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Author's profile photo Kimay Ramnarain

The Intelligent Enterprise Story: Why SAP Business Technology Platform Paves the Road to the Intelligent, Sustainable Enterprise

The Intelligent Enterprise is SAP’s North Star Strategy. It aims to help our customers establish a foundation resilient enough to maintain your current business goals but allows the agility to adapt and weather the storms of uncertainty in today’s business environment. One of the key pillars of this strategy lies in the SAP Business Technology platform (BTP). The BTP lays the foundation for Application Development, Integration and a Seamless user experience. This allows you to embed the 7 critical suite qualities into your Intelligent Enterprise. In this blog, I will explain why these suite qualities play a crucial role in the overall goal of building an Intelligent Enterprise: visibility.

The Intelligent Enterprise consists of 3 key components:

  1. Business Processes: every business has processes in place to run their day-to-day operations. The strategy aims to provide best practice standards and insights across your processes- Lead-to-Cash, Source-to-pay, Design-to-Operate and Recruit-to-Retire.
  2. Applications: To manage your processes digitally, you need software applications. The Intelligent Suite is composed of all the solutions you have in place to manage these core processes (for example, SuccessFactors for the Recruit-to-Retire process). You may also need to extend the functionality of the core solution with industry cloud or third-party and partner solutions.
  3. Technology: At the heart of your strategy lies the SAP Business Technology Platform. This gives you all the tools to establish your solid foundation and grow through innovation. Let’s look at the suite qualities!

For explanatory purposes, let’s look at the Hire-to-Retire subprocess within the greater Recruit-to-Retire Process:

Assume, for our applications layer, we have SuccessFactors to manage Human Resources but we also Ariba as a procurement system, a Custom Training Solution for employee onboarding training, S/4HANA Cloud as our main ERP and Concur to manage reimbursements.

End-to-End Process Blueprints: Intelligent Enterprises are Integrated Enterprises

Within your organization, you have various different processes in place to run your business. And of course, multiple different systems are involved in managing these processes. Certain processes may overlap and these systems would then need to communicate with each other through some means of Integration with Best Practices in place.

In the example above, imagine your IT department has to build an integration strategy for all the different LoB solutions in the diagram above: how they communicate with each other; what data needs to shared; establish security standards and develop analytics. This is a huge undertaking and would need to be constantly adjusted if any change occurs.

Within SAP API Business Hub, you will have access to a wealth of prebuilt content and best practices to ensure that you have a consolidated and efficient integration strategy in place with greatly reduced effort. This allows for visibility across the processes in your entire landscape and helps you run simple.

Seamless User Experience: Consistency is Key

A seamless user experience allows your employees a comfortable, consistent user experience when working with your solutions.

Let’s assume the persona of the new Employee in the example above. The employee has obviously has to access multiple different systems: this could be S/4HANA for certain day-to-day, role-based tasks; SuccessFactors for any HR specific processes; the Training Solution to keep up with their enablement; Concur to submit travel expenses and Ariba to order any required equipment

Navigating each of these applications would be extremely frustrating for the new Employee and comes with a steep learning curve. In the same token, re-engineering these user interface stacks would be a huge undertaking for IT.

By leveraging SAP Fiori and SAP Workzone Standard Edition, you apply the core User Experience aspects to all applications to ensure a consistent look and feel and provide your employees with a single, user specific entry point to all their applications to increase user satisfaction and user efficiency by improving employee visibility across systems.

Consistent Identity Management: Single Sign-On Across Multiple Applications

Consistent Identity Management aims to ensure security across your Hybrid, Heterogenous landscape in a simple and efficient way.

Let’s build on the scenario given above, in which the new Employee must access multiple different systems. In each of these systems, the Employee may have different authentication credentials. This is not only frustrating for the employee, who must enter these credentials multiple different times, but also cause major security issues: how exactly are these authorizations being managed?

With SAP Cloud Identity Services, you will be able to manage access rights from one, central source and have underlying connectivity to your own Identity Provider. This can be re-used across your entire landscape and allowing single sign-on for your employees. This allows you to avoid multiple P2P connectivity and improves user access and provisioning thereby minimizing security risks and providing user visibility.

One Workflow Inbox: Central Action Point

One workflow inbox provides business users with the ability to have all approval items brought to one central place.

In our Hire-to-Retire example, let’s assume the Hiring Manager persona. The manager must approve new equipment orders in Ariba but may also have to approve leave requests coming their team in SuccessFactors or approve travel expenses in Concur. Having to access all these requests in different systems can be a huge task and human error could lead to the manager missing an approval. This could have huge negative impacts on the business or team morale.

By leveraging the power of SAP Task Center, all approval tasks can be brought to one, central point of approval and the result distributed to the relevant source systems. This greatly improves approval time, approval quality and provides quick visibility into all pending tasks.

Aligned Domain Models, APIs and Events: Consistent Integration to Ensure Data Integrity

Aligned Domain Models ensures that all master data is effectively maintained and efficiently utilized within the Intelligent Enterprise.

In our Hire-to-Retire example we would need to integrate the employee master data in SuccessFactors with Concur for expense reports, so that we know exactly which employees are entitled to submit these reports and what the reason behind this is. Now, imagine these solutions had completely different data models. A change in Concur could lead to anomalies or missing data within the SuccessFactors mater data when the change is carried over. This can cause major issues in your data management.

With SAP One Domain Model and the SAP Master Data Integration, you can define the language applications use to communicate with each other and ensure the exchange of Business Objects to safeguard data integrity thereby improving holistic visibility.

Embedded & Cross Product Analytics: Deriving Business Value from your Data

Data is the most valuable asset your business owns. But, if not leveraged correctly, becomes your biggest loss.

In our example above let’s look at the work step. We would be able to see what tasks the new employee carried out at what times. However, if we don’t have way of analyzing this data, we will not be able to track how effective the new employee is in terms of meeting their KPIs or to gauge if the expected outcome is a good measure against the actual outcome time or benchmark it against other industry standards.

By leveraging SAP Unified Analytics, you will be able to ensure all users have a view of analytics, ensure that your analytics are accurate and take all aspects into account and provide your analysists with the corrects context thereby improving your performance visibility. You will also be able to leverage contents of SAP Analytics Cloud to bring all data from different line of business solutions together and provide a unified point of view.

Co-ordinated Lifecycle Management: Ensure your Landscape is Clean and Up to Date

Co-ordinated Lifecycle Management seeks to ensure that automated provisioning and integration set-up of your applications and allows you to monitor your applications performance. It also allows one central place to get transparency into all your SAP LoB Applications.

In our Hire-to-Retire Example, you must monitor all the solutions above and ensure that each of them is meeting your company’s current requirements and that each of them is in good health. This may be a bit difficult to keep track of if you have to look at each solution separately and would put a great deal of pressure on your IT department. The right tools are needed

With SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Cloud Integration Automation, you will be able to gain visibility into the when your applications need to be improved and have access to tooling that improve and automate the implementation of new solutions. With SAP4ME, you will have transparent insights on what’s is going on in all your SAP LoB Solutions

The Intelligent Enterprise is a vision that equips your business with the power of end-to-end visibility by embedding the 7 vital suite qualities which act as the cornerstone for resilience and agility. To get into the details on how to bring these qualities to life in your organization, remember to check out our Intelligent Enterprise Microsite and get started today!

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      Author's profile photo Shantanu Sharma
      Shantanu Sharma

      Excellent blog Kimay. Thanks for posting.