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A journey to the intelligent enterprise

Amitabh Dubey

There has been a lot of buzz lately around how and why organizations should integrate multiple digital solutions into their enterprise landscapes. Over the years, enterprise landscapes have become more complex, with the adoption and integration of multiple technical solutions to fulfill day-to-day business needs. This leaves gaps in the processes and leads to workarounds to run the show. This is not something I mention for the first time. It is a well-known fact and it has been the bread and butter of integration architects for years. But as we ponder these complex landscapes, we always think, “What if some of these processes become more intelligent and receptive to business needs, ensuring fewer workarounds and more robust straight forward solutions?” This thought is not something we can circumvent for long because, if we analyze it properly, we can see the significant financial consequences of running and maintaining them.

Organizations must embark on a journey towards an intelligent enterprise – a responsive, robust, and future-ready system. While early adopters will benefit the most, they shouldn’t dive into the deep end just yet. At this juncture, measured steps are better.

Almost all enterprise products have come up with offerings that work around their core. SAP is one of the most aggressive, with many billions of dollars’ worth of acquisitions and a very strong portfolio. Customers also have the option of selecting the digital platform of their choice from one of the many niche players around. With such a broad spectrum of platforms and technologies to choose from, it becomes difficult to freeze on the overall landscape.

In my opinion, the journey to an intelligent enterprise should have the following attributes.

Strengthen the core

You can’t really start anything when you have a mess around your enterprise core. With multiple data sources feeding into your core, data redundancy is inevitable. Multiple integration technologies make it even more complex. So, the first step is to revisit and re-architect your enterprise landscape, determine what is redundant, and assess need. Many unwanted custom developments and duplicate master data lying around for decades need to be harmonized. Consolidation of multiple landscapes and instances should also be factored in during the exercise, if possible. Going forward, this will only make life easier.

Can I assume your current landscape looks something like this?

This is just an assumption. Without a doubt, your landscape is far more complex.

Adopt the new core

Yes, once the core is simpler, look to renew it. For a customer running SAP, it is important to draw a roadmap to adopt the S/4HANA core. This not just something I am saying. SAP has made it clear in their PAM on support period of ECC. This might be extended as well. But this is the right time to adopt the new core which comes with a volley of digital-ready new offerings.

Keep the core clean

None of the ERP systems, however good they may be, are perfect. You always need some custom developments in and around them to run your business. Some even have limitations in extending. But, in an SAP environment, we have been doing heavy and complex custom developments for decades now, which give us goosebumps when consider applying just a patch. With SAP S/4HANA, we need to change this approach. No more changes to the standard code and no more heavy application developments in the core. Instead, we use SAP Cloud Platform to extend our solutions. This seamlessly integrates with SAP S/4HANA as the digital core and other SAP/non-SAP on-premises/on-demand solutions, thus keeping the core clean.

Identify where you can go digital

Now once you have your core renewed, it is time to engage with all your partners (customers, suppliers, internal/external stakeholders) to prepare a list with must-have and nice-to-have ones in adopting the intelligent technologies. This is when you really need to go slow and perhaps start with the must-haves with a proof of concept. A proof of concept is the safest one to start with; where a failure guarantees very minimal or no loss at all.

Go shopping

Now, this is the most crucial one in the whole journey. What you choose here determines your path forward. You definitely need to weigh all parameters. You cannot afford to have a mess as you have just spent a lot of money cleaning up. In my opinion, every intelligent product and technology chosen must be coherent with your core to succeed. Look for those that are scalable and seamlessly integrate with your core and not another piece of solution that is added to the landscape just because it’s the best one. Of course, this decision sometimes is very much requirement intensive and sometimes you have to relent. That said, this is where your service provider delivering your core should work very closely to help you choose the right one.

Analyze the results

Your PoCs on adoption of intelligent technologies were right on target which means your intelligent core is ready to go now. You have some results to analyze. This is where the real adoption should start after the analysis and will show you how you can scale. Yes scalability, the most important parameter you must have considered while you were shopping, becomes a key aspect here as well when you want to extend it to the wider community in your enterprise. And in due course, the list you prepared could have more must-haves and nice-to-haves for consideration.

Stabilize and keep reinventing

Assuming the plans went well,  your enterprise has become an intelligent one. It is stabilizing and quickly learning to become more human than just another ERP system. You cannot stop there. With this intelligent core, you should have a design-thinking team focusing on adding more intelligence and churning out some exciting solutions for every problem statement.

So what does an intelligent enterprise look like?

Above is a visualization of how the core can be enhanced and extended using multiple SAP offerings. However, organizations may differ and choose other services and solutions that best suit their requirements. This assumption talks about a hybrid deployment, but customers can also have other deployment options. In my future blogs, I will touch upon the deployment options and some more detailed approaches for an intelligent enterprise.

I have tried to explain a very big exercise in a very simple way. And while things are rarely this simple, the journey needs to start for an intelligent enterprise for every organization. The path can be different, the approach can be different.

At Capgemini, we have a very strong focus on the renewable enterprise in SAP with a vast pool of certified resources and architects. We have a dedicated Innovation Center in SAP Center of Excellence focused on building exciting solutions, some of which are SAP-certified industry accelerators. So what are you waiting for? We can be with you on this journey!

Please get in touch with me or David Lowson.