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A step in a right direction, now!


When I started as a newbie SAP super-user 20 years ago, I was actually super excited! I still have vivid memories of all the pains we took to make SAP work for us – after a lot of ups and downs. Most of my colleagues who have been in the SAP world for long will have their stories of survival, which can go on for hours together over a few drinks. Yes, it was painful but highly satisfying to see my little contribution that made things better for the firms that I worked for! It was all worth it, indeed.

Life takes a full circle and we are looking at the next tidal wave of SAP transformation journeys, underpinned by the need of exploiting the power of S/4HANA. A journey to make enterprise smarter, nimble, scalable and, most importantly, renewable. While this is an exciting period for most of the firms and SAP professionals as it offers potentially game-changing outcomes, it also throws its own challenges. The hardest of the challenge is to let your mind to embark on a long transformation journey – again!

Many customers, at the moment, don’t even want to start a conversation about S/4 openly as it carries a huge risk and high perceived cost. But all of them somewhere know that, in the next few years, they must move to S/4. So, the key for success here is perhaps to quietly get ready, even at the extent of not mentioning anything about S/4HANA.

One day, all our customers will move to S/4HANA successfully and start realising the benefits of this great platform for their digital enterprise. The big question is where and how do we start this journey from. Obviously, there is no silver bullet to this and every customer has a different starting point. We, as their trusted partners, need to carefully carve out their journeys accordingly, and Capgemini does realise the conundrum that our customers face. In the last couple of years, we have been working with them to craft their own transformation journey.

The biggest learning for us in the last couple of years has been that while we all are preparing for S/4HANA led transformation journeys, we may de-risk ourselves by taking small but meaningful steps that can get us ready for the transformation eventually. As they say, if I had 6 hours to cut the tree, I shall spend 5 hours in sharpening the axe! In the same spirit, let’s sharpen our axe before we take the final step of business transformation. The metaphor of sharpening the axe can be explained with the help of 4 CsCheap and predictable Upgrades, Charming the business with a new skin, Clean the core, and Careful Cloudification.

We are advising our customers to leverage these 4Cs to get them ready for a giant leap of S4HANA tomorrow. Our dedicated CoEs are focused on building accelerators across all areas that enable our customers to realise the value quickly, thereby gaining business confidence on their readiness for larger transformation. It is almost like getting the ground ready to build a new high-rise tower for tomorrow. We have adopted such an approach successfully with some of our customers and it is yielding positive outcomes, measurable in a short timeframe.

While Cheap and predictable upgrades and careful cloudification are self-explanatory steps and widely leveraged in the SAP ecosystem currently, it is very important to associate these with larger transformative goals. This needs a clear strategy for transformation, and we take immense pride in advising our customers along those lines. It is like taking every step, however small it is, in the right direction.

Unanimously, most of the traditional users of SAP would vehemently agree that they would love to have a jazzier frontend to SAP than boring blue screens!  So, while we charm our business users with those screens using fiori and UI/UX, we are able to upgrade the backend underneath to a more modern technology – with business users enjoying the charming SAP, unaware of necessary changes going on underneath. And as they rightly say, the Charm of good looks always works!

Organisations have built a massive amount of bespoke applications over the last 25 years and some of us have actually taken a lot of pride in contributing to it! This has burdened the core aspects of our enterprise solution. Time for us to clean-up our act! We need to start re-looking at these bespoke things and start shedding some weight! It would make our enterprise solutions lighter, fitter and cleaner when we want to move to the S/4HANA world. Capgemini has developed a structured way to approach this painful issue in the ECC world to start with. This will eventually enable you to get ready for a future digital core architecture supported by APIs.

Personally, I am excited to be part of these game changing times – we have learnt from past experiences and we understand the anxiety of our customers who want to take this leap of faith. We want to make it easy for them. We’ll do so by taking some baby steps in the right direction, which would eventually get us ready for a giant leap!

Swanand Bhedasgaonkar

Swanand is a Vice President with Capgemini and currently responsible for running the UK SAP practice in India. He comes with 18+ years of SAP experience into consulting and program management. He is passionate about shaping large deals for customers and enable their transformation journeys.