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Keeping the faith in the Highway to SAP S/4HANA® and Intelligent Enterprise!

David Lowson

At the beginning of May I attended my first SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG event after 27 years of working in the world of SAP® and I would like to make a few observations on my time spent in Orlando:

  1. The average experience of SAPPHIRE NOW attendees is a bit higher than a Salesforce customer event (possibly by 20–30 years)
  2. The keynotes were interesting, but I felt that there was a lot for partners to interpret the XData Odata message. There is a lot of other data out there that we need to understand and use to make the enterprise truly great, and drive the concept of the “experience economy.” I agree with SAP’s view that the world has changed and that organizations once again need to make a major shift.
  3. For me, meeting with all our clients was really interesting and where I learned the most.

So, what did I pick up and why is it causing me doubt?

Over the past 12 months, I have been trying to line up my business around two go-to markets –Capgemini’s Highway to SAP S/4HANA® (move to a standard core) and the renewable enterprise – using a flexible micro-services platform to provide the differentiation, agility, and connection to the application world beyond your new SAP S/4HANA®  solution.

What surprised me at SAPPHIRE NOW was the number of clients who felt that the renewable enterprise was something that came after the core was migrated and how long they were prepared to wait. They felt that there was so much effort going into the move to SAP S/4HANA®   that the platform was a distraction and that it removed focus. They could well be right, but for now, I want to stick to my guns.

  1. You are not just setting up a new ERP system with SAP S/4HANA® , you are setting up a new platform, so you also need to renew your application and integration strategy in this new fast-paced world of “hyper-connectedness.” You need the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP),  you need to support it in a different way, you need different skills, and above all, you need a different mindset. Our clients who implement SCP using the older approaches soon find that their users find faults, and say that issues with the look and feel, or preference, or missing functionality they wanted are errors and need to be fixed with a ticket. In the new SCP world users have to get used to minimum viable products and the idea that things can change after a ‘go-live’ quite easily and without a lot of overhead. They do not need to panic and shout P1 error as soon as they don’t like the look of something.
  2. Adopting SCP, even on the ECC platform, can have great benefits and get users used to the look and feel, the support teams used to the technologies, and allow teams to learn on the job.
  3. SCP improvements can give the benefits that help to the CIO and IT organization to sell the move to SAP S/4HANA®  to business and open the eyes of the users to what can be done and how they should design their complete new SAP S/4HANA®  solution, (open their eyes).
  4. It means you have your future-state architecture in place before you move to SAP S/4HANA® and you can test it and understand it properly.
  5. SCP provides interim states between the old SAP and other systems and the new SAP S/4HANA®   will also mean you have to address issue such as data early.
  6. It gets everyone excited and shows it’s not a technical upgrade but an opportunity for business change.

I also believe that moving the core and not doing SCP carries the risk that you deliver your enhancement using the old architecture that stops clients taking the new releases and providing an agile platform for the future. If you are taking a long time to do the initial design, I question whether you are really moving fast enough, how you can design something for clients, employees, and partners that will go live in 2–3 years when business and your competition are changing every few months.

I have some evidence that I am thinking the right way, in that we are receiving a lot of interest from customers who have started their SAP S/4HANA®  journey at phase zero and then didn’t get to a clear business case, or have been scared off by the cost of the move, the risk, or working out how to do the move. This suggests that some people are starting off on the wrong foot.

I think early use of the platform is a great start on the road to SAP S/4HANA® , and working to show the innovation and agility that can delivered before the move to SAP S/4HANA®  starts is a real winner. Not having this new platform architecture in place will once again slow down or impair the business innovation where your business can truly differentiate.

If you want further information on our way of thinking or are struggling with your own move to SAP S/4HANA® please contact me David Lowson or Alex Bulat, Capgemini innovation lead.

Or if you want to try out our approach and see if there is value in it, please contact us  to discuss a Capgemini innovation day.