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Observations on the true value of digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA


As the head of Portfolio for Capgemini’s European  SAP Center of Excellence (CoE), and given my involvement with several SAP customers with the new intelligent ERP, I have ample opportunity to observe what happens with SAP S/4HANA. Let’s start this blog post by highlighting market sentiment, addressing the rise of harmonization discussions, and considering the different implementation paths to SAP S/4HANA.

The question of landscape strategy is more relevant than ever. Customers are tired of tackling complex, real-time, siloed decision making and are now looking to simplify business processes. Our fourfold vision of simplifying business processes and landscapes, increasing fit-to-standard scenarios, creating extensions and IP on the SAP Cloud Platform, and building microservices on top of a stable core resonates with customers.

Enterprises – even the billion-dollar ones – are slowly realizing the value of SAP S/4HANA. Instead of wondering whether SAP S/4HANA is the way forward, they now focus on comparing the impacts, time, and costs of integration. In fact, it isn’t just customers with an existing SAP landscape; non-SAP ERP customers are also contemplating a move to SAP S/4HANA. CxOs are seriously thinking about adopting intelligent technologies from the onset and expect to reap business benefits immediately, rather than after a long, risky move. The winning approach is to combine at the same time, a “standard” core SAP S/4HANA implementation to support core harmonized businesses with intelligent technologies to differentiate immediately.

In an agile world, simplicity is key. While customers understand that SAP S/4HANA is not a panacea and realize that SAP S/4HANA will not end, they do take into account the landscape consolidation and process harmonization benefits that SAP S/4HANA brings. While there is some correlation in the scope of our projects in terms of target architectures, assessments, and roadmap creation, one thing that stands out since the start of SAP S/4HANA are the discussions around finance. The universal ledger, business partner management (when it comes to treasury and taxation), real-time cash flow, financial consolidation, and the soft month-end close are discussed almost every time. Within our SAP CoE, finance along with logistics and supply chain became a low hanging fruit to develop intelligent solutions (AI/ML, RPA, etc.). It resulted in multiple quick wins, accelerated efficiency improvement on existing processes with PoCs, and become a starting point to continually engage with customers and broaden our scope for implementations.

By delaying the move to SAP S/4HANA in a standard V-cycle approach, customers may significantly reduce their access to SAP innovations. But why should customers use old recipes with new ingredients? In any of the typical situations – having non-SAP legacy systems and considering a move to SAP S/4HANA, or having a combination of non-SAP and SAP systems and considering a move to SAP S/4HANA, or simply having SAP systems only and considering a move to SAP S/4HANA – a smart approach, supported by a solid architecture framework and agile methods, can deliver faster results with less risk.

Do you have a long and complex roadmap with a lack of clarity of business benefits? Are you confused with multiple SAP tools and accelerators that are not integrated with your landscape and not working at scale? Do you expect faster changes with rapid first business benefits? Do you want more simplification and at the same time to increase differentiation? To optimize your time and efforts, and to learn more, feel free to reach out to me at