In the ERP world, I cannot hand on heart claim that I have made the world a better place. For sure, clients have sorted out their processes, saved money, done quicker month ends, and improved delivery performance, etc. but this has also possibly contributed to many of the modern topics/issues we see today – the increase in global trade, tax efficient supply, the 24-hour economy and an always-on culture, the increase in spam and Facebook adverts that pop up because you’ve browsed something on the web.
Generally, our work has increased the profitability of businesses, and allowed more flexibility and transparency, supporting the 24-hour economy and globalization, and allowed clients to do more for less and faster as well as adapt quicker using new business models.
Clearly, the advances made have allowed us to launch new services and enabled global trade across multiple areas such as providing services, career management, preventing accidents and identifying fraud.
However, most of these improvements have been intrinsic to enterprises and not external; they have not resulted in huge environmental improvements, stopped wars, etc., etc.
In the ECC days the architectures were neither flexible nor connected adequately and the core could not handle the volumes of data needed. Also, importantly, the teams implementing SAP were more likely to focus on what they felt comfortable with rather than deal with these issues.
And that is where I see a paradigm shift taking place. SAP S/4HANA core, surrounded by the intelligent enterprise, is allowing us to have a positive effect on far broader issues. For example, in the automotive industry we are using SAP S/4HANA to report on emissions and make sure firms meet their environmental targets. We are making sure, using new apps with SAP S/4HANA data at the core, that no one ever works in a dangerous environment with incorrect equipment and inadequate training. Using wearables, we are making sure employees in potentially dangerous roles are monitored safely. We are monitoring equipment to make sure it is working correctly and making sure any issue that occurs is flagged in the entire system to prevent its recurrence. We are using voice to access SAP and customer services instead of a UI, and making the look and feel of SAP S/4HANA services more assessable.
When I talk to clients about their really big long-term ambitions and their value drivers, they don’t usually talk about doing month-end 12 hours faster. They talk about zero emissions, about making sure their products are ethical and can be recycled. They talk about feeding everyone in the world, and eradicating a disease.
I really think the combination of the SAP S/4HANA core full of operations data and the information available via the intelligent enterprise can reinvent what we can do with the implementation – from working out where goods have been used and making sure they are recycled and reused, to making the world of work and services more assessable, helping smaller consumers, etc. to access new services.
When we complete business cases for the move to SAP S/4HANA we tend to concentrate on money and the way we work in the enterprise. Now is the time to link the business case to the value drivers of the whole enterprise – not just the supply chain manager and finance director.
For a showcase of the links to larger transformation rather than just those that make the core SAP S/4HANA work a bit smoother and deliver real value in line with those of the whole enterprise and a discussion around ideas to build and promote this for your organization, please connect with me at David Lowson.