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The Way Forward: Integrating and Extending Your SAP Landscape in the Cloud

Written by Haridas Nair, Global Head for SAP Cloud Platform & Information Management GTM, Platform & Technologies

Today, we are witnessing events that have fundamentally changed the face of business: how its run, what products and services are in demand, and how to keep up with an ever-changing customer experience. The global crisis, and all that has come with it, has shaken businesses to their cores, leaving some to rethink their overall operations and interactions with stakeholders. Their strategies have shifted to an increased focus on digitization and automation.

On the bright side, there are companies that have shown resilience, and even thrived, during the global crisis. How are these businesses succeeding when others are scrambling to just keep the lights on? They have done so by adapting to the current situation faster, demonstrating greater agility, higher productivity, and a stronger connection to their customers. A recent McKinsey study highlighted that these companies are leading because they have been better than others at identifying weaknesses and opportunities. But most importantly, they have been able to reconfigure their existing business processes and quickly digitalize new ones – to adapt and capture new opportunities.

Rapidly adapting to new and ever-changing market demands

The most successful companies have one mission in common: they respond to changing market conditions with ease and agility, while consistently delivering exceptional experiences for all stakeholders. They are intelligent enterprises.

So, how can a company get on the path to becoming an intelligent enterprise? Many businesses already reap the benefits from using SAP´s core ERP and data solutions (SAP S/4HANA, SAP ECC, SAP HANA, etc.) and line of business (LoB) applications (SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur, Qualtrics, etc.), to meet today’s and tomorrow’s demands. These customers have a rich landscape, equipped with both SAP and third-party systems, but they may not be able to capture the full potential that this setup can bring. Our customers want to get more value from their existing landscape, and they want to drive more revenue from an untapped ecosystem of partners.

This is where the ability to integrate and extend in the cloud, with SAP Cloud Platform, becomes pivotal in becoming an intelligent enterprise.

Innovation leads to success

One of my favorite customer success stories is from one of our global oil & gas industry customers, Murphy Oil. They were lacking visibility into their oil well operations from onshore. Their data was spread across 15 systems and coordinating allocation of field resources to solve production problems was a manual effort. This meant sometimes it took many tries to get people, equipment, and spare parts aligned, which greatly impacted production and revenue.

In a very short period of time, the customer implemented a digital remote operations center solution on SAP Cloud Platform, that unified information and integrated business processes that sat in different systems. Moreover, they enabled the information and processes to expand all the way to mobile devices. This remote operation center ensures that the customer has intelligent data management, smart allocation of resources, improved safety conditions of staff, and a seamless flow of processes.

Innovation isn’t just about the latest and greatest trends to come out of technology. Innovation is, foremost, about how it impacts the business. For instance, finding paper-based and manual processes that are ready to be digitized is one of the best forms of innovation a company can achieve.

This was the case for an agricultural company, Ruralco, who had several legacy POS systems across their network, and their staff was limited by system capacity and functions, such as inventory visibility and sales history intel. The customer deployed scanning technology using SAP Fiori on mobile devices, interacting in real-time, via SAP Cloud Platform, with the company’s core SAP ERP, MDG, and CX systems. This system is geared to provide the absolute highest-level of in-store or on-the-road customer experiences. A real win for innovation, right there.

Multiple use cases, one solution

The aforementioned stories are great examples of what SAP Cloud Platform can help our customers achieve. On that thought, what do our customers especially value in the platform that brings them real business impact? We consistently hear two overarching themes that give SAP Cloud Platform its edge over the competition: integration and extension.

“Integration” is a relatively understandable concept, just from the word alone. Connecting different line of LoB applications from both SAP and non-SAP to automate processes and workflows is quite comprehensible.

“Extension,” on the other hand, needs some explaining to form an association. Customers use the platform for a number of reasons, including:

  • Consolidation of multiple Fiori applications
  • Building out supplier and distributor portals to expand the reach of SAP data, apps, and processes beyond the enterprise
  • Creating mobile applications for remote operations and offline access
  • Switching from building in-app extensions in ABAP to building extensions on the platform
  • Additionally, we hear from our customers that the more they develop application extensions, the faster and easier it becomes, given the ability to reuse shareable logic and leverage built-in accelerators
  • All of these use cases constitute the value of SAP Cloud Platform as not just an integration platform, but as an extension platform, as well.

    To align with customer expectations and to simplify their experiences, we focus on two initiatives: The Integration Suite and the Extension Suite. Let’s delve a bit deeper into SAP Cloud Platform, its two Suites, and its platform foundation.

    Integration Suite

    The Integration Suite is THE integration platform for SAP-to-SAP integrations, SAP- to -non-SAP integrations, cloud-to-cloud, and cloud- to -on-premise. The Integration Suite not only provides the integration technology for message-based integration, API-based integration, or event-based integration, it also provides pre-built integration content, as well. This helps to speed up the integration project times for our customers.

    To see this in action, let’s look at how one of our customers, a global cosmetics company, is benefiting from their integrations. This company interfaces with multiple third-party and banking systems using the Integration Suite. In addition, they work with a set of implementation partners, and each new point project takes only four to six weeks from ideation to production, highlighting the speed that they are achieving. The customer experienced a 70% quicker time-to-delivery for app development projects, with a 40% cost reduction.

    Another great SAP integration story is from global mining company, where SAP is one of the key vendors that the business is working with in the area of innovation. In one particular case, the maintenance teams were creating multitudes of upkeep requests, going to the backend directly, causing tremendous latency in their performance. To address this, the company integrated their ERP data with SAP HANA Cloud, which significantly reduced their latency. This created a “Digital Integration Hub,” enabling the company to have a centralized, digital integration layer that facilitates seamless data access across the enterprises for both SAP and non-SAP systems.

    Extension Suite

    The Extension Suite provides a cohesive set of services and tools to expand the reach of SAP applications, data, and processes to everyone within the enterprise, and to extend the reach to an ecosystem beyond the enterprise. It focuses on four key areas: simplifying application user experience, delivering agile process automation, providing digital workplaces for the intelligent enterprise, and enabling new differentiating business solutions.

    Simplifying application user experience: Endress+Hauser, an industrial process engineering solutions company, needed to integrate and combine data that was held in disparate systems and departments to enable greater visibility and access to all insights. They partnered with SAP to implement a business data and integration hub that leverages their data assets and drives innovation for their customers through AI. The company is now benefitting from a five-times faster project speed and lower costs compared to previous projects.

    Delivering agile process automation: An international online food ordering company, Delivery Hero, wanted to automate their capital approval process to enable the effective and quick deployment of capital to support their many development projects. SAPdelivered an automated capital-approval workflow that shrunk the process from 20 days to two days. The automated process supports the funding approval for 1K+ employees working on development and marketing projects across the global company.

    Providing digital workplaces for the intelligent enterprise: A German cable company, Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke (NSW), launched a major project to institute design thinking across functional boundaries, to produce innovative new applications. Within two weeks, the teams hashed out requirements to build an operations dashboard application that supports managers to take action. Finance leaders and top executives have ready access to a graphical overview that shows them where the whole business stands economically. It lets them drill down into planned and actual costs and revenues in an intuitive user interface adaptable to their roles.

    Enabling new differentiating business solutions: As part of an Australian organization’s evolution to a mature protection and education hub, Taronga Conservation Society partnered with SAP to implement a cloud-based platform for delivering new ways of supporting its core processes, including finance, procurement, payroll, and human resources. They developed a mobile application to unify and simplify the employee experience, improving employee engagement on incidents and notifications. Employees are now getting visibility into incidents and notifications, which was not the case before this project.

    Foundation Excellence

    While the Integration and Extension Suites focus on solving dedicated business needs, the underlying foundation of SAP Cloud Platform offers a secure, multicloud, future-proof underpinning that embraces all major hyperscaler infrastructures (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc.) and cloud-based, native technologies.

    Speaking of hyperscalers, I’m often asked the question: How does SAP Cloud Platform differ from the hyperscalers? This question is best answered by getting into the mind frame of a developer. Developers need a platform that provides acceleration.

    SAP provides an open business platform, optimized for the SAP landscape, across the major hyperscalers, as a managed service with built-in accelerators. These accelerators address developer productivity, connections to SAP and non-SAP systems, and pre-built content that understands the context of SAP applications. Compare this to building from the ground up on a hyperscaler – devoid of acceleration! You can achieve faster time to value with SAP Cloud platform, without the worry of looking to a specific hyperscaler to get the job done.

    SAP Cloud Platform helps to run the intelligent enterprise

    As a pivotal part of SAP’s Business Technology Platform portfolio, SAP Cloud Platform’s focus is the integration, extension, and innovative building of business applications with agility, flexibility, and choice. It lets customers integrate, extend, and innovate their data, processes, and apps, and enables partners to bring unlimited innovation to the ecosystem.

    The platform is recommended by SAP, optimized for SAP, and managed by SAP, which makes it a very compelling solution for all SAP customers and partners.

    Learn more about SAP Cloud Platform in the Discovery Center.

    Haridas Nair is Global Head for SAP Cloud Platform & Information Management Go-To-Market (GTM) within the Platform & Technologies business at SAP. He is responsible for driving solution awareness, demand generation, and the customer adoption of the cloud platform and information management portfolio. Prior to his current role, Haridas has 15+ years of experience leading product strategy, product management, go-to-market, and product development teams in successful commercialization of innovative solutions in mobile, big data, and cloud spaces for enterprise and consumer markets.

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