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On the second day of SAP's annual conference, Sapphire Now 2016, the focus shifted from technology to enabling transformation and accelerating adoption of SAP S/4HANA. S/4HANA is positioned as the core platform for digital transformation. Because the platform is relatively new (launched in February 2015), customers, numbering 3,200, find it reassuring to have both SAP and an implementation partner or consulting firm involved in the deployment.

Transformation is about doing things differently and faster

The chief reason customers are attracted to the S/4HANA platform is that it provides a rich environment for rapid adaptation, to help them simplify their IT landscapes to reduce costs and increase their relevance to customers through deeper understanding and more personalized interactions.

We have argued consistently that to thrive, enterprises must act less like machines and more like organisms, with the ability to sense, respond, and adapt. The S/4HANA platform acts as the digital spine of the business, supported by the delivery of real-time information, predictive analytics, and machine learning from the in-memory database SAP HANA. This is far closer to the organism metaphor. It allows organizations to rethink how they add value to their customers and to avoid becoming victims of disruption. Many of SAP's pioneering customers have shifted their business models from selling products to delivering a service that is more in tune with a subscription economy.

The art of the possible has therefore massively changed with the introduction of the S/4HANA platform, and that creates uncertainty as well as excitement about the unknown possibilities for creating a more dynamic, agile, and genuinely innovative environment for businesses. Understanding and exploring the art of the possible to help customers take advantage of the S/4HANA platform, as well as transition planning, is the purpose behind SAP's Digital Business Services (DBS).

DBS supports customers through a range of services from vision and strategy through to value delivery. This involves four phases:

  • Executive alignment – To set a clear direction, articulate a strategy, and confirm scope, timeline, resources, and governance model.

  • Value discovery – Potential for business model innovation and or process optimization, using design thinking, workshops, and assessment tools.

  • Validation and executive readiness – Socializing and validating the final recommendations, ensuring buy-in, and delivering a board-level presentation and business case.

  • Value delivery – Ensure program is delivered on time and within budget using model-company and rapid prototyping.

The increasing adoption of S/4HANA supported by these services promises to accelerate the emergence of enterprises that are truly customer-adaptive, with the ability to sense, respond, anticipate, and adapt at the right pace to remain relevant to their customers.


Further reading

The Customer-Adaptive Imperative, IT0020-000091 (March 2015)

The Customer-Adaptive Imperative in Knowledge-Intensive Industries, IT0020-000166 (November 2015)


Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

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