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On the third day of SAP's annual conference, Sapphire Now 2016, SAP provided more detail on the emerging strengths of the S/4HANA platform and how it can support a highly connected, empowered, and intelligent organization. Key areas covered included intelligent applications and machine learning, microservices on the SAP Hybris as a Service (YaaS) platform for rapid adaptation and augmentation, and SAP Hybris dynamic customer profiling to drive contextual relevance.

The SAP S/4HANA platform is not just ERP on steroids

SAP has long been recognized as a leader in the back-office business of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM). The S/4HANA platform, however, offers much more than a modern ERP system on steroids. It has the potential to remove departmental silos and create a coherent end-to-end enterprise, unified around the customer. This turns the supply chain on its head and enables a far more dynamic enterprise with the freedom to innovate more rapidly and to play a central value-creation and delivery role, in a highly adaptive demand network.

The digital nervous system of the enterprise is now a genuine possibility

S/4HANA provides the digital core that enables the enterprise to wrap its collective arms around the customer by helping promote an engaged, empowered, connected (SAP JAM), and informed workforce. Organizations must act as a coherent whole, not as a collection of disparate parts, and the S/4HANA platform can provide this, creating a highly adaptive and connected demand network, triggered by customer demand at the individual level (SAP Hybris Customer Engagement and Commerce), and connected back to a supply network (via SAP Ariba and SCM, and predictive analytics, machine learning, and IoT) to support intelligent processes and continuous optimization in the interests of customers.

This capability is absolutely essential to any organization that has omnichannel customer engagement aspirations and seeks to be persistently relevant to its customers. The SAP Hybris as a Service (YaaS) offering will be going global towards the end of the year/early 2017. YaaS has been opened up to developers who can develop microservices and sell them through the platform. This will offer opportunities for much more rapid and innovative adaptations to the front end, which has the potential to dramatically improve the customer experience by simplifying customer journeys and using contextual relevance to encourage stronger customer bonds to brands and the enterprise. Expect to see more evidence of customer-adaptive capabilities, because deep within SAP is a rapidly growing incubator for innovation. As Carsten Thoma, founder of Hybris said, since the acquisition by SAP, innovation is accelerating. This should put to rest once and for all the perception that SAP is just an ERP company.


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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