Digitization, Internet of things, machine learning, contextual customer interactions...these are the buzzwords that are spread by the enterprise software industry. I’ve attended countless presentations where the limitless possibilities of today’s technology are explained. Often, I watch people in the room and wonder: "Can they apply them to their own business?"
Judging from the questions I get from customers and prospects, it seems that, although everybody understands that technology will change the way we live and work, people do not see the use cases immediately. People also fear that it would require substantial investments of time and money to accomplish this digital transformation. The short answer is: it depends (typical consulting response).
Many companies have invested a lot of money into ERP systems which have allowed them to optimize their business processes. Did all the projects run smoothly? No, but in the end, they did bring benefits and generated added value to companies. Sometimes at the expense of usability. And now comes the digital transformation? So, should we throw everything out and start all over again? The answer is evolution, not revolution. My personal belief is that you can start your digital transformation with a minimal investment, by implementing small solutions which can already leverage on your existing assets in SAP. The key is finding the low hanging fruit to start your journey. At Amista we use a three-step approach enabling companies becoming more digital.
1. Re-imagine the way you work today and Innovate
As our CEO often likes to say: "A fool with a tool is still a fool." In other words, if you don’t have use cases, technology can't help you. Therefore, you need to look at your business strategy and the challenges you are facing to execute it. And this is what we typically do in a design workshop. The deliverable of this workshop should be a mock-up of the solution.
After that, you can proceed to a proof of concept. The idea is to materialize the mock-up or design into a working prototype that we run with data in your IT landscape. And believe me, this is the moment where I see in people’s eyes that they finally understand what these software companies have been trying to say during these countless events.
Finally comes implementing the solution for real. And strangely enough, this seems to be a straightforward process when the previous two phases have been performed.
Because you have implemented a solution asked for and tested by the business. And this is key in innovation.
Our platform of choice for innovation is SAP Cloud Platform. SAP Cloud Platform is designed to accelerate digital transformation by helping you quickly, efficiently, and economically develop new applications without having to invest in massive infrastructure. Based on open standards, SAP Cloud Platform offers complete flexibility to connect your business with people and things intelligently.
2. Transform your business with simple solutions
So you now have done some innovations in your existing landscape. Step one accomplished, great. Up to the next one. In recent years, SAP has invested into making their solutions future proof. It has led to numerous innovations leveraging in-memory and cloud computing. The result is a simplification of the solution both regarding architecture and the user interface. What does that mean for you? Well, for new customers it means that the new SAP suite can now be implemented in a matter of months instead of years. How is this possible? As SAP moves towards the cloud with quarterly updates, implementations will now be more focused on activation of best practice processes and less about extending on existing functionality. So can't I extend anymore? Well, if you already invested in SAP Cloud Platform, you are one step ahead. In the future, it will be the preferred option to do your extensions allowing you to keep your core SAP solutions clean and simplifying updates.
And what if I have already an existing landscape? SAP has defined a migration path which allows you to migrate your environment towards the new SAP suite. For those of you who were quite inventive with the extensions, the migration needs to include a thorough study of each extension and its migration path.
But if you used the SAP Cloud Platform for the extensions, they are not lost and can be easily connected again to your new SAP Suite as they are on a separate platform.
With SAP's new generation ERP and CRM you can take advantage of an intelligent, next-generation cloud business suite which integrates your front- with your back-office. SAP S/4HANA is the new ERP business suite which combines business process automation with analytics, allowing you to turn real-time data into actions. C/4HANA is the new customer engagement solution. It combines marketing, sales, and service functionality aiming at delivering a contextual experience to your customers.
3. Make sure your employees are ready
In this new digital age, repetitive tasks will be more and more taken over by machines and software. And on top of that, the pace of technological innovation is faster than ever seen before. In a lot of industry sectors, this means that we are moving from process/task-based jobs to knowledge-based skills. Consequently learning will not be a one-time activity at school or university. Instead, people will need to acquire new skills continually to be able to keep up with change. And that also applies to you digital transformation projects.
Having great ideas and implementing great solutions is one thing, making sure your people have enough knowledge to use them correctly is the secret.
Therefore, I always stress that Learning should be an essential part of any implementation. Great, but what is the most efficient way? We believe in blended learning. It is a mix of e-learning during the deployment, combined with classroom training shortly before go-live and contextual help, which can be leveraged while using the new application. Using that methodology dramatically improves your team’s efficiency, satisfaction and reduces the support after go-live. SAP supports continuous learning with its learning solutions. With SAP Enable Now you can provide your employees with the knowledge they need precisely where and when it's needed. You can quickly create, maintain and deliver performance support, learning material, and documentation content. Integrating that content with the SuccessFactors Learning Management System (LMS) module allows you to better follow-up on the learning path of your employees.
Digital transformation is a journey that will bring a lot of opportunities for growth. However, you will face some challenges and need to make decisions. Applying the pragmatic approach, as described above, will certainly mitigate the risk and smoothen your journey. In any case, at Amista we are ready to support you all along the way. We like challenges. So throw us one. 😊
Stephane Colin - partner at Amista