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Digital Transformation” was the primary theme of the 2016 SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Annual Conference, with SAP reinforcing the slogan “Run Live, Run Simple.”  After attending the conference a few weeks ago, I would like to share my insights from the event. 

While digital transformation is certainly not a new term, many manufacturers are just now starting to invest time and resources into thinking digitally and what it means for their organizations.  Digital transformation is the process of employing digital technologies like social, mobile, cloud and analytics to transform an organization’s customer experience, operational processes and business models.  A great example is how Uber has been able to disrupt the car service industry simply by digitizing the process of connecting buyers and sellers.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

As highlighted above, the word “Digital” has definitely been incorporated into SAP’s vocabulary (although Gartner was talking about it years ago).  Throughout the keynotes and various sessions, there was a concerted focus on business value realization from digital transformation initiatives.  For our manufacturing customers, the need to be digital is knocking louder by the day.  “Digital” transforms your customer engagement in marketing, selling, service, and care so that you can be where your customers are, when they want you, with the products they need available to purchase. 

eLogic helps our customers chart the right path to competitive advantage through business & digital transformation with our proprietary best practices Strategy & Roadmap Playbook™.  

MACHINE LEARNING/IOT

There was a little buzz about machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) at the conference.  One of the more interesting demos that I saw was around their new Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) concept.  It was installed base management on steroids and helps customers to realize their equipment 360 strategies.  This is especially relevant for the manufacturing industry which typically has equipment installed in the field that needs to be monitored and serviced.  It takes a little effort to setup and maintain the master data but when done right, can be very powerful.  A new term introduced to me was “Machine Fingerprint”, which is a snapshot in time of the performance characteristics of a piece of equipment.  This is useful for manufacturers that bill based on usage or for proactive equipment servicing (prior to a predicted failure) and allows them to better serve their customers.

BIG INSIGHTS (formerly known as Big Data)

There was a lot of information on Big Data (pun intended) at the conference but one of the best terms I heard was during the keynote.  “Big Insights” resonated with me because big data is worthless if it is not used for insight that can be acted upon.  SAP’s “Run Live” term is relevant for big insights as they displayed their Digital Boardroom concept.  A user friendly, touch-enabled interface presents real-time, aggregated big data that can be drilled into further at the swipe of a finger. 

For manufacturing organizations, capturing big data and gleaning the resulting insights from their customer interactions and machine fingerprints will be crucial if they are going to compete in the Digital Age.

S/4 HANA

Just about everything at the conference was branded as “S/4 HANA”.  SAP is now marketing this as their “digital core” to impress upon customers that it is critical to migrate to it to enable digital transformation.  They also emphasized that the architecture is greatly simplified with S/4 HANA compared to ECC (less databases supported and size is 10x smaller, removal of unnecessary code, migration tools) which has led to much more stable code base and fewer reported OSS notes.

Manufacturers with complex product configuration should be able to continue to leverage their Variant Configuration (VC) investments with S/4 HANA.  However, since VC was not originally designed for the HANA platform, don’t expect your product configuration solutions to be able to take full advantage of HANA’s benefits.  eLogic is an influencer to SAP in this space through our participation in the Configuration Workgroup (CWG) and expect new developments in product configuration built specifically on S/4 HANA.  We will be sure to provide additional information as it becomes available so look forward to future blogs on the topic.

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT (Hybris Commerce / CPQ / Cloud for Customer)

“Hybris” was the second most-used word at the conference and SAP is using it to brand anything that has to do with customer engagement (commerce, sales, service, and marketing).  I think if you could somehow use the term S/4 HANA Digital Hybris with an SAP employee their head would explode on the spot.

With the Hybris acquisition now a few years old, SAP is starting to mature and realize its integrated offering for customer engagement.  This solution consists of the core Hybris Commerce platform, a new Hybris Marketing automation offering, Hybris CPQ for product configuration and the rebranded Hybris Cloud for Customer for sales force automation and service.  This is a powerful suite of tools that promise to seamlessly integrate with existing SAP ERP installations.

Customer engagement expertise for manufacturers is a differentiator for eLogic.  In this quickly evolving discipline, it is critical that organizations have a digital business strategy that drives the supporting technology roadmap.  Our proprietary Strategy & Roadmap Playbook™ helps our customers achieve just that and I would urge you to reach out to us if you are interested in more information.

SAP/MICROSOFT PARTNERSHIP

One of the keynote presentations highlighted the new relationship between SAP and Microsoft.  This means additional opportunities for eLogic to service our customers and deliver solutions leveraging our expertise on two of the strongest technology platforms.

Highlights include:

  • New Deployment Option: SAP HANA on the Microsoft Azure cloud
  • Cloud Services Integrations: Public Cloud Solutions from SAP and Office 365
  • Flexibility in the Cloud: Management and Security of Custom SAP Fiori Apps

Having attended many SAP conferences in the past, I would have to say that this one had a refreshing buzz to it that was absent the last couple of years (and not just because Coldplay hosted a private concert).  SAP is progressing on its own digital transformation as it incorporates HANA, Hybris and cloud-based technologies into their offerings.  They appear to have finally turned the corner on realizing their vision to the benefit of their customers.  Their solutions combined with eLogic’s digital business strategy and manufacturer expertise will help ensure that our customers “Run Live, Run Simple.”

The executive keynotes can be viewed using the following links:

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