While concerns over the user experience have been at the top of agendas of most CIOs for years, IT organizations were often focused on using technology to help employees get work done quickly, efficiently, and productively.
They would determine and document standards for creating the “right” digital interactions and delivered formal university courses to ensure that every user knew how to use a new application proficiently. They even designed solutions that people wanted to use, rather than being forced to use them out of necessity.
However, digital preferences are becoming so sophisticated that people are demanding more than just standards-based technology and simple interfaces. The expectation is for all digital experiences to be immersive, interactive, and intelligent. Employees are demanding access to the right service and information — whether they are online or offline — with interactions that are productive and applications that are easy to use. And customers expect this experience too.
Providing an experience that is intuitive for any user allows every existing and potential customer to get the basic services they need. At the same time, it’s challenging to shift the omnichannel customer experience across the entire business — unless the right foundation and mindset are in place.
Reimagining the Digital Core Ignites Innovative Thinking on User Experiences
For us at JG Summit, part of the answer to connecting the dots among customers, employees, and internal operations is our deployment of SAP S/4HANA. This next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite can help decision-makers across the business leverage real-time analytics to turn data points into insights that lead to well informed actions. But more importantly, this approach will allow us to create both top-line growth and bottom-line savings for the company.
With SAP S/4HANA, we are looking forward to building engaging and productive user experiences as a science of people, processes, and interactions — with technology as an underlying enabler. Built-in templates and intelligent capabilities, like artificial intelligence (AI), are just one piece of a larger puzzle when evolving user experiences with greater precision and personalization. What this suite delivers, especially when combined with the SAP Fiori user experience, is a digital core of intelligence that supports these experiences.
For example, we are planning to automate core human resources (HR) processes such as payroll, recruitment, and succession planning, which will elevate the role of our HR professionals and empower them to engage in in-depth conversations that are meaningful and actionable. Our finance and accounting teams are also considering this digital opportunity to focus more on delivering analysis of business performance, opportunities, and risks — instead of just generating reports.
Commitment from the Top Steers a Conglomerate in the Same Direction
Without a doubt, SAP S/4HANA has the potential to help us create the foundation we need to deliver user experiences that are responsive to everyone’s needs. But none of this is possible without the unwavering executive-level commitment and support we have received so far throughout JG Summit, especially from our CEO.
Since most IT projects are not purely technical in nature, they also require the right business sponsorship and governance to succeed. This business-led, IT-enabled approach to implementing SAP S/4HANA allows IT to work with every business area to ensure digital readiness and engage potential users to encourage adoption.
By adopting this mindset, we also created a Value Transformation Office to monitor predetermined milestones and outcomes to gauge the return on the digital investment. Through this governance structure, we are quantifying the value that SAP S/4HANA — as well as other technology implementations, add-ons, and updates — bring to the overall company, subsidiary, and individual consumer. This tactic enables us to view our efforts through the lens of reality, security, and practicality — not controversial perceptions, risk, and wishful thinking.
As I reflect on what my IT team has achieved to date, I am very excited to see how the business will continue to transform with SAP S/4HANA. Our operations are becoming more efficient. Our employees are innovating new ways to work more strategically and productively. We are designing products and services as well as shopping experiences that will continue to wow our customers. But more importantly, the IT organization is quickly becoming a fundamental partner for steering our entire conglomerate — all 200 companies and counting — toward strong future growth.
Discover why now is the time to join thousands of SAP customers, such as JG Summit, that are already using SAP S/4HANA to run their businesses in new ways.
Carlos Santos is CIO of JG Summit Holdings, an SAP customer.