The fast-changing world, with all its opportunities and challenges, is here to stay. Businesses today are faced with changing business models and must deal with competitors that were not even on the radar a year ago.

SAP can help organizations address these new challenges and opportunities by giving them the flexibility and agility they need to stay ahead of the curve. And while this can be daunting, it is also a unique opportunity for every leader — whether in IT or a line of business — to become a hero. With the right software, companies can make better, faster decisions and provide better customer experiences thanks to an end-to-end overview of their business that makes use of intelligent technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

The marketplace is complex.
The answer is the Intelligent Enterprise.

For example, mass customization is becoming commonplace in many industries, but this isn’t possible without a strong backbone of business systems to coordinate the processes and activities required to meet customer demands. Just as the hands, feet, and ears cannot work without a solid connection to the heart and brain, there cannot be any innovation toward customers without a proper back office in place. An intelligent back office provides the foundation for unparalleled business agility while ensuring compliance and process auditability.

Companies cannot execute any marketing campaigns if they are not able to process thousands of orders in a second, send out individual invoices to thousands of customers, or have full control and visibility of their inventory. This is where SAP S/4HANA comes into play.

No matter how it is deployed or consumed, SAP S/4HANA offers unmatched intelligence and automation powered by machine learning. It is the only cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that can also be adopted in hybrid scenarios, allowing SAP customers to decide at their own pace when and how they want to move to the cloud.

A Full Spectrum of Color

It’s important to understand that even though they share the same code base, simplified data model, and user experience, SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP S/4HANA for on-premise and third-party infrastructure landscapes are two different solutions – and this is intentional.

SAP S/4HANA on premise is very functional and modular, whereas our cloud solution is more standardized, which allows end-to-end, best practice processes to be established more efficiently. While SAP S/4HANA offers an incredibly broad scope, SAP S/4HANA Cloud provides a more defined but ever-growing scope that is tailored around best practices and offers a balance between simplicity and breadth of scope.

Our customers can choose to take individual capabilities and move to the cloud at a controlled pace, while keeping other areas of the business on premise thanks to our new modular ERP strategy. They can take their own business requirements and strategic vendor relationships into consideration when choosing from public cloud, private cloud, or on-premise landscapes. Depending on a company’s needs and requirements, it’s possible to decide exactly which standardized processes to run in the cloud. For example, a company could choose to take project management to the cloud while keeping its finance system on premise. Just as in the real world, there isn’t just black or white; there is a full spectrum of color, a full spectrum of choice.

Then again, we are seeing more and more requests coming from customers with respect to cloud ERP. This trend is also backed up by a recent analyst report in which SAP was named as a Leader in the IDC MarketScape Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-enabled Operational ERP Applications 2019 Vendor Assessment (doc # US43702818 March 2019).

To offer our customers a competitive and comprehensive ERP scope in the cloud with a clear business value, we continue to innovate and refine SAP S/4HANA Cloud with new functionality that is delivered every quarter. The advantages are clear: A seamless upgrade experience to include new innovations on-the-fly multiple times a year, the ability to rapidly scale with agility, and the fact that SAP takes care of the infrastructure.

Customers that want to preserve existing on-premise investments can deploy SAP S/4HANA on public cloud infrastructure providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google Cloud Platform, and still enjoy the same innovations as in the cloud on a yearly release cycle. This allows customers to protect legacy investments made in on-premise customization and configuration, while also taking full advantage of cloud economies of scale for infrastructure. While the infrastructure provider governs the physical infrastructure, the customer controls the operating system, databases, and implementation of SAP S/4HANA, and can perform updates and maintenance according to their own schedule.

Prepare Your Business for the Future with SAP S/4HANA Cloud

SAP S/4HANA will write a new chapter in the history of ERP by combining traditional business functionality with emerging technologies, digital user experiences, and next-generation business practices. In the past, customization was a widely accepted part of on-premise ERP deployment models. But as the technology behind public cloud solutions improved, this agility-limiting approach became an unpractical choice when seeking to maximize the potential of cloud ERP.

Today, companies should choose an ERP suite that provides a consistent and complete choice, using the best of every deployment model as seamlessly as possible. In fact, many companies turn to multi-tier environments that combine two or more landscape options while moving more and more processes to the cloud.

To learn more about how you can make your enterprise intelligent and become a hero, I invite you to join my presentations at SAPPHIRE NOW with customers Delivery Hero and Vinci Energies — either in person onsite or by watching the replay.

Jan Gilg is senior vice president and head of SAP S/4HANA.