Every now and then, after feeling exhausted from seemingly endless weeks at work, people find solace in traveling to remote, unexplored destinations. There is a mysterious allure in visiting locations that stimulate the spirits of travelers and give them a new lease on life. As the infrastructure of these areas improves, more and more people access them.
In many ways, disruptive technologies are like a travel adventure – a journey beyond “business as usual” to “business unusual and unexplored.” These technologies offer opportunities to go back to basics, reimagine processes in the context of today’s realities, and recreate satisfying customer and employee experiences.
Silently and gradually, disruptive technologies – such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud platforms, analytics, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning – have made it to the list of must-have technologies for most progressive and innovative organizations.
Maintaining Existing Landscapes During Solution Deployment
With the cost of devices and storage falling, the variety of available protocols and technologies is deep, and the pool of experts is growing. However, the journey from initial experimentation to full deployment of disruptive solutions requires the ability to deal with the uncertainties of a complex enterprise application landscape.
The concept of disruption rarely means replacing an existing enterprise application landscape with something entirely new. Instead, it is about allowing the latest applications to coexist with the legacy enterprise applications that are evolving to perform additional functions.
By realigning enterprise applications to current business needs, companies can tackle challenges such as:
- Network complexity: Take control over an exponentially larger volume of data and endpoint user base, always-on connectivity, and distributed ledger technology that involves a growing range of intermediaries and operations.
- New partners: Embrace non-traditional services such as data services, network discovery, asset management, security, and connectivity.
- Data explosion: Invest in a data warehouse to store, aggregate, and cleanse data. Combine it with capabilities for data compression and optimization to build a high-end, premium infrastructure.
- Computational network infrastructure: Address a high volume of critical data at the necessary scale and speed to provide real-time and near-real-time analytics through artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), or machine learning.
- Business process challenges: Make fundamental changes to processes and the enterprise applications that underpin them.
- Integration: Overcome complexity due to non-interoperable standards, new protocols, debugger workflows, libraries, or distributed ledgers.
- Security: Set the foundation for a significant undertaking that increases data, system security, and privacy.
Manage the Complexity of Current IT Architecture
The well-established, traditional framework of classifying enterprise architecture into defined boxes – like business, information, application, or technology architecture – seems to be a forced fit for disruptive technologies because overlaps inevitably happen. Instead, companies need to view disruptive technologies as enablers that take decision-making to new levels by integrating various stakeholders and automating processes to achieve timely results.
Consider the case of SAP Asset Intelligence Network. This network allows equipment users, service providers, and OEMs to collaboratively monitor vital equipment performance statistics and proactively dispatch maintenance crews with the right parts and skills to manually address equipment failures early on.
With this level of change in business processes and integrations, there is a need for an architectural portfolio that comprises:
- User experience architecture: Deal with omnichannel user experiences across devices and platforms.
- Operation architecture: Manage RPA and remote operation centers.
- Data architecture: Deliver advanced analytics – including AI and machine learning – in real time or near-real time.
- Dashboard architecture: Aid decision support and executive-level dashboards.
- Data warehouse architecture: Successfully handle the explosive growth of data.
- Cloud architecture: Move data and applications that enable the realization of next-generation technologies such as IoT.
- ERP Architecture: Establish classic ERP processes.
This approach empowers companies to decide which solution areas are significantly impacted by disruptive technologies and which ones experience minor changes. With the help of SAP Advisory Services, such as the digital architecture and road map design or the digital business ideation and modeling service, they can begin to adopt disruptive technologies by separating the architecture into a portfolio. This action allows companies to deliver the best outcomes from specific use cases and helps define the end-state portfolio blueprint, metrics, and service-level agreements.
Take, for example, Japan Tobacco International. The Swiss-based tobacco manufacturing giant chose to simplify and accelerate its digital business transformation with the help of SAP Advisory Services by assessing and designing its digital architecture and road map. By setting the foundation for a single platform of intelligence, enabled by SAP S/4HANA, Japan Tobacco International is leading the market with innovative strategies by using data-driven insights.
The company maintains that a critical part of digital transformation is the redefinition of the enterprise landscape and architecture. Doing so opens the door to a transformational opportunity for a company and its customers that can change the trajectory of its future success.
The next piece in the “Enterprise Architecture Landscape Strategy” series will explore how to deliver a suitable digital enterprise architecture, on-premise or cloud-based transformation strategy, and value proposition based on business priorities through SAP S/4HANA.
Bharti Maan is the director of Digital Transformation and Innovation Advisory at SAP.