I’m still buzzing from last week’s RISE with SAP announcement; I firmly believe this new Business Transformation as a Service offering is a going to be a veritable game changer for businesses: bundling products and services to allow customers to start and to progress on their intelligent enterprise journey on their own terms, and at a pace that suits them.

Of course, our market-leading intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a cornerstone of this offering. Regular product updates serve to provide customers with innovations and enhancements that can be consumed immediately in order to seize new business opportunities, strengthen their market position, streamline operations, and build resilience in more challenging times.

As the last 12 months have clearly demonstrated, when the world we know is turned on its head, those businesses able to sense changes and identify potentials, able to adapt quickly to unforeseen needs and unfamiliar circumstances are the ones best positioned to emerge strongest from the pandemic.

Introducing SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release 2102

Just like previous updates, today’s release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2102 provides customers with new capabilities to further the successful transformation of their business. Short development sprints and continuous delivery coupled with a close relationship with companies in all industries and user groups around the world allow us to prioritize capabilities that we know our customers need now and can benefit from straight away. Allow me to share with you some of the key additions in this latest release.

A company’s financial operations are like the oil that keeps an engine running smoothly. Particularly in challenging times, a well-managed cash flow is crucial. And in a volatile business environment, companies need to be able to act and adapt swiftly to changing circumstances. In SAP S/4HANA Cloud for finance, we introduce the simulation cockpit for integrated financial planning, which allows management and controlling stakeholders to perform what-if analysis and simulate the impact of changes in factors like sales quantity or personnel expenses. A further highlight in the area of finance is the flexible assignment of accounting principles to ledgers. In order to run parallel accounting processes in their systems, customers need to use several accounting principles — for example, IFRS and a local accounting principle such as HGB. New customers that use SAP Central Business Configuration to configure their systems can now flexibly assign the accounting principles they require to their respective ledgers. And the best thing: a single configuration is required to assign the ledger to the accounting principle throughout SAP finance applications such as general ledger, treasury, and revenue recognition.

In recent releases we have focused significant development efforts on building out new capabilities in solution order management, which support customers to transform their product to higher-margin solutions comprising complementary products and services. This release sees the introduction of subscriptions for consumption-based business, integrating SAP Subscription Billing and allowing users to create subscription services as well as sales and service products in a single order. This facilitates the sale of revenue-boosting bundles of physical products together with one-time, recurring, and consumption-based services.

Turning our attention to the sales department, I cannot help but think of the old adage “Time is money.” Intelligent automation in the creation of sales orders means a real boost to the efficiency of sales teams. A sales representative who doesn’t have to invest high manual effort into creating orders in the system can already move on to the next sale without delay. The SAP Fiori app in SAP S/4HANA Cloud release 2102 creates sales orders from unstructured data in PDF files. After a purchase order file in PDF format is uploaded, the system automatically extracts master data from the file. This data is saved in a sales order request, which can later be converted into a sales order. This user-friendly approach considerably reduces manual — and often error-prone — effort.

The smart application of intelligent technologies is key to any company’s digital transformation. Each update of SAP S/4HANA Cloud brings additional tools to increase the intelligence of your business processes. One highlight in this release is in the use of machine learning algorithms to provide system support in maintenance notifications. Maintenance technicians or supervisors can have the system suggest the most likely damage code by automatically analyzing information that is already collected through the maintenance process. This can significantly shorten the time needed to assign the correct damage code to a maintenance notification, speeding up the time to resolution for the customer. It also improves data quality for later breakdown analysis.

We also continue to grow the intelligence and automation of SAP S/4HANA Cloud through SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation – hundreds of predefined bots are available to help drive automation within your business. See the SAP Best Practices Explorer and the SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation bot store for more information.

This just scratches the surface of the innovations delivered with SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2102. Of course, there are further enhancements across all areas of the product for the benefit of all lines of business. Familiarize yourself with some of the other highlights through our series of videos and release blogs, or take a look at this complete overview of what’s new.

Sven Denecken is COO SAP S/4HANA and head of Product Success at SAP SE.