Our last quarterly release came hot on the heels of the announcement of RISE with SAP. This time — as we launch our latest update, SAP S/4HANA Cloud release 2105, three months later — we can reflect on just how well the market has received our business transformation as a service offering, making it a significant accelerator in our customers’ journey to the cloud.

SAP has also been named a Customers’ Choice in the December 2020 Gartner Peer Insights “Voice of the Customer”: Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Enterprises. We consider both to be a testament to the strength of our strategy and our ability to deliver.

As always, this quarter’s update to our intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) system includes innovations for all lines of business. You will see additions to familiar themes that are growing in scope from release to release, such as parallel accounting or subscription billing. In other areas, we are kicking off the rollout of brand new capabilities to help our customers achieve operational excellence and gain competitive edge.

One such example is in the area of sourcing and procurement, where we introduce proactive delivery insights for ordered items, using Internet of Things (IoT) and situation handling to give a holistic and transparent view of the entire delivery process. Unlike before, when damage to ordered goods could only be ascertained and reported upon delivery, purchasers can now be kept informed of the condition of goods during transit. Should any damage occur, the purchaser is immediately informed and prompted to take appropriate action to increase on-time delivery performance. By understanding and accounting for these nuances, we can help elevate our end-customer experience.

In asset management, we’ve added the SAP Maintenance Assistant, a native mobile app for technicians to manage various tasks, including handling work orders and operations, creating and managing maintenance requests, and assessing priorities. The app empowers workers on the move: it allows them to download relevant data on their phone and gives them the option to work effectively offline. Not only does this make the workforce more flexible and efficient, it also cuts back significantly on paperwork. In addition, with the object part code in notifications to maintenance technicians, we can help them leverage machine learning algorithms to propose likely failure codes in the maintenance notification. With this, we enable predictive maintenance by automatically analyzing information already collected during the maintenance process. This not only increases the quality of the data but improves user performance and maximizes efficiency for the customer.

Since one of the key challenges in managing a project is handling the impact of changes to its budget, we now offer customers, under the umbrella of enterprise portfolio and project management, a new SAP Fiori app to manage project budget transfers. This app is designed to tackle this challenge with the greatest of flexibility; budget plans can be adjusted at work-breakdown structure (WBS) element level without having to upload the budget plan for the entire project.

Processes that support businesses in monetizing subscription-based business models have been in focus in our recent releases. The latest enhancements in the 2105 release will continue to enhance subscription lifecycle management, billing, and accounting, as well as include the integration of SAP Subscription Billing into contract accounting and invoicing for high-volume subscription scenarios. This enables charges to be consolidated into a single invoice. Additional features include integration to contract-based revenue recognition, fine-grained control of subscription profile settings, enhanced integration of bills, and support for subscription lifecycle management, billing, and accounting.

Similarly, universal parallel accounting has been an area of significant development in recent releases. It allows companies to prepare and present financial statements according to different sets of accounting standards using ledgers across end-to-end processes. This latest release gives customers even more flexibility when choosing to perform parallel valuations and reporting for each ledger, resulting in individually calculated values for financial and management accounting. This helps ensure that our customers can take full advantage of consistent parallel value flows and full audit trails that fulfill local and group-wide reporting requirements. High levels of automation support greater accuracy and decreased manual effort.

The 2105 release also delivers new business content for SAP Financial Compliance Management — more than 30 of the most-used out-of-the-box controls that can be tailored to the organization’s specific needs as required. With these controls in place, customers can now take advantage of the proactive risk management qualities and increasing levels of financial compliance.

I also wanted to mention our new bot environment, SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation 2.0. To find out how the hundreds of bots already delivered can help you to meet your automation goals, check out the iRPA Bot store and SAP Best Practices Explorer. And new built-in support improves the customer support experience by providing access to real-time support while using SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Providing efficient, simplified, and guided support channels, built-in support allows users to search for information, get help from an intelligent chatbot, or communicate with SAP Support experts. This will help further redefine the customer service landscape and allows us to support customer needs at more touchpoints along their journey

That concludes the whistle-stop tour of my favorite innovations in this quarter’s release.

To hear more about all the other great innovations that come into play with the SAP S/4HANA Cloud release 2105, take a look at our videos and release blogs.

As always, our goal is to provide our customers with timely innovations that they need to remain at the top of their game. In a challenging business climate, preparing for a digital business transformation is imperative for our customers — SAP S/4HANA is a powerful companion to take that next step.

Jan Gilg is president SAP S/4HANA.