Supply Chain 2021: A Year in Review

As we face the end of 2021, I am looking back on the year to share some highlights and thoughts on SAP Digital Supply Chain.

Despite what might be viewed as a tough year for supply chain, with visually dramatic crises — the Suez Canal blockage, shortages in the UK, semiconductor chip shortages, and so forth —  2021 was a significant year once again in underscoring how vital the supply chain is to the world.

Supply chain became crucial to businesses and is now embedded in companies’ C-suite as part of critical decision making — even the President of the United States took up the cause. Companies began or continued updating their supply chain capabilities and strategies: design to plan, manufacture to deliver, and operate and service. Digital transformation became tangible, as the companies that had started their projects earlier were able to navigate the challenges more easily.

At SAP, we had many areas that, when I reflect on 2021, are significant. Here are some of my highlights:

  • We updated our strategy for SAP Digital Supply Chain across design to operate, covering the life cycle of products from design, plan, manufacture, deliver, and operate. The strategy outlines what we are doing to help SAP customers build supply chains that will serve them in the coming years.
  • Our Industry 4.0 portfolio coalesced into strategic offerings that connect the physical world of engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain with enterprise business information, processes, and systems. This enables agile, predictive business steering through autonomous machines connected to each other and connected to business systems. IDC MarketScape recognized SAP’s efforts in the “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Industrial IoT Platforms and Applications in Manufacturing 2021 Vendor Assessment.”
  • SAP was ranked No. 1 in the Gartner Market Share Analysis Report and  was recognized as a Leader in transportation and warehouse management systems, showing our efforts to help customers become more resilient.
  • We launched the SAP Digital Supply Chain Management, edition for SAP S/4HANA, helping customers to focus on their immediate supply chain needs in logistics, manufacturing, planning, and operations. As part of the portfolio helping customers to transform their businesses, it is also a stepping stone toward the broader transformation offered through SAP S/4HANA.
  • In June, as part of SAPPHIRE NOW, we launched SAP Business Network to combine Ariba Network, SAP Logistics Business Network. and SAP Asset Intelligence Network to a single access for a holistic view into the supply chain ecosystem, logistics and traceability, as well as equipment management and maintenance.

I’ve mentioned before that it s an exciting time for supply chain, and 2021 was quite a ride. As we face the new year, many of the supply chain challenges from this year will continue, and we will certainly have some new ones that will surface.

SAP is working to ensure our portfolio will help customers navigate through any turbulence in the best position possible. I’m looking forward to the adventures 2022 brings.


Franz Hero is head of SAP Digital Supply Chain Development.
This story originally appeared on LinkedIn.