Digital Process Automation: Kicking Off a New Generation of Operating Models

More and more, we’re living in a culture of digital innovation and experimentation – and digital process automation represents the latest domain of experimentation. For SAP partners, this is an opportunity to address every conceivable area of need – from job roles to customer experiences and business processes – with SAP Business Technology Platform.

The concept of process automation may not be new, but it’s now fueling a wide assortment of business scenarios that go beyond simple processes, tasks, and workflows. Companies are now digitalizing their operations – reaching into their vendor networks, business partners, and customers – to address organizational needs more holistically and strategically.

At SAP, many of our partners are using SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to help customers take advantage of this trend to build applications that drive revenue growth. By embedding modern automation capabilities in line-of-business systems, they can improve information usability and process efficiency with automation capabilities such as verification workflows, approval processes, content integration, or the retirement of outdated materials and inventory.

These examples are only a small glimpse into the automation use cases that SAP BTP can support. Through its operational layer, the platform provides a portfolio of low-code development tools and prebuilt content that can enable our partners and their customers to drive critical improvements with automation.

Setting the Foundation for Performance Improvement

When first considering automation, most organizations often think about their processes. Why? To increase their operational efficiency, make better decisions, improve performance and customer satisfaction, and, better yet, allow employees to focus on more strategic work.

SAP BTP supports this entry into the automation world by providing business process intelligence, empowering users with a low-code and no-code platform, workflow capabilities, robotic process automation (RPA), and machine learning. Our customers can transform their business safely and predictably with proven methodologies for project and process governance and a simulation engine that evaluates the impact of change.

With these capabilities, organizations can adopt a range of use cases. For example, Uniper has automated job requisitioning, streamlined processes for requesting and approving time off, and accelerated role authorization, registration, and authentication. In return, the energy market powerhouse realized 50% time savings on plant inspections and 10 times faster data entry for job requisitions.

Meanwhile, companies such as Villeroy & Boch Group have offloaded rule-based tasks, including the checking, classification, and processing of thousands of documents. This approach freed up employees to focus on nonroutine activities that help maximize business value and improve customer experiences.

Cultivating a Portal That Unifies Work Experiences

When using legacy workflows or out-of-date portals, maintaining a cohesive operation of multiple departments, suppliers, partners, and service providers can be difficult. But SAP BTP can help companies overcome that challenge by providing quick and intuitive mobile access to essential functions, documentation, and resources – everything a business needs to support organizational processes and strengthen information management company-wide.

The platform delivers an expanding set of services that enable customers and partners to maximize the value of existing SAP applications – combining access to external data and systems through integration. Our partners can then leverage their expertise and knowledge to extend those digital assets to develop capabilities that, for example, introduce automation into complex processes and workflows and connect internal and external stakeholders.

By pulling all these innovations together into a user-friendly portal, the entire business can collaborate and access information anytime and anywhere and use that intelligence to take decisive action on risks and opportunities. Administrative processes and workflows are further simplified with a streamlined user interface, while systems and data are kept secure with authentication.

By adopting this use case for SAP BTP, food exporter SunRice teamed up with SAP partner Bourne Digital Pty. Ltd. to extend existing systems and enhance its growers’ portal.

Inspiring Lasting Connections Between People and Business

On a journey to modernization, most companies choose to overhaul their aging legacy systems, cumbersome processes, and paper-based reporting to improve operational efficiency so they can adapt quickly to changing market conditions.

One approach that many customers follow is migrating to SAP S/4HANA Cloud and implementing the SAP Workflow Management service and the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, all of which are part of SAP BTP. With the help of a partner, customers can embed analytics capabilities into existing business applications and establish enterprise-wide governance to help optimize the management of general ledgers, revenue, and expenses. Then, they can quickly transform their enterprise resource planning (ERP) data to automate tasks such as financial and management reporting.

The benefits of system automation can quickly add up as individual process efficiencies are combined, resulting in reduced administration and reporting times, consolidation of financial results, and elimination of manual processes. Business planners can also leverage strategic dashboards generated by SAP Analytics Cloud to gain near-real-time insights into critical performance indicators. Additionally, with the inclusion of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, they can analyze scenarios, create forecasts, and predict future growth.

Emulating the above path, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and its software partner Bluetree Pty. Ltd. automated financial and management reporting, streamlined data-driven decision-making, and delivered a superior user experience.

Improving the Customer Experience from Lead to Order

Automating lead-to-order processes is particularly interesting to companies that characterized their customer experiences with fast response times, little to no fulfillment errors, and inventory accuracy. Yet, even more compelling is the opportunity to enhance order visibility, efficiency, and integration from early marketing touchpoints to deal closure and beyond – accelerating customer loyalty and fueling profitable business growth.

SAP customers can adopt this use-case scenario with a lead-to-order intelligent workflow API package – developed and maintained by one of our partners, IBM. The package spans multiple solutions such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud and the SAP Customer Experience portfolio, which spans sales automation and configure, price, and quote (CPQ) solutions.

Similar chatbot-enabled scenarios enable organizations to benefit from the automatic and rapid dissemination of relevant sales intelligence, price optimizations, and a real-time outlook into sales and pipeline performance. Furthermore, they can create lead and CPQ processes integrated with customer self-services, providing a collaborative customer experience beginning with the first interaction.

Taking Business Intelligence to the Next Level

The more companies digitally transform, the more agile, efficient, and innovative they expect to be. And of course, they see digital process automation as a critical milestone in their journey to becoming an intelligent enterprise.

But this form of digitalization is much more than automating basic processes and workflows. It also expands existing systems and data and adapts them to meet new regulatory requirements, innovative business functions, emerging customer expectations, and more.

By using SAP BTP as their unified and open platform for innovation, partners can help customers increase their business agility while adapting and responding to changing requirements and conditions. Furthermore, the addition of intelligent automation can boost customer satisfaction as new efficiencies are gained through the redirection of resources toward higher-value activities and the reinvention of workflows that enable a continuous stream of process improvements.

Most importantly, our partners and customers are supported by the business, industry, and technical knowledge of a global ecosystem. Together, with SAP BTP and our enablement services, they can optimize the use of our back-end technology and understand our application life cycle and road map – all with a focus on shaping their unique vision of an intelligent enterprise.

To learn more about how SAP partners are helping businesses succeed with a unified technology platform, explore my other articles. If you’re interested in software partnership opportunities with SAP, check out SAP PartnerEdge, Build. If you’re already a partner, check out these exciting initiatives: Hack2Build and SAP Co-Innovation Lab.


Jagdish Sahasrabudhe is CTO of Global Partner Organization at SAP.