From SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA Cloud: The Importance of Aligning Business, People, and Technology


Just as businesses are evolving to meet today’s challenges, technology companies, including SAP, are also transforming product strategies to become a better fit for the next generation of organizations. That is happening with enterprise resource planning (ERP) as well.

In my conversations with Paul Saunders, head of Product Strategy for SAP S/4HANA, he says “ERP is like music.” Whether its baroque, rock and roll, or punk rock, music is structured upon the same core building blocks, yet this essential core structure has been the basis for innumerable musical genres and flavors throughout history.

In Saunders’ view, ERP is no different.

The core purpose of ERP has always been to help customers manage their business functions within a centralized and integrated system, yet ERP has undergone significant changes since the 1960s. It incorporated customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain, evolved toward cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), and fundamentally recharacterized itself as agile, nimble, collaborative, mobile-friendly, and data driven. Like music, says Saunders, “ERP exists to provide for the audience of the moment.”

For some customers, selecting the right ERP deployment option to suit their business needs is not quite as straightforward as choosing new vinyl at the record store. And for current on-premise ERP customers, some of which may not have run an upgrade in years, the prospect of change can feel overwhelming. SAP is ready to guide them through it and accompany them on the journey.

Upgrading From ECC to SAP S/4HANA Cloud

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Upgrading From ECC to SAP S/4HANA Cloud

The Next Step for ERP Customers

As is often the case in life, it’s first about defining the what before the how. At SAP, we encourage customers to ask themselves: “Where do I want my business to be in the next five to 10 years?” The intention should be clear from the start. If you can already answer this in one succinct sentence, you’re already well on your way.

Next, it’s about the how: “What technology is best fit for purpose to make my company’s ambition a reality?” SAP’s purpose is always to have open and honest conversations about which technologies can help get customers to where they want to be. SAP ECC customers should carefully weigh up their options in conversation with SAP, without blindly jumping on the cloud bandwagon.

As Cedric Price rightfully said, “Technology is the answer, but what is the question?” Customers should first be clear on the destination before they start their transformation journey.

SAP’s job is to support customers in this process, and translate business needs into solution offerings that work — that applies to all customers.

Perhaps you’re a business owner looking for cost-effective, easy-access technological solutions to get your company up and running. Public cloud could be the perfect deployment option. For a large multinational that wants the freedom to customize elements of your own cloud infrastructure, a private cloud might be an ideal solution. Perhaps you want to exploit the flexibility and innovation of public cloud, while keeping sensitive data in your own data center to meet certain regulatory requirements. In that case, a hybrid deployment model could be a good fit.

For an SAP ECC customer, for whom this all sounds a bit overwhelming, there are plenty of options — whether continuing to run SAP ECC standard support or starting the next conversation with SAP about how we can help you drive innovative value that differentiates you to your customers.

There is no right or wrong approach; there is just the best approach for your business and SAP can help you find that.

At SAP, we are proud to have an ERP solution for every business need.

Laura Marwood is a product strategist for SAP S/4HANA.