As a supplier, you want to be able to give a new business customer insight information, for example, order creation, invoice, stock data, detailed product information and delivery status as soon as possible. Using the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), Shimano Europe managed to halve its ‘onboarding time’.
Shimano Europe’s customers include bicycle manufacturers, bicycle shops, online retailers and distributors. The messages cover via Webservices (APIs) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
“By 2021, we were able to monitor 12 million messages,” says Ana Tosi, IT Senior Manager at Shimano Europe Group. “Remarkably, 75 per cent of these messages were based on point-to-point FTP (File Transfer Protocol). That quantity resulted in a large complex environment in which each integration was custom-built, with no monitoring and separate silos around each customer. This proved not scalable and increased the complexity to maintain the existing (1:1) integration landscape.”
“For ten customers, you also had to build ten integrations,” says Igor Mitrovic, SAP Integration Solution Architect at partner Acorel. Those integrations are costly and difficult to maintain, according to Mitrovic. Moreover, ‘connecting’ a new customer takes a long time. More than eight weeks of integration time was not unusual.
Especially when demand for bicycle components exploded during the corona pandemic, Shimano ran into the limitations of the integration landscape. Mitrovic: “Major retailers couldn’t even tell their customers yet when ordered parts would arrive. The chain was completely congested.”
“We needed to create a scalable landscape where we could effortlessly onboard new customers and provide them with the right information,” continues the SAP Integration Solution Architect. Tosi: “Customers need to be able to place their orders quickly, have real-time access to detailed product information and track orders from day to day.”
SAP BTP ‘no-brainer’
During discussions with SAP about a planned migration to SAP S/4HANA, Shimano Europe’s attention was drawn to the capabilities of the SAP BTP Integration Suite. “Using this solution was actually a no-brainer,” Tosi reflects. “We were already using SAP Hybris and also planning to migrate Shimano Europe ERP to SAP S/4HANA. Then it was logical and also cost-effective to use SAP BTP Integration Suite for integration with these systems.”
After Acorel was nominated by SAP as a partner for the implementation, a proof of concept was realised within ten days. A team from Shimano Europe and Acorel then developed 32 integrations. “With the same team and the same budget, we realised more integrations than we had originally planned,” Tosi outlines. “Some of these integrations are already in production, putting us ahead of our own schedule. We managed to accelerate the implementations and successfully anticipate technical go lives.”
Shimano and Acorel one team
That achievement is partly the result of the good synergy between Shimano and Acorel. Teamwork is therefore necessary. “Proper implementation of SAP BTP involves a lot. It is not simply a matter of pulling credit cards, installing, and done,” Mitrovic emphasises. “For example, you have to adapt your infrastructure and think about things like security and identity and access management, error handling, monitoring, etc.”
For example, using SAP Build Workzone, SAP Business Application Studio and SAP Workflow Management, Shimano Europe and Acorel created extensions for monitoring and operational support. These extensions provide insight into metrics such as message volumes, errors and trends, improving the management of the end-to-end integration landscape.
As a platform, SAP BTP helped improve the security of data flows between internal business processes and customers. With SAP API Management, the security level was increased and features such as policies and quotas (real time calls limitations) were implemented that can apply to critical business processes such as order-to-cash.
97 per cent cost avoidance
Although Shimano Europe is still in the middle of implementing the new integration landscape, Tosi says the benefits are already evident when comparing to other existing alternatives. For example, by switching from an external broker for messaging to SAP BTP, the company expects to have cost savings of around 97 per cent. Onboarding time for new customers has been halved, from eight weeks to four weeks (of technical development).
Shimano’s business customers also have real-time access to the information they need. “With the new integration infrastructure, Shimano Europe is well positioned to respond quickly to changing market conditions and seize new opportunities,” concludes Tosi. “The improved data exchange with partners and customers will strengthen Shimano Europe’s competitive position and increase retailer and distributor satisfaction.”