Sapphire Barcelona – 24 May, 2023 – Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, has made significant progress in its digital transformation by using the SAP Business Technology Platform to accelerate its strategic direction and automate business processes, increase efficiency and ease of use.
With a wide range of business areas including container shipping, port terminals, logistics and supply chain businesses, Maersk, headquarted in Denmark, operates more than 700 vessels and covers around 343 ports in over 100 countries worldwide. Strategically, Maersk is moving away from being a shipping company to becoming an end-to-end supply chain provider.
From Container Shipping to End-to-End Supply Chain Provider
“Maersk is on its way to becoming an end-to-end supply chain provider, and this requires us to move into other areas of the transport sector, including air freight and land transport, as well as warehousing and distribution. With less than 10% of the money spent on supply chain and logistics going to ocean transport, Maersk needs to move into other areas to expand its business and continue to grow,” says Tapan Dash, Engineering Director, Maersk Technology, and continues:
“Maersk has developed a platform-based model to help us accelerate the transformation. The model consists of several different digital platforms, each of which consists of multiple entities, all of which create value for customers, suppliers or employees. Each entity integrates different business functions, applications, data and analytics. Maersk currently has 10-15 end-to-end platforms, such as finance, order management for ocean transport, supply chain management, etc. We are constantly adding new platforms and recently we created a sustainability platform to address this growing area.”
Designed, Built and Delivered by Maersk
Maersk is well on its way to implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud ERP. “The idea is to run a standard SAP S/4HANA solution, and then have the SAP Business Technology Platform as the platform that supports the innovation. I think this is the most optimal and where the magic happens”, says Tapan Dash, and continues:
“We’ve had a big focus on insourcing over the last couple of years, going from around 1,500 people in the technology organisation to over 6,000 now. In our SAP team, we were only around 35 in 2019. In 2022, we were 300, and the target is +550 SAP tech profiles by 2024. We work from a concept we call ‘designed, built and delivered by Maersk’.”
SAP Business Technology Platform Plays a Central Role
The SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), which brings together data and analytics, artificial intelligence, application development, automation and integration in a single environment, plays a key role in accelerating Maersk’s new end-to-end strategy.
“Technology plays an important role at Maersk and is one of the key drivers of transformation. We want to simplify our IT landscape and make it more agile. With the SAP Business Technology Platform, we can streamline our business processes and make our applications more agile and provide users, whether customers, suppliers or employees, with a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.”
Specifically, Maersk has used SAP BTP to develop and implement applications and solutions in areas such as:
- Customer Credit Management: Previously, a lot of manual activity was involved in the process, which could lead to errors and delays. Now Maersk uses SAP BTP to automate and differentiate their customer credit management process. The solution includes a credit score from BVD (third party), which is integrated via SAP Cloud Platform Integration. Using the SAP Fiori user interface, Maersk has created different roles, such as sales representative, credit analyst and approver. “So we have created a one-stop-shop that the employee logs into and from there he or she can manage the entire credit process for the customer,” says Tapan Dash.
- Vendor Account Reconciliation: Reconciling accounts payable statements is a challenge for many organisations. Maersk used SAP BTP’s automation layer and intelligent robotic process automation (SAP iRPA) to perform automated actions such as scanning emails and extracting attachments, converting unstructured data into structured data, and building validation logic into the rules within the SAP BTP platform, thereby reducing manual processes in Maersk’s shared service centres.
- Treasury Guarantees: Previously, this process was quite paper-intensive and could cause data quality issues, which in turn led to delays. Now, through SAP BTP, Maersk has automated the process and created two specific roles: bank guarantee applicant and approver. The solution also includes integration with external banks.
- Customer Cargo Release: Maersk also has customers who are cargo customers, i.e. they pay before their cargo is released. This requires a very time-sensitive process to ensure that payment has been received before the cargo is released. The workflow is triggered across multiple backend systems. Through built-in AI and process automation in SAP BTP, the payment is matched against the invoice, the bill of lading and the container release events. Maersk has created an AI trust quota that automatically authorises if everything is 100% correct. “Using the machine learning algorithm, we then find out why something is 70%, why something is 80%, and what we need to do to make it 100%. So, it’s fine-tuned based on that learning. We use the workflow, which again is an integrated development within SAP BTP, to get the approval process in place and get the invoice approved so that the container or the freight can be released to the customer if everything is not right in the first place,” says Tapan Dash.
- Planning and analysis: Maersk’s entire finance, planning and analysis is in the process of being moved to SAP Analytics Cloud. This enables Maersk to provide end-to-end financial planning and analysis, including budgeting and forecasting. Self-service options for planning and analysis in over 100 countries are a game changer in decision-making, with scorecards to visualise performance and productivity across regions.
“At Maersk, we are excited about the ongoing transformation where technology is at the centre and we strive to create business value by focusing on the customer, agility and high employee engagement” concludes Tapan Dash.