The Intelligent Enterprise
In today’s fast-moving world, businesses are constantly dealing with changes. What becomes clear is businesses with a digital strategy have been at an advantage to adapt to and navigate the crisis better. The COVID-19 crisis has made this imperative more urgent than ever. It has pushed companies over the technology tipping point and speeded up the adoption of digital technologies by several years.
Shifts during the crisis are most likely to stick through the recovery or have been transformed forever. To stay ahead, businesses need to adjust to evolving customer needs or expectations, increase remote working and online collaborations, build redundancy and full visibility in the supply chain with the qualification of additional suppliers, and use advanced technologies in operations and business decision-making. SAP’s products and services address this need for agility by delivering software services to enable businesses to integrate and extend end-to-end (E2E) business processes, create new business models, and ultimately run as intelligent enterprises.
Even though this book is mainly about SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), it is important to understand the overall framework and how SAP BTP is fitting into the picture as the platform of Intelligent Enterprise. In this chapter, we are going to cover the following topics:
- What is Intelligent Enterprise?
- SAP offerings for Intelligent Enterprise
What is Intelligent Enterprise?
To overcome challenges and stay ahead in their industry, businesses must be agile and resilient. Businesses should consistently apply advanced technologies and best practices to transform, innovate, and grow more profitable and sustainable. Intelligent Enterprise is the strategy and framework that represents what a modern enterprise looks like. SAP’s strategy is enabled by an entire portfolio of products and services to help businesses to become intelligent enterprises—best-run businesses are intelligent enterprises.
So, what does an intelligent enterprise look like? An intelligent enterprise will run the most critical business processes with industry-leading applications that work together smoothly and with best practices. These processes span different areas of business operations from lead generation to payment, recruiting to retirement, sourcing to managing different categories of spend, and product design to operate. Data is connected through all these processes to increase efficiency, gain better insights, and make decisions confidently.
The following screenshot provides an overview of the Intelligent Enterprise framework and its components. Through this chapter, we will introduce them and how they fit into the overall framework:
Figure 1.1: Intelligent Enterprise overview
SAP offerings for Intelligent Enterprise
The SAP Intelligent Enterprise framework provides essential components and helps businesses to adopt capabilities and deliver business outcomes. In this section, we will first discuss the major components of Intelligent Enterprise. After that, we will discuss how they are integrated through business processes and suite qualities.
Intelligent Suite and Industry Cloud
SAP offers the Intelligent Suite, an integrated suite of applications to support E2E business processes. This suite helps businesses to manage every part of their organization and processes, including customers, employees, supply chains, products, finance, and spend. This comprehensive solution suite brings together SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors, customer experience, and intelligent spend solutions with out-of-the-box integrations, alongside critical business processes that every business will need, such as Lead to Cash, Design to Operate, Source to Pay, and Recruit to Retire. The Intelligent Suite is both well integrated and can be consumed in a modular way. It is also infrastructure-agnostic, which results in simplifying adoption and customer choices of running in SAP’s cloud infrastructure or through partner cloud providers.
Intelligent Suite offers a great foundation with integrated E2E processes for all industries. Industry Cloud is an extension of Intelligent Suite with innovative industry cloud solutions built by SAP and its partners in SAP BTP. SAP’s Industry Cloud is an open business process and technology platform to foster co-innovation between customers, partners, and SAP, to jointly create new business practices resulting in a set of solutions relevant to respective industries. Partners who are looking to extend Intelligent Enterprise can find open application programming interfaces (APIs), data models, commercialization models, and—of course—SAP BTP to innovate for different industries.
SAP BTP is the technological foundation for the intelligent enterprise. It is a unified, business-centric, and open platform for SAP applications and the entire SAP ecosystem. In a nutshell, SAP BTP provides capabilities in the areas of application development, database and data management, analytics, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), integration, and extension. It is the platform that integrates SAP’s Intelligent Suite and the foundation of Industry Cloud. It provides businesses with what they need to transform their business, and the flexibility to run their business applications in multi-cloud environments. SAP BTP can be leveraged to integrate with your existing information technology (IT) landscape, extend SAP solutions including integration with third-party solutions, and enhance the ability to turn data into value.
At its global Sapphire Now conference in June 2021, SAP announced a bold vision to create new business communities through SAP Business Network, which brings together SAP Ariba Network, SAP Logistics Business Network, and SAP Asset Intelligence Network. It brings together over 5 million organizations that will benefit from this connected community through the unified offering of SAP Business Network. The first major offering is a unified trading partner portal that provides new collaboration scenarios and enables greater responsiveness. It centralizes access to explore and collaborate with customers, supports intelligent trading partner onboarding and registration, and provides a highly configurable workbench enabling personalized experience based on roles.
In addition, buyers and trading partners can collaborate using shared data and workflows, applying network-wide intelligence to achieve informed business decisions.
Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime. Businesses must show accountability and operate in an intelligent way and embed sustainability management as part of core business processes. Sustainability must include raw material sourcing, manufacturing, logistics, or even recycling processes, so E2E supply chain transparency is critical.
SAP solutions have embedded analytical and transactional capabilities that integrate sustainability performance and insights into business processes, which provide a solid foundation to optimize business results and sustainability impacts together. This means businesses can manage product footprints holistically and understand carbon emission insights through the entire value chain. They can manage extended producer responsibility by keeping track of public commitments and new regulations, streamlining compliance processes, and leveraging business network intelligence to gain full supply chain visibility (SCV).
O-data is operational data; it’s the insights from day-to-data operations, for all the business processes, in sales, service, human resources (HR), finance, and procurement. O-data tells what is happening. X-data is experience data and is fundamentally different from O-data. It is the human factor—beliefs, emotions, intentions, and sentiments. X-data tells you why things are happening, as well as what matters most to your customers, employees, products, and brands.
SAP has the most comprehensive portfolio to help companies run their businesses, across all lines of business. This is where O-data comes from. Qualtrics is the XM platform to collect X-data from all kinds of channels. X-data adds insights into human factors, helping operational systems take action on every moment that matters, to optimize processes that lead to outcomes of better customer satisfaction and employee engagement, better product-market fit, and brand success.
When X-data connects with O-data, businesses can start to understand why things are happening and put in place necessary actions for improvements. This is the continuous feedback and improvement loop that we can summarize as a simple methodology of listen, understand, and act. This is what all businesses will need to win and grow in this experience economy.
Business Process Intelligence
Business Process Intelligence (BPI) is the process layer within the SAP portfolio, combining process insights and improvement solutions from SAP and process mining and transformation technology through the acquisition of Signavio. It includes components such as process discovery, mining, design and simulate, improvement, rollout, and governance of workflows. BPI solutions help businesses to understand and transform their processes and lay the foundation to become the intelligent enterprise of the future.
SAP embraces a multi-cloud strategy and provides certain flexibilities for customers to run their applications on the infrastructure of their choice, either in SAP data centers or through a partnership with leading cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Alibaba Cloud in China. It helps customers to be more agile and works better with their own cloud strategies, providing necessary optimizations to increase cloud resiliency, business continuity (BC), security operations, and opportunities to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).
A key part of SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise strategy is integration, to provide out-of-the-box integration for E2E business processes in the cloud and in hybrid scenarios and provide a consistent user experience (UX) with a core set of suite-like qualities. The integration approach goes far beyond technical integration; instead, it offers a holistic integration of business processes, technology, and data. Together, it helps to lower efforts for customized integrations, shorten time to value (TTV), and reduce the complexity of operations. The integration also enables intelligence with connected data and insights.
Integrated business processes
SAP is continuing to invest in integrated business processes across the portfolio, and has made significant progress with a cloud-first approach but also by enabling hybrid scenarios with SAP S/4HANA on-premises. Key processes include the following:
- Lead to Cash
- Recruit to Retire
- Source to Pay
- Design to Operate
Lead to Cash
Today, it is important for organizations to engage with their customers most effectively. The Lead to Cash process brings together SAP Customer Experience (SAP CX) solutions (including SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Customer Data Cloud, SAP Configure Price Quote (SAP CPQ), and more) and SAP S/4HANA to help organizations understand their customers’ needs and meet their expectations.
The customer experience really starts from the initial interaction with prospects, all the way to order fulfillment, service delivery, or even the return process. A good experience requires seamless collaboration between marketing and sales teams, supported by capabilities through integration that allows customers to build qualified pipelines faster, automated opportunity updates to the quote creation process, and flexible pricing configurations.
The Lead to Cash process also enables new business models with the flexibility to sell physical products, service products, and subscription products in a unified way based on their own specific combinations.
Recruit to Retire
The global pandemic has dramatically changed the way everyone works and how every organization engages its workforce, including both employees and external workers. This is where Recruit to Retire comes to play. The process brings together solutions of SAP SuccessFactors, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Concur, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Analytics Cloud, and Qualtrics. It provides an E2E HR process that enables businesses to understand and optimize all aspects through the entire lifecycle, from recruiting, onboarding, learning, performance, and even offboarding. It helps to manage the workforce in line with business objectives and take care of the employee experience.
Recruit to Retire is supported by three sub-processes, as outlined here:
- Hire to Retire covers employee experience through the employment lifecycle—for example, new hiring information shared across different modules of SAP SuccessFactors from recruiting to onboarding.
- Travel to Reimburse covers travel and expense management—for example, delta posting allows paid expense reports from SAP Concur to be adjusted for audit compliance and decreasing cost.
- External Workforce provides capabilities to engage with the contingent workforce—for example, settlement receipt prevents invoice variance and faster closure of transactions in SAP Fieldglass.
Source to Pay
With economic volatility at an all-time high, customers have increased the need for procurement agility and integrated platforms more than ever before, including key priorities such as strengthening supply-chain resilience, transparency, and 360-degree visibility, centralized sourcing, persona-based guided buying, and contract management.
The Source to Pay process brings together best-of-breed SAP procurement applications (including SAP S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, SAP Concur, and SAP Fieldglass), along with SAP Business Network, on a common platform with integrated data models and UXs. The out-of-the-box real-time analytical insights and intelligence help to enhance decision-making. The process covers strategic, tactical, and operational procurement, as well as supplier management and collaboration, as outlined here:
- Supplier Management and Collaboration integrates supplier records with consistent qualification, segmentation, and supplier risk management.
- Source and Contract manages sourcing, contracting, and spend analysis processes for all types of spend—for example, direct and indirect materials and services.
- Procure to Pay provides an intuitive persona-based guided buying experience and invoice management capabilities on a single platform.
Design to Operate
The Design to Operate process can help customers run resilient and sustainable supply chains. It provides capabilities to incorporate an E2E lifecycle of a product or asset from the design phase to its operation. The scenarios bring together SAP S/4HANA, SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM), SAP Integrated Business Planning, SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud, SAP Logistics Business Network (SAP LBN), SAP Asset Intelligence Network, SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM), and other solutions to address several sub-processes such as Idea to Market, Plan to Fulfill, and Acquire to Decommission, supporting both cloud-to-cloud and hybrid integrations. These sub-processes are outlined in more detail here:
- Idea to Market covers the inception of a product idea from its definition into product design and engineering requirements.
- Plan to Fulfill covers the journey of product-related information through the stages of supply and demand planning, manufacturing, and logistics.
- Acquire to Decommission captures the entire lifetime of an industrial asset from when it is received, onboarded, operated, and maintained, until decommissioning.
Essential suite qualities are required to provide a truly integrated Intelligent Suite, across the E2E processes, with a consistent and harmonized UX. For that, SAP defined a set of common qualities, as outlined here:
- Seamless User Experience supports a harmonized look and feel and navigation patterns based on Fiori experience and design principles.
- Consistent Security and Identity Management simplifies identity provisioning authentication and access management.
- Aligned Domain Models aligns business objects across applications, simplifies master data integration and reusability, and enables aligned APIs and business events.
- Embedded and Cross-Product Analytics integrates data across multiple products to provide a holistic view and gain new insights.
- Coordinated Lifecycle Management harmonizes tenant provisioning, configuration, and operations.
- End-to-End Process Blueprints provides reference architectures that can be implemented and extended based on customer requirements.
- One Workflow Inbox centralizes and simplifies workflow task management.
RISE with SAP
We cannot talk about Intelligent Enterprise without talking about RISE with SAP, the latest business transformation as a service (BTaaS) offering from SAP. For many businesses, the transition will be a journey that is specific to their own experience. RISE with SAP includes one bundle of products and services that help businesses start their journey at their own pace and on their own terms. First, the offering includes the market-leading SAP S/4HANA Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP), SAP BTP as the technological foundation platform, and SAP Business Network with access to over 5 million connected businesses in the network.
RISE with SAP helps companies to accelerate their journey and transition to Intelligent Enterprise.
We have now learned about Intelligent Enterprise and SAP’s offerings for businesses to become intelligent enterprises through digital transformations. Through this chapter, we have learned about Intelligent Suite and Industry Cloud, Business Network, Sustainability Management, XM, and integration that comprise integrated business processes that span across multiple solutions and suite qualities to ensure consistent UXs.
In the next chapter, we will discuss the role of SAP BTP as the platform for Intelligent Enterprise and its core capabilities.