There is a misconception in the SAP market where some people assume Intelligent Enterprise as one of the SAP product. It is not the name of an SAP product or any software product for that matter. Rather, it is a term used to represent a modern enterprise that uses advanced technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to get the most out of it’s data.
If you go backwards in time, before the age of computers, business operations were manual, restricted to limited set of process steps and no room for innovation or felxibility.
When computers were introduced, they revolutionised the way organisations did business. Instead of sending checks through physical mail, online money transfers were utilised. Bulky physical ledgers were replaced by software applications. Business processes were redefined to make use of the advantages provided by computers.
Fast forward to 2020, we are in a period where technological advances are at it’s peak. Modern day consumers use mobile apps and social media to make purchases and communicate with brands. They make carldless payments and receive same day delivery.
As a result, modern enterprises must change the way they do business by redefining their business processes, otherwise, they will be left behind in the fast-changing world. They must integrate their customer support channels and CRM software with social media to serve customers better. They need all the data in realtime to make faster decisions. They must utilise technologies such as AI and predictive analytics to predict things proactively. They must use technologies like IoT to save cost and provide better support to their customers. They must use cloud technologies so that they are agile and will be able to quickly adapt change. They must provide better user experience not just to their customers but also to their employees. In simple terms, they must become an Intelligent Enterprise.
SAP Intelligent Enterprise
Now let’s take a look at SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise stratey.
As per SAP’s website “Intelligent Enterprises are integrated enterprises that use data to feed their intelligence. At SAP, we are enabling our customers to become Intelligent Enterprises by integrating data and processes, building flexible value chains, innovating with industry best practices, providing our customers with the ability to understand and act on their customer, partner, and employee sentiment, and how to manage their environmental impact — to grow more resilient, more profitable, and more sustainable”
When SAP introduced it’s version of the Intelligent Enterprise in 2018, it’s framework looked like the below picture.
There are three main components involved in the above framework. They are
- Intelligent Suite: It basically contains the suite of products that are required by an organisation to run their core business processes. In the centre is the ERP digital core which could be either S/4HANA on-premise or cloud version. Supported by Customer Experience (C4HANA), Manufacturing & Supply Chain (IBP, Ariba, EAM), People Engagement (SuccessFactors & FieldGlass), Network & Spend Management (Ariba & Concur).
- Digital Platform: The Digital Platform provides a bunch of applications that enable the collection, connection, and orchestration of data (SAC, MDM and DWC) as well as the integration and extension of data-rich processes in integrated applications (SCP).
- Intelligent Technologies: Intelligent technologies such as ML, AI, IoT and Analytics help organisation to use company wide data to detect patterns, predict outcomes, suggest actions and trigger process execution.
In 2020, SAP has updated its Intelligent Enterprise framework and it looks like the below picture.
The latest Intelligent Enterprise framework consists of components such as Business Process, Applications, Technology and Infrastructure. SAP believes, holistic integration approach goes far beyond just technical integration of applications. Integrating both technology and business processes to deliver significant value to businesses is what will help organisations become an Intelligent Enterprise.
Let’s take a deeper look at each one of these components.
- Business Process: This includes Business Network and Business Process Intelligence. Business Network is a cloud-based solution that helps organisations to connect all their trading partners into a single directory. It also helps them streamline their supply chain operations. It consists of applications such as Ariba Network, SAP Logistics Business Network and SAP Asset Intelligence Network.
Whereas Business Process Intelligence solutions enable organisations to analyse the performance of their business processes and then turn the process insights into actions to help drive digital transformation. It includes components such as Analyze, Design & Simulate, Improve, Rollout & Govern, Monitor, Model & Manage and Benchmark. SAP’s recent acquisition, Signavio, is part of the Business Process Intelligence solution.
- Applications: This includes SAP applications such as the Intelligent Suite and Industry Cloud. Intelligent Suite further consists of SAP solutions such as Customer Experience, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, The Digital Core, People Engagement, Network & Spend Management. Industry Cloud consists of vertical solutions from both SAP and Partners that can be utilised by organisations to make use of industry best practises and extend their current business processes.
- Business Technology Platform: It is made up of a holistic of SAP solutions such as Database & Data Management, Analytics, Application Development & Integration and Intelligent Technologies.
It provides organisations with a platform through which they can build, manage, deploy and connect data and business processes on one integrated platform.
- Infrastructure: Customers has the option to host their applications either on SAP Data Centre or one of the Hyperscalers such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. It helps them to be more agile and also reduce Total Cost of ownership (TCO).
So all these solutions combinedly helps organisations to modernise their business and become an Intelligent Enterprise.