Big data, cloud, mobile and social have radically changed our view on business IT. Across industries, we see companies exploring how they can incorporate these technological innovations in their current processes, and how they can then build new business models on them. To support these major business transformations, SAP launched its S/4 HANA ERP business suite. S/4 HANA, short for SAP Business Suite 4 HANA, is the company’s biggest innovation since SAP R/3. For those who are wondering how SAP came up with the name for its new ERP: Hana is a beach in Hawaii, the kind you would like to go to every weekend – and that’s exactly the message that SAP wants to get across. Things that, in the past, you could do only once in a lifetime – if you were lucky – are now just a few clicks away.
Fiori: moving towards a true user experience
The first and probably the most striking innovation in S/4 HANA is Fiori, the new role-based user interface, delivering a unified experience across devices. In fact, Fiori completely changes the way you work in SAP thanks to the Fiori launchpad: a role-based homepage with tiles that display status indicators, such as the number of open tasks. Fiori automatically pushes information to the users, and every alert allows them to drill down to more detailed levels of information in order to take appropriate action. When action is taken, just hit the ‘approve’ button and the approval is updated in real time. That’s right: there are no more ‘refresh’ buttons in Fiori.
Simplicity in its DNA
S/4 HANA is all about simplicity – in the underlying data models, in the implementation roadmaps and in the IT landscape as a whole. S/4 HANA is clearly being positioned as the digital core of the enterprise, aimed at simplifying processes, driving them in real time and making them easy to change to achieve new efficiencies. In other words: on-demand reporting and on-the-fly modifications for every single business user.
A large part of the simplicity offered by S/4 HANA results from the power of HANA, SAP’s in-memory database technology. The speed of HANA changed the rules of the data processing and data storage game, thus opening up plenty of new opportunities. Furthermore the simplified data model facilitates faster adoption and initial implementation, plus lower maintenance costs, without compromising the rich functionality of earlier versions in any way.
Unifying functionality in the core
To further simplify companies’ IT infrastructures as a whole, SAP chose to embed several applications within S/4 HANA. The impact of unifying applications such as CRM, APO and EWM – to name but a few – in one single system, supported by one single database, is huge. For one thing, implementation is expected to be faster and simpler since no interfacing is necessary, and adding new functionality is almost a matter of just switching it on. Moreover, data will be consistent because data transfers and data duplication are a thing of the past.
Another powerful feature of S/4 HANA is the embedded business intelligence (BI) that enables users to perform real-time analytics on transactional data, eliminating the need to handle transactions and analytics separately. All analytics needs are fulfilled within one solution. Insights are pushed to the user, who is then only one click away from the actions that need to be taken.
The era of connectivity
The fourth and final reason why S/4 HANA is a game changer is the way the suite opens up towards both other data systems and external devices. SAP S/4 HANA allows data to be captured and combined in the digital core, then to be analysed and utilized in simulations and forecasts, for example.
In short, S/4 HANA is a building block for the digital economy, guiding your business towards innovative business models and new value propositions for your customers. But are you ready for the future?
Author: Pieter Lootens
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