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Accelerate Your Digital Transformation With Packaged Business Services

Meinolf Kaimann

From industry publications to TED Talks, it seems that people everywhere are talking about digitalization as the next big thing. Here’s a little secret, though: Digitalization isn’t coming. It’s already here.

Disruptive technological advances are shaking up businesses and markets. Although you may be expecting to do battle with your traditional competition, digitalization is making it easier for previously unseen challengers to sneak up and steal your market share. Just ask the competitors to Netflix, Airbnb, and Uber.

To avoid this fate, companies need to embrace new strategies that will help them speed their digital transformation. Meeting this goal requires partnerships with service providers that will support a laser focus on business outcomes while realizing quick wins that will help transform your enterprise. Skilled partners can help their clients save money, freeing up funds to allow companies to adopt additional innovation and unleash new business value. It’s a proven formula for maximum value, minimum risk, and rapid success.

Not all service providers are created equal

How can you choose the right service provider? Look for organizations offering services that act as accelerators, such as industrialized services, to deliver value faster. Most providers use product development as a starting point and adjust their services and processes to meet customer needs. Instead, select services that begin with best practices and proven processes that are designed for your specific industry. In other words, the center of the effort should always be your success, not the vendor’s convenience.

Predefined service packages that are based on best practices, methodologies, and tools can help you jump-start your digital transformation. When structured this way, these service packages also enable providers to systematize on service content and quality. This standardization is likely to provide consistent, positive business outcomes no matter which consultant is assigned to your initiative.

You should be able to tailor these reusable, renewable service packages to your organizational structures and preferred delivery methods. More important, each service offering should have a clear, outcome-driven scope, address the different phases of your transformation, and be delivered quickly and cost-effectively.

Industry expertise and benchmarks reveal progress

Most organizations can also benefit from a model company approach that defines the majority of processes for each industry or line of business. By combining best practices with integrated end-to-end processes, a model company approach not only acts as an accelerator, but also frees consultants to focus on any missing pieces identified during a fit-gap analysis. The expertise gathered from other customer implementation experiences helps your provider implement the latest innovations while sharply reducing implementation complexity, time, and cost.

Finally, keep in mind that it can be highly advantageous to include your software vendor in the search for services that accelerate digital transformation. Involving the vendor early in internal innovation initiatives can help you identify, prioritize, and refine ideas. With extensive knowledge of current industry best practices and familiarity with other deployments, the vendor can offer insight and recommendations that help pave the way for a successful transformation.

A software provider that supports your solution well beyond implementation is highly motivated to help your deployment succeed throughout the life of the software. This ongoing engagement provides the vendor with the opportunity – and privilege – to guide you through current and future transformations.

The importance of this customer vote of confidence cannot be overstated. Unlike a system integrator that considers your digital transformation a limited-term “project,” a software vendor views your success as a reflection on the value of the solutions and services delivered. What’s more, your software vendor can also help measure, assess, and analyze your outcomes compared with other customers, offering insight you can use to benchmark your true digital transformation progress.

Learn more about how SAP Digital Business Services can help you accelerate business opportunities through digital transformation and reduce capital expenditures, risk, and total cost of ownership.

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Meinolf Kaimann

About Meinolf Kaimann

Meinolf Kaimann is vice president, global head value assurance and premium engagements product management at SAP. You can follow him on LinkedIn.

Five Ways To Avoid ERP Project Failure

Julien Delvat

“To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer,” said Paul R. Ehrlich. Gartner adapted the saying to the enterprise in its “Predicts 2016” report: “through 2018, 90% of organizations will lack a postmodern application integration strategy and execution ability, resulting in integration disorder, greater complexity, and cost.” To put it bluntly, many ERP projects are doomed to fail!

The research and advisory group still offers hope for companies that adopt postmodern ERP: “This new environment promises more business agility, but only if the increased complexity is recognized and addressed.”

We have seen our fair share of complex and challenging projects that have “gone south.” Turning them around and putting them back on the right track is frequently the reason we’re called in. I’d like to share with you some of the lessons we’ve learned to help you avoid the predicted IT armageddon.

First we’ll look at what postmodern ERPs are. Then, we’ll see what can be done during implementation to mitigate the risk of an upcoming catastrophe. Last, I’ll show how the right partner can help your organization avoid a doomsday disaster.

Postmodern ERPs

Gartner defines the postmodern ERP as: “a technology strategy that automates and links administrative and operational business capabilities (such as finance, HR, purchasing, manufacturing, and distribution) with appropriate levels of integration that balance the benefits of vendor-delivered integration against business flexibility and agility.”

What strikes me as interesting in this definition is what they’ve missed from it: the deployment options – on-premises or cloud? These considerations are detailed in Gartner’s HOOF Model:

Postmodern ERPs HOOF Model. Source: Gartner

Take a moment to look through this and evaluate where your organization currently sits and where it is heading. With that in mind, let’s look at how to increase the chances for your journey to be successful.

Siloed applications

As described above, one of the keys to postmodern ERPs is the integration of applications provided by diverse vendors, moving away from “monolith mega-suites.” By contrast, best-of-breed applications have a tendency to support integration only with their own tools. For instance, some cloud applications deliver a long list of interfaces (APIs) to interact with their solution, but are limited to read-only interactions. This means that the application will most likely not be able to be integrated into new automated business processes.

In order to help break your corporate silos, you need to avoid recreating them with software. This requires a shift in the mindset from “module” software (CRM, finance, procurement), to a process platform focusing on end-to-end business scenarios.

For instance:

  • Replace “CRM” with “Order to Cash” or “Quote to Cash” processing
  • Replace “Procurement” with “Procure to Pay”
  • Replace “Asset Management” with “Acquire to Retire”
  • Replace “CAD” with “Idea to Offering”
  • Replace “Analytics” with “Record-to-Report”

This will ensure a seamless experience for the end users and simplify your application landscape.

Incomplete scope

The cloud ERP landscape is still heterogeneous. A large number of solutions grew from a specialized scope and expanded into the ERP domain, or from small target customers to larger ones. However, unless a large scope is covered, including Gartner’s main topics – finance, HR, purchasing, and distribution – then integration is increasingly complex and hard to maintain.

As an example, if a professional services company uses an accounting software as its main system of record and combines it with a time and expenses package as well as a payroll solution, some key architecture decisions need to be considered:

  • Where should employee master data be maintained?
  • How should you handle errors and corrections of time entries?
  • How should workflows and approvals be handled?

Without an out-of-the-box integration, these simple questions could easily give nightmares to the most seasoned IT teams.

Cloud washing

Software vendors are now expected to have a cloud option. However, some took shortcuts by simply hosting their solutions, providing remote access, and changing their licenses to a subscription model.

This “cloud washing” is far from the postmodern ERP definition we saw earlier. Robust solutions should offer:

  • Browser-based solutions (no download)
  • Similar user experience across different devices (with responsive design for smaller screens)
  • Multi-tenant or elastic options for improved total cost of ownership (TCO)

Postmodern ERPs should have a cloud-first principle with a consistent strategy for back-end and user experience. Ensure you identify such key differentiators when selecting your solution.

Misalignment to your corporate strategy

“Good ERP is more than just good software. It involves an institutional commitment to connecting people, processes, and resources,” said James Young. We’ve seen countless software purchase decisions that made sense at the level of cost center manager or for a small business unit, but were counterproductive to the overall company-wide strategy.

On a recent project, the CIO of a large company told us, “for security and legal reasons, we have a zero-cloud policy.” However, during the subsequent roadmap analysis, we uncovered a slew of critical Web applications for CRM, human resources, and reporting, unbeknown to him.

Another mistake is to align your IT strategy with a vendor roadmap. On our last roadmap exercise for a multinational consumer products manufacturing company, our analysis concluded that there wasn’t enough value in its main software provider’s current release, and that a better strategy would be to leapfrog this release in 2016 and implement the next major release in 2017, thus reducing the impact of change and improving the chances of value realization.

Go at it alone

As the Gartner report concludes: “It really is time that the significant investments enterprises make in ERP solutions reap real benefits. ERP vendors and [software integrators) must raise their game on implementation approaches, renovating and revisiting their own implementation methodologies for speed and with greater emphasis on the benefits realization activities.”

But let’s face it: simple just ain’t easy! Despite efforts from ERP vendors to facilitate the onboarding of new teams and the standardization of the connectivity of their applications, the integration piece still needs expertise on both applications. Such skills are usually few and far between but are critical to the success of your project.

So, if your future postmodern ERP implementation project becomes scary, “if there’s something weird, And it don’t look good, Who you gonna call?”

To create a Live Business, check out this infographic to learn The Essentials of Process Digitization Excellence.

This article originally appeared in BlueFin Solutions.

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Julien Delvat

About Julien Delvat

With over 15 years’ experience of developing cost management applications at SAP Labs France, coupled with significant experience of architecting, designing and implementing these systems for clients across the globe and industries, Julien Delvat is perfectly placed to offer Bluefin’s customers unrivalled expertise in the colliding worlds of finance and technology. His contributions to the SAP Financials community have been recognized through publications in professional blogs and journals like SCN.com and SAP Expert, as well as multiple speaking and panel opportunities at conferences like SAP Financials, SAP Controlling, Sapphire / ASUG, and SAP TechEd. He is most passionate about his roles as an ASUG volunteer for the Financials community and as an SAP Mentor, working as a trusted advisor to build new communication channels between SAP and its customers.

How Digital Transformation Is Rewriting Business Models

Ginger Shimp

Everybody knows someone who has a stack of 3½-inch floppies in a desk drawer “just in case we may need them someday.” While that might be amusing, the truth is that relatively few people are confident that they’re making satisfactory progress on their digital journey. The boundaries between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur — with profound implications for the way we do business. Virtually every industry and every enterprise feels the effects of this ongoing digital transformation, whether from its own initiative or due to pressure from competitors.

What is digital transformation? It’s the wholesale reimagining and reinvention of how businesses operate, enabled by today’s advanced technology. Businesses have always changed with the times, but the confluence of technologies such as mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data analytics has accelerated the pace at which today’s businesses are evolving — and the degree to which they transform the way they innovate, operate, and serve customers.

The process of digital transformation began decades ago. Think back to how word processing fundamentally changed the way we write, or how email transformed the way we communicate. However, the scale of transformation currently underway is drastically more significant, with dramatically higher stakes. For some businesses, digital transformation is a disruptive force that leaves them playing catch-up. For others, it opens to door to unparalleled opportunities.

Upending traditional business models

To understand how the businesses that embrace digital transformation can ultimately benefit, it helps to look at the changes in business models currently in process.

Some of the more prominent examples include:

  • A focus on outcome-based models — Open the door to business value to customers as determined by the outcome or impact on the customer’s business.
  • Expansion into new industries and markets — Extend the business’ reach virtually anywhere — beyond strictly defined customer demographics, physical locations, and traditional market segments.
  • Pervasive digitization of products and services — Accelerate the way products and services are conceived, designed, and delivered with no barriers between customers and the businesses that serve them.
  • Ecosystem competition — Create a more compelling value proposition in new markets through connections with other companies to enhance the value available to the customer.
  • Access a shared economy — Realize more value from underutilized sources by extending access to other business entities and customers — with the ability to access the resources of others.
  • Realize value from digital platforms — Monetize the inherent, previously untapped value of customer relationships to improve customer experiences, collaborate more effectively with partners, and drive ongoing innovation in products and services,

In other words, the time-tested assumptions about how to identify customers, develop and market products and services, and manage organizations may no longer apply. Every aspect of business operations — from forecasting demand to sourcing materials to recruiting and training staff to balancing the books — is subject to this wave of reinvention.

The question is not if, but when

These new models aren’t predictions of what could happen. They’re already realities for innovative, fast-moving companies across the globe. In this environment, playing the role of late adopter can put a business at a serious disadvantage. Ready or not, digital transformation is coming — and it’s coming fast.

Is your company ready for this sea of change in business models? At SAP, we’ve helped thousands of organizations embrace digital transformation — and turn the threat of disruption into new opportunities for innovation and growth. We’d relish the opportunity to do the same for you. Our Digital Readiness Assessment can help you see where you are in the journey and map out the next steps you’ll need to take.

Up next I’ll discuss the impact of digital transformation on processes and work. Until then, you can read more on how digital transformation is impacting your industry.

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Ginger Shimp

About Ginger Shimp

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, Ginger Shimp has been with SAP since 2004. She has won numerous awards and honors at SAP, including being designated “Top Talent” for two consecutive years. Not only is she a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association, but she's also earned her Connoisseur's Certificate in California Reds from the Chicago Wine School. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA in marketing and managerial economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Personally, Ginger is the proud mother of a precocious son and happy wife of one of YouTube's 10 EDU Gurus, Ed Shimp.

The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers

 

The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.


Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.


A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.


Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.


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To Get Past Blockchain Hype, We Must Think Differently

Susan Galer

Blockchain hype is reaching fever pitch, making it the perfect time to separate market noise from valid signals. As part of my ongoing conversations about blockchain, I reached out to several experts to find out where companies should consider going from here. Raimund Gross, Solution Architect and Futurist at SAP, acknowledged the challenges of understanding and applying such a complex leading-edge technology as blockchain.

“The people who really get it today are those able to put the hype in perspective with what’s realistically doable in the near future, and what’s unlikely to become a reality any time soon, if ever,” Gross said. “You need to commit the resources and find the right partners to lay the groundwork for success.”

Gross told me one of the biggest problems with blockchain – besides the unproven technology itself – was the mindset shift it demands. “Many people aren’t thinking about decentralized architectures with peer-to-peer networks and mash-ups, which is what blockchain is all about. People struggle because often discussions end up with a centralized approach based on past constructs. It will take training and experience to think decentrally.”

Here are several more perspectives on blockchain beyond the screaming headlines.

How blockchain disrupts insurance, banking

Blockchain has the potential to dramatically disrupt industries because the distributed ledger embeds automatic trust across processes. This changes the role of longstanding intermediaries like insurance companies and banks, essentially restructuring business models for entire industries.

“With the distributed ledger, all of the trusted intelligence related to insuring the risk resides in the cloud, providing everyone with access to the same information,” said Nadine Hoffmann, global solution manager for Innovation at SAP Financial Services. “Payment is automatically triggered when the agreed-upon risk scenario occurs. There are limitations given regulations, but blockchain can open up new services opportunities for established insurers, fintech startups, and even consumer-to-consumer offerings.”

Banks face a similar digitalized transformation. Long built on layers of steps to mitigate risk, blockchain offers the banking industry a network of built-in trust to improve efficiencies along with the customer experience in areas such as cross-border payments, trade settlements for assets, and other contractual and payment processes. What used to take days or even months could be completed in hours.

Finance departments evolve

Another group keenly watching blockchain developments are CFOs. Just as Uber and Airbnb have disrupted transportation and hospitality, blockchain has the potential to change not only the finance department — everything from audits and customs documentation to letters of credit and trade finance – but also the entire company.

“The distributed ledger’s capabilities can automate processes in shared service centers, allowing accountants and other employees in finance to speed up record keeping including proof of payment supporting investigations,” said Georg Koester, senior developer, LoB Finance at the Innovation Center Potsdam. “This lowers costs for the company and improves the customer experience.”

Koester said that embedding blockchain capabilities in software company-wide will also have a tremendous impact on product development, lean supply chain management, and other critical areas of the company.

While financial services dominate blockchain conversations right now, Gross named utilities, healthcare, public sector, real estate, and pretty much any industry as prime candidates for blockchain disruption. “Blockchain is specific to certain business scenarios in any industry,” said Gross. “Every organization can benefit from trust and transparency that mitigates risk and optimizes processes.”

Get started today! Run Live with SAP for Banking. Blast past the hype by attending the SAP Next-Gen Boot Camp on Blockchain in Financial Services and Public Sector event being held April 26-27 in Regensdorf, Switzerland.

Follow me on Twitter, SCN Business Trends, or Facebook. Read all of my Forbes articles here.

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