Digital Transformation: 5 Insights To Get From Here To There

Michael Longden

If you’ve yet to make the systems conversion from old school ERP to harness digital transformation, then you’re increasingly becoming part of the minority. There was a time when simply adding a new front end or tweaking legacy systems was good enough to keep you in the game. Those days are long gone.

The world around us, including that of your competitors, is moving on. And fast. Cloud, mobile, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and social networks are widening the gap between you and the digital economy. Failure to modernize those back-end systems is unsustainable in the longer term. Eventually, the lack of digital agility will disenfranchise the business.

Most people I speak with understand the inevitability of making the digital transformation journey. But many simply don’t know where (or how) to start. Others believe their existing IT landscape is so old or complex and daunting, that it will be too disruptive. I’d like to address these misconceptions, and tell you how easy it actually is.

Below are five considerations I’d urge you to review so you can embark on your digital transformation journey.

  1. Simplification before innovation – Everyone likes to focus on innovation, but simplification is an important and often overlooked first step. Consider a cleanup of your systems and look at obvious places to simplify before you start.
  1. Go compare yourself – It’s well worth taking advantage of SAP’s IDC digital value chain maturity self-assessment to help you benchmark your organization’s digital performance, including how you compare to peers in your industry. This will give you both perspective and context.
  1. You are here – Start from wherever makes the most sense for you. Some organizations choose to start at the bottom of their ERP pillar, while others start at the top. The important thing is to match your own starting point, pace, and back-end landscape based on your vision, objectives, competitive considerations, and legislative or industry drivers.
  1. Know your outcomes – Consider what you are trying to achieve. Whatever that is, the good news is that it’s much easier than you think (not to mention non-disruptive) thanks to best practice templates, tasks, and preconfigured offerings.
  1. Try it on – To make things even easier, there’s a fully configured trial system available at your fingertips with a variety of tools to migrate and test data before going live.

The word transformation is thrown around loosely in IT, but in this case, the seismic difference in functionality, capabilities, and results is huge.

Let me give you an example. I spoke recently with an automotive customer that faced challenges in accelerating its materials planning requirements (MRPs). It relied on a list for planning requirements, as this is all its legacy systems could manage, and had no means of gathering real-time performance data. It can now plan 300 million independent requirements, 100 hundred-day truck scenarios for 50,000 trucks, and 1.5 million materials across 10 different levels – with the MRP completed in just an hour, which runs after-hours in the evening. Such a scenario could never have been executed before its system conversion. It has quite literally has transformed the business overnight.

With systems conversion so easy, doing nothing is getting harder to justify.  There’s simply no need to stay restricted by the limitations of the past. By embarking on your digital transformation journey, you can support the business, optimize existing operations for greater efficiencies, and accelerate IT performance. It’s time to get acquainted with your 21st century IT landscape and try it on for size.

Take a first step and find out more about migrating to S/4HANA.


Michael Longden

About Michael Longden

Michael Longden is vice president of the EMEA Center of Excellence for SAP HANA at SAP responsible for Sales Enablement, Demand Generation and Best Practice sharing.