The Cloud Imperative: The Foundation Of A Truly Intelligent Enterprise

Sven Denecken

In 1963, the American psychologist and computer scientist J. C. R. Licklider wrote a series of forward-thinking, perhaps even visionary, memos that he addressed to the “Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network.”

Just over half a century later, his foresight sits at the center of a global transformation as organizations strive to become truly intelligent. This transformation is both driven and underpinned by cloud computing technology – itself arguably representing a further iteration of Licklider’s early theories.

Simply put, cloud computing makes it possible for users to access data, applications, and services over the Internet and ultimately provides the foundation for the intelligent enterprise that is ready for tomorrow’s world.

The cloud eliminates the need for costly hardware, such as hard drives and servers, and enables users to work from anywhere. As such, cloud software offers several distinct advantages that help sharpen a company’s competitive edge: It speeds up processes, makes them easier, and above all smarter – all aimed at realizing a company’s intelligent enterprise.

Value in the market

Forrester predicts that by the year 2020, the global public cloud market will have risen to a value of $236 billion.

IDC, meanwhile, has tracked significant growth in the adoption of ERP solutions hosted in a public cloud – suggesting that businesses are beginning to wake up to the value of cloud solutions. This is not surprising given the vast benefits and features public cloud delivers – from infrastructure scalability and setup through to cost savings.

Indeed, pretty much every new IT innovation of the past few years has its roots in cloud computing – including artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital assistants, conversational capabilities, and predictive analytics. All these innovations aim at a singular goal – to make software, and the organizations that use it, intelligent.

This is all great! So why are there businesses that have yet to make the shift towards the cloud?

Businesses and IT lagging behind

This isn’t to say that organizations have ignored the cloud. Indeed, quite a few have made the migration. However, some companies have simply not yet dared to fully commit to the cloud, thereby denying themselves the benefits it brings to their respective organizations and, crucially, the opportunity to become a truly intelligent enterprise.

Instead, they have started their cloud journey slowly and carefully to fit with their respective business models and avoid disruption. This means they are either moving only select applications to the public cloud but persevering with legacy technology for others (a two-tier approach), or switching to a deployment scenario hosted in a private cloud.

In today’s market, a number of factors are pushing companies to adopt one of these two scenarios rather than the “ultimate” public cloud.

Nonetheless, cloud solutions, by their very nature, are designed to alleviate the concerns that might accompany such a change of platform and approach for an IT department as it transforms the organization to become an intelligent enterprise.

So, the question remains: Why do we still see a reluctance to switch?

The risk of stasis

My feeling is that if organizations recognized the risk of not moving to cloud, then more businesses would prioritize the shift. Today’s digitalization of the marketplace is only increasing the speed at which companies need to be able to move and adapt.

This is the point where companies realize they need a cloud ERP solution that in fact makes the journey towards digital for them to – taking over their tasks by automating and streamlining them, as well as by leveraging intelligent next-generation business processes. They suddenly see the need for a system that is proactive and has the capabilities, ultimately, to sneak around the corner and suggest to end users what to do next. It also pushes organizations towards implementing a system that the user can converse with using natural language, as if talking to a colleague.

Failing to implement intelligent systems like these will either see organizations outpaced, or overtaken by agile competitors (or swallowed whole) as customers vote with their feet – and their wallets. It’s as simple as that. Cloud is no longer a “nice to have” – it’s absolutely essential, and it sits at the foundation of any truly intelligent enterprise.

One size won’t always fit all

But with that said, the process of shifting to the cloud will be different for many businesses, and each organization should be enabled to take each step at its own pace. That may be via a private or full public environment, or by deploying a two-tier scenario in the first place.

Getting it wrong carries its own set of risks – from mishandled security processes to loss of employee engagement. Even the loss of leadership and market-readiness are not exempt.

With our cloud ERP solution portfolio, we take a collaborative approach with our customers. We look closely at their needs and work with them to map out a cloud strategy that matches their priorities when it comes to keeping the business running and growing as they evolve into a truly intelligent business.

Following your intuition

Ultimately, I like to think about this process in relation to the terms that J. C. R. Licklider laid down all those years ago.

His ideas, he said, were things that he could feel intuitively. In the cloud, such an approach is proving vital to keeping the world turning, in its own intuitive way, into the future.

Just as Dr. Licklider’s ideas formed the foundation for the future of computer science, the cloud is now the very basis of the intelligent enterprise. In line with this, the intelligent enterprise – the ways to realize it, what it requires, as well as its benefits for making business in today’s digital market – will be the focus of discussion June 5 to 7 at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG conference in Orlando, FL.

Register now for SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 and meet us in Orlando to find out exactly how SAP’s cloud ERP solutions are made to turn tomorrow’s vision of a connected and intelligent business into a reality.

Looking forward to meet there as I am interested in your view, and feel free to follow me via@SDenecken.

This article originally appeared on SAP Community.

Sven Denecken

About Sven Denecken

Sven Denecken is Senior Vice President, Product Management and Co-Innovation of SAP S/4HANA, at SAP. His experience working with customers and partners for decades and networking with the SAP field organization and industry analysts allows him to bring client issues and challenges directly into the solution development process, ensuring that next-generation software solutions address customer requirements to focus on business outcome and help customers gain competitive advantage. Connect with Sven on Twitter @SDenecken or e-mail at