Insight To Action: Top 5 Best Practices Of Best-In-Class Digitalists, Part 5

Alexander Greb

Part 5  of the “Top 5 Best Practices” series exploring the mindset and methods leading to a successful journey to the digital enterprise 

When you ask five different people about the benefits of an intelligent ERP solution, it is quite possible that you will get at least six different answers. A finance pro will tell you about the joys of a soft close, a logistics expert will relate to the co-deployment possibilities of the detailed scheduling functionalities, and over in marketing, you’ll hear about the power of experience data.

This shows the wide variety in which an intelligent ERP solution can benefit you and your enterprise, but it may be quite annoying when looking for that ONE “elevator-pitch” benefit because those points are all parts of what the digital core is all about.

If you ask me to choose one dominating benefit, it would be “insight to action.” When you have a forward-looking mindset and treat the digital core as a business topic (not an IT topic), you will find yourself at a good starting point to embrace the activities that will make yours an intelligent enterprise. That not only puts you in a great position to fight off any disruptive industry transformation but can get you out of this defensive situation and disrupt the industry itself. The central ability necessary to accomplish that is “insight to action.” What does this mean?


To illustrate my point, I want to divide the above benefits into parts and start with “insight.” A certain kind of insight itself is not really new, of course. I remember myself 15 years ago, as a young business consultant beginning my career in a high-profile SCM consultancy company, providing a lot of insight to my customers. I did this by doing a lot of data-crunching in Excel to tell the customer where to establish buffers at which amount in the supply chain based on demand, orders, and lead times. That’s already some insight.

But why do I slash this activity? Were the results not correct? No, they were right, but only at that moment! By using static data extracted from several systems, my colleagues and I took a snapshot of reality that then became a source for midterm planning. But the situation of demands and orders that led to these recommendations could look completely different just one or two days later after the snapshot was taken.

So the value of using a static data snapshot within a dynamic environment is quite limited, but that was (and in many cases still is) the state of the art. By relying on aggregates and precalculated KPIs in your database, you are working in a foggy environment that will definitely limit your ability not only to react to unforeseen events but make it even difficult to realize them.

The unified data model in the digital core enables the “single source of truth” to calculate KPIs on the fly by not using aggregates with undetermined timestamps but instead taking actual line items. By doing this, the digital core enables you to see your KPIs “as they are” – right now and precise. And this is just the baseline; the possibilities of advanced analytics can produce even more benefits.


“ … into action” is not possible if you have a missing link between your analytics system and your transactional system. Whenever you are forced to leave your analytical basis, you lose context and orientation. Furthermore, any automation, decision support, or artificial intelligence is unable to give you a hand since you have a media break between these two disciplines, and your transactional support is unable to connect.

My point is that insight without action is no real help, or to be more precise: Insight must always have consequences in the routine operations that are guided and managed automatically by your enterprise management system. This guarantees that you not only become aware of critical situations but can also counteract them in the best effective way or, in a less critical situation, can fulfill your goals and KPIs with maximum precision and efficiency.

With the unified data model of a digital core, we have opened the door to new possibilities by joining these elements with modern GUI technologies and advanced automation and AI. This capability establishes real decision support that not only accelerates processes but can also provide a completely new quality to results.

All hierarchy levels are profiting from these new possibilities. Not only can C-level management use the insight-to-action possibilities via its digital boardroom; the operative levels can use these decision-support abilities and consumable innovation to elevate their work to a whole new level.

These examples are just a cutout of the vast possibilities that the digital core gives you to turn insight into action.

Go back and read all the posts in the “Top 5 Best Practices” series to explore the mindset and methods leading to a successful journey to the digital enterprise.

Alexander Greb

About Alexander Greb

Alexander Greb is customer advisory lead for ERP strategy in the Middle and Eastern European region at SAP and founder and host of the "SAP Experts Podcast," a leading global technology podcast. He has more than 15 years of processes and technology experience, serving as a consultant, program lead, and presales representative at various leading companies. Alexander is an expert in pitching and explaining the value of SAP S/4HANA and the concept of "Intelligent Enterprise" to SAP customers and partners in workshop and major events and conferences. As a passionate thought leader on sales strategies and methodologies, he not only shares his insights on his podcast, but also here on the Digitalist Magazine. Follow Alexander on LinkedIn.