Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Every business’s journey to becoming a digital enterprise will vary based on the company’s size, industry, region, and market dynamics. Along this journey, the SAP S/4HANA digital core is a fundamental component — but it is not the only one. Depending on the situation, each customer may use different solutions within SAP’s cloud application portfolio or need seamless integration with third-party offerings. In some instances, a company might even have to build new cloud, mobile, or on-premise applications that connect with its digital core to satisfy its specific needs.
To drive repeatable, scalable digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA, customers can use SAP HANA Cloud Platform, an open platform-as-a-service, to integrate their digital core with other on-premise and cloud applications, extend existing standard SAP applications, and build new high-touch, customer-facing applications that connect seamlessly to SAP S/4HANA. By extending SAP S/4HANA based on their business needs, companies can, for example, gain competitive advantage as a result of improved customer service and experience better cost and asset management through reduced capital investment based on enhanced supply chain management.
In this article, we share examples and use cases of the prepackaged integrations that customers can leverage to connect to third-party social channels and SAP’s cloud solutions, as well as new applications that they can build on top of SAP S/4HANA with SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
Integrating SAP S/4HANA with Social Media and SAP Cloud Solutions
One way to extend SAP S/4HANA is to integrate it with the solutions that companies use every day. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Integration with Social Media and SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer
To win the business of empowered and connected customers, companies should look at sentiment analysis to help them identify ways to improve their operations and their products. A company that just launched a new product may want to understand how the product is perceived in the market, or an organization can leverage insights gleaned from social media to create targeted campaigns to promote its offerings.
Consider a t-shirt manufacturer that is creating new Star Wars-themed shirts. To target potential customers who may be interested in its product, the company can turn to social media to see chatter related to science fiction generally or Star Wars specifically. With the cloud integration service of SAP HANA Cloud Platform, the company can leverage prepackaged integrations to pull data from third-party channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google AdWords directly into SAP S/4HANA (see Figure 1). Armed with this data, the company can then create specific marketing campaigns for the Star Wars shirts targeting the people who expressed an interest in that genre.
The manufacturer can take this scenario a step further by integrating SAP S/4HANA with SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer. Leveraging SAP HANA Cloud Platform, the company can replicate leads and opportunities from SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer and store them centrally in SAP S/4HANA, and can see if the leads pulled in from social channels are already in its system. The ability to have real-time visibility into customer — and prospective customer — data and be able to share insights in real time seamlessly across the enterprise is critical.
Prebuilt Integration with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central
To maintain accurate financial costing and profitability analysis, companies must maintain centralized financial information. To help achieve this, businesses deploying SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central can now leverage prepackaged integration built using the cloud integration service of SAP HANA Cloud Platform to maintain a single version of the truth. Cost centers maintained in SAP S/4HANA Finance are integrated with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central; this cost center integration also enables cost distribution.
With this integration, a company can pull master data from SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central into SAP S/4HANA to consolidate employee data, such as payroll information. Consider an employee who submits a travel expense report. That information needs to be pulled into SAP S/4HANA (via the out-of-the-box integration) for the reimbursement process to be performed.
Customers can browse the prepackaged integration content offered by SAP at https://cloudintegration.hana.ondemand.com/#shell/catalog.
Building New SAP S/4HANA-Enabled Applications
In addition to benefiting from integration with existing solutions, companies can develop new applications with SAP HANA Cloud Platform to further extend their SAP S/4HANA core.
Low-Touch, Back-End Integration Applications
An enterprise can leverage SAP HANA Cloud Platform to build an integration front-end layer that connects SAP S/4HANA with disparate ERP systems or third-party solutions on the back end and presents the consolidated information to its customers. The integration can help increase customer satisfaction while also giving the business visibility across the enterprise.
For example, consider a large conglomerate that went through multiple mergers and acquisitions and now owns and sells multiple brands and product groups, with each product line rooted in a different ERP system. These disparate systems were not connected, so the company was unable to provide a seamless experience for its customers. When customers requested items from different product groups, they would receive separate quotes and invoices, rather than a single consolidated one. In addition, the company could not achieve a unified view of its customers and their buying behavior because the relevant data resided in different systems.
With SAP HANA Cloud Platform, this company was able to unify its systems. It quickly built an application that sits on top of, and pulls information from, the disparate systems to present one unified view to the customer. So a customer buying from various product groups would now receive one proposal and one invoice, enhancing the customer’s interaction and satisfaction with the company. On the back end, this unified interface enables the company to have a more complete view of customers’ purchasing behavior. The ability to share customer data such as credit history and open purchase orders across the different product groups can be critical in maintaining customer loyalty and opening new cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
In addition, many supply chain management processes can be accelerated using business networks and the sophisticated capabilities of SAP S/4HANA. As another example, consider a supply chain management scenario. To manage costs, a company is looking to reduce the number of goods it has in stock. It needs real-time insights into its supply chain processes, such as how often or how quickly certain goods are delivered and where bottlenecks slow down the delivery process. It can leverage SAP S/4HANA to gain this insight, but may need additional information from other sources to get a complete picture of its supply chain. The company can use SAP HANA Cloud Platform to gather data from its delivery trucks or from mobile devices at quality inspections during a previous step in the delivery chain, for example.
High-Touch, Customer-Facing Applications
With SAP HANA Cloud Platform, companies can build high-touch, customer-facing applications to create a unique experience for their customers. For example, a retailer can use SAP HANA Cloud Platform to create a customer loyalty mobile app that has back-end connectivity to SAP S/4HANA. The mobile app can use GPS data from smartphones to detect customers who are walking into the retailer’s store, and the retailer can then push promotions specific to that particular store to those customers. Leveraging a set of back-end data residing in SAP S/4HANA, the app can provide tailored promotions based on a customer’s previous buying behavior. The app can also show the customer which products are available in that store location based on SAP S/4HANA inventory and warehouse information. The mobile application also can share customer information, such as purchase history, with store employees so they can better serve the customer in a more personalized way. The result is a tailored, customized experience — and ultimately, happier consumers.
With SAP HANA Cloud Platform, companies can quickly and easily extend their existing applications or build new cloud solutions. For more information on extending the SAP S/4HANA digital core with SAP HANA Cloud Platform, visit sap.com/s4hana and https://hcp.sap.com/index.html.