New and evolving technologies are disrupting business models across entire industries and affecting small and large organizations alike. For these disruptive technologies to have a lasting, positive impact, technology providers must offer solutions that are easily accessible, insight-driven, and flexible — a call to action that SAP has already begun to answer by delivering to its customers a host of self-service, subscription-based cloud products.
The Evolution to On-Demand SAP Solutions
For many years, adopting the latest technologies required a significant time investment, and the ability to scale or differentiate solutions to address problems in real time remained elusive. The path to install any type of application or platform involved calls with a sales representative, followed by time spent waiting for someone to install the technology on premise — only to have to repeat the process when the service needed an update, years or even just months later.
To compound this challenge, the on-demand nature of consumption that has infiltrated consumers’ lives has increasingly begun to influence and redefine the enterprise software market, and will continue to do so moving forward. Recognizing this reality, SAP developed targeted solutions (available in a cloud-based model via the SAP Store1) that are scalable and accessible enough to meet businesses’ evolving needs across internal business segments and vertical markets. Now, with a literal click of a button, SAP customers can purchase and run the solutions they need to thrive and advance in today’s ever-changing world.
As an example of how these solutions come to life, let’s focus on three of SAP’s most popular cloud products: SAP Cloud for Real Estate,2 SAP RealSpend,3 and SAP Financial Statement Insights.4 Each of these solutions can be purchased on the SAP Store and have been purpose-built to accommodate the modern business users’ needs to access personalized data and solutions instantly.
Digital Property Management with SAP Cloud for Real Estate
The corporate real-estate sector has slowly begun to undertake digital transformations to move a traditionally paper-based system of property management to a digital model. But, like many lines of business, real-estate managers are working to find the balance between innovating for the future and maintaining for the present. Digitally transforming how corporate real estate is managed may be a necessity, but many companies are defaulting to manual systems for fear that a technology upgrade is too much of a resource investment — both in time and money.
Enter SAP Cloud for Real Estate — the only strategic integrated workplace management system (IWMS) for real estate. It fully integrates with SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA to provide real-time insights into building operations across all industries. Geared toward Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and corporate real-estate managers, the solution centralizes key information for multiple property holdings into one condensed, comprehensible dashboard — allowing executives and those who support them quick access to the information that matters most, anywhere and anytime. SAP Cloud for Real Estate provides streamlined, real-time visibility into key building operations metrics, and the application ensures that leasers and lessees remain compliant with International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 16, while optimizing operations and saving money.
For the typical CFO, the only cost item more expensive on the balance sheet than real estate is personnel. If the working environment is not one that optimizes employees’ wellness and productivity, it can have profound effects on the organization’s earnings and bottom line. Consistent insight into how a location is running — from resource utilization, cost drivers, and occupancy insights to supporting new working environments — allows CFOs to optimize their locations to meet workers’ needs. When organizations’ buildings are running at their best, so are their employees.
To continue to thrive as an industry, real estate must be considered a flexible resource, and therefore be largely data-driven. Moving forward, the goal will be to elevate collected data through technology breakthroughs: imagine blockchain technology being integrated into the solution so that smaller parts of larger real-estate ecosystems can be stored and shared separately with select stakeholders. Or imagine the whole lifecycle of a property — from planning and construction to digitization — being brought to life with digital twinning. When the time comes for these advancements, there will be no delay nor impact on existing data within customer platforms; the enhancements will simply be introduced into the solution in real time via the cloud. (See Figure 1.)
Synthesized Actionable Data with SAP RealSpend
Today’s financial environment has become increasingly flexible; as such, the technology that supports day-to-day operations must be flexible, too. Trying to extract real-time, actionable ideas from outdated data and reports constantly puts financial managers in a position of catch-up, as opposed to focusing on delivering forward-thinking insights. Access to up-to-the-minute budget and spending information is no longer a nice-to-have, but a requirement for today’s leading businesses.
With this in mind, SAP RealSpend — a cloud-based application that pulls data from core financial reporting systems — was developed to enable line managers to perform ad-hoc spend analyses and other “on-the-fly” calculations. As an aggregator of key budget and spend information, including all cost center, account, profit center, and internal order hierarchies, the solution is truly company-agnostic — appropriate for small and medium businesses to large enterprises.
SAP RealSpend is much more than a data collector, however. In fact, its true value lies in its ability to synthesize information into action items quickly and precisely. What is the instant and long-term impact of a new hire? How much money has been spent this year, and how much is left remaining? Do I need to shift requested expenses to the next year? These are the types of questions that SAP RealSpend can answer, resulting in almost no budget overruns and more accurate reporting to executive leadership.
With the potential for the solution to be elevated through machine learning, it is likely that the SAP RealSpend application will continue to evolve and improve for customers — all in real time, of course.
Instant, Accurate Analyses with SAP Financial Statement Insights
Developing profit and loss (P&L) statements is a dreaded routine task for controllers and management accountants across all businesses. But while turning out a consolidated report may be a standard task, illuminating the underlying trend within such statements to drive strategic decision making — to be able to say not only “Here’s where we stand” but “Here’s what this means” — can require significant investment.
Long gone are the days when accountants had to sift through statement after statement to transfer P&L information from a system into a data mold and decipher what something “could mean” for the company. Instead, the SAP Financial Statement Insights application runs directly on top of data stored within a company’s universal journal (as found within SAP S/4HANA Finance5). This capability allows the solution to immediately consume pre-existing information within the SAP S/4HANA platform for instant, accurate insights. These business drivers can then be put into place without delay, making budget planning smarter and more strategic moving forward.
Imagine, for example, that a business is looking to launch a new product. Typically, the business would focus on the types and/or categories of the product being put into the market; the evolution of the product post-launch would then be almost exclusively dictated by its quarter-over-quarter performance within said categories. With the advent of SAP Financial Statement Insights, there is still visibility into dips and sales across quarters and product categories, combined with an added layer of what’s causing these fluctuations and how they may be circumvented in the future. This information is then captured within a highly visual, easily manipulated interface that can be shared with anyone within the business, including those outside of a traditional strategic planning and analysis role.
Despite the breadth and depth of the solution, it’s painless to access. After subscribing to SAP Financial Statement Insights, users can immediately analyze the pre-existing data within the SAP S/4HANA system. And even when improvements are rolled into the tool — such as the integration of intelligent enterprise management functionalities that perform data analyses from different points of view and select those most relevant by customer, region, and sales channel — there won’t be any disruptions to company information.
The On-Demand Wave Continues
As seen throughout different business divisions and across various industries, 2018 will continue to ride the wave of on demand, in real time — with self-service enterprise-grade software becoming the norm across entities. It’s all part of the consumerization of the digital enterprise.
As showcased at upcoming SAPinsider events such as Financials 2018 and BI & HANA 2018, specific, easy-access tools like SAP Cloud for Real Estate, SAP RealSpend, and SAP Financial Statement Insights are enabling businesses to work smarter, not harder — bringing financial and employee value to each aspect of our customers’ businesses in the new year and beyond.