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Sapphire Blog: Building Business Value with SAP S/4HANA

Every business that wants to succeed in the 21st century needs to have a solid digital core. So I was fascinated by the gathering of different industry executives at the session dedicated to building business value with SAP S/4HANA at this week's Sapphire Now conference. Kiran Gole, Principal - Business Services Information Systems - SAP Practice, Infosys, was joined by technology leaders from SAP, New York Life Insurance Co., Karma Automotive, and CEITEC (a Brazilian-sponsored technology company), all of whom talked about how they re-imagined their business models and improved consumer engagement by leveraging a new, digital core.

You must be wondering: How do you re-imagine your company's position in an industry as traditional as the automotive arena?  Well, automakers deal with suppliers. Lots of them. The largest, Tier 1 suppliers, can practically build cars themselves. If your auto business can operate in real-time with other suppliers and the manufacturers themselves, then you are at a tremendous advantage. One of the panelists, Ketan Gohil of Karma Automotive, said the company went through ups and downs in years past but in 2014 taken over and renamed Karma. But then something even bigger happened: the company's digital transformation. "We wanted to make a robust and scalable finance platform, but also make it simple," Mr. Gohil said about adopting the S/4HANA business platform.

It's been exactly one year since SAP unveiled S/4HANA. A company spokesman said that there are now more than 180 customers running the robust finance platform. Kiran Gole of Infosys told the standing room-only crowd that every five or six years Infosys goes through new journey when SAP unveils a big new product like S/4HANA. Infosys, both a customer and partner of SAP, explored lots of possibilities when it was deciding to upgrade its finance platform, according to Mr. Gole. They experienced some complex landscapes but to their satisfaction discovered that SAP had embedded everything into one landscape. From a holistic point of view, said Mr. Gole, S/4HANA really brought business value into the organization. Doing so wasn't merely a migration, but a new formation, he said.

Infosys went from contract to go-live in just five months, according to Mr. Gole. "In the first part of our journey, there were lots of learnings," he said. "It's a single landscape and not just about simple financial solutions." Mr. Gole told the crowd that it took Infosys much shorter than expected to implement S/4HANA because of its simple and seamless nature.

At Karma Automotive, Ketan Gohil said that after the company's acquisition in 2014, they went through lots of "what if?" scenarios. The IT team wondered what platform the newly merged company should use. Sometimes the decisions were difficult to reconcile, he said. But now everything at Karma Automotive is integrated. "Now we are able to do any kind of business analysis and planning because we moved to S/4. We can easily integrate apps out of the box, so that's another migration reason," he said.

Another panelist, Ray Carney of New York Life Insurance Co., said they wanted to transform the roles of their finance professionals. The insurance company also needed to streamline operations and get consistency and transparency. "People can do their jobs better when they work on a streamlined platform," Carney said. The insurance company has also experienced faster processing and better output in reporting, which allows its finance professionals to perform their jobs better. People are rethinking how they do things, according to Carney, and really working to re-engineer their day-to-day jobs.

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