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SAP's Path toward a Cloud Driven Enterprise
Vijay Garg
CEO-The Principal Consulting
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
In recent months, SAP has been gaining strong momentum behind their 'Run Simple' strategy, which focuses on a cloudfirst approach to their products and new solution releases. A core tenet of this strategy is centralization, and the need for businesses today to be data driven and function seamlessly through a single, unified platform.

A great example of this platform is SAP's latest Business Suite for HANA, commonly known as S/4HANA. This solution was originally built for private clouds, and has now expanded to public clouds via the recent launch of S/4HANA Cloud Edition.

The architecture change of S/4HANA allows the software suite to be much more efficient and expandable, by taking advantage of the HANA in-memory architecture, in turn keeping the platform lean, more manageable,with the capability to integrate with other modules much more easily. The thinking behind this approach is to encourage both new and existing SAP customers to move from outdated legacy systems to cloud-based services, ultimately software delivered as a service, not just as a product.

Why are customers considering a cloud-based platform?
- Fast implementation timelines providing quick access to functionality
- SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud customers participate in SAP's continuous innovation, positioning business to best future proof their investments
- Reduce costs associated with running and maintaining a data center
- IT resources can be freed an work on strategic topics
- Flexibility of subscription costs rather than standard license contracts
- Scalability to support changing business needs, encouraging and supporting growth

The notion that centralized data is foundation of an enterprise is also evident within SAP's latest evolution of CRM. Industry analysts and experts agree that innovations in mobile applications, in-memory technology, predictive analytics, and e-commerce will reshape the direction of CRM.

This third generation of CRM is a 'Customer Engagement and Commerce Platform', built to reside on the SAP HANA Cloud, enables organizations to deliver contextual, consistent, and relevant experiences at any touchpoint, regardless of channel or device, throughout the customer journey, in realtime.

Customer Engagement and Commerce Solution Spotlight: SAP Cloud for Customer
Product Capabilities:

- Account and management intelligence
- Collaboration and social selling
- Efficient field service management solutions
- Knowledge base and customer support portals
- Opportunity management and insights
- Real-time actionable analytics
- Sales performance management
- Service ticket management
- Social channel engagement

Technical capabilities:

- APIs and SDK
- Back-office integration and simplified mash-ups
- Email and notes integration
- Mobility and offline access
- Productivity and personalization

This cloud-driven path towards the future is intended to help businesses keep their data together, operating from one platform, keeping in line with SAP's current strategy. Still today, the large majority of SAP customers run on-premise only, or allow on-premise software to run in an outsourced data-center, so the idea of a fully functioning cloud enterprise is still fairly new.

SAP customers are however showing great strides in adopting these latest technologies, shifting away from the complex on-premise systems of yesteryear. While cloud uncertainties and hesitations still exist within the enterprise, pilot releases of customer engagement and commerce solutions built through on-premise integrations have been wildly successful. This happy medium acts as an ideal showcase of the cloud, without committing to a full transition. On-premise systems remain in place, providing a harmonious integration of data, with both read and write capabilities. This approach limits disruptions while promoting user adoption of the cloud platform.

The current strategy of SAP is clear - bring SAP HANA and its business software together and have companies in multiple industries deploy them within cloud environments. The road to this widespread cloud adoption within the enterprise will continue to take time, and include a few hurdles, but current adoption trends are more than encouraging, continuously making strides due to the sound approach of not abandoning on-premise systems prematurely.
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