Building a Platform for the Future
A Platform For The Future Must Address Challenges, Be Sustainable, And Needs The Right Partner
Meet the Experts
⇨ Deploying a platform for the future involves answering questions around sustainability, innovations, and integration with other applications
⇨ Finding the right partner to assist with these challenges can help ensure the success of these deployments
While most organizations are in the process of updating or transforming their SAP landscape over the next few years, there are a number of challenges that they must address to complete this successfully. One of the biggest of these challenges is the move to SAP S/4HANA, something nearly a quarter of the respondents to recent SAPinsider research are trying to coordinate with their infrastructure changes. But the other decisions they must make can be just as important. How can systems be moved to the cloud? What is the right cloud environment and platform to use? How can supply chain stability be ensured? How sustainable is new infrastructure? What happens to an existing landscape after it is replaced? All these are questions that must be answered by organizations planning infrastructure change.
Today’s Platform Challenges
To better understand these challenges, SAPinsider sat down with Andreas Schmidt, Offering Manager for SAP Digitalization at T-Systems. Schmidt says that many organizations that he works with are in the process of moving to SAP S/4HANA and planning a digitalization process for which they already have a roadmap. But the challenge they face is that there is no common approach to that deployment. Every landscape is unique, and each organization has different priorities and constraints that need to be considered. Many of these organizations are looking for advice as they create their roadmaps to address these challenges.
Not every implementation partner or services organization has experience with different cloud environments. Some are focused on hyperscaler or public cloud environments, while others only have experience with private cloud. But even if the partner has experience with multiple cloud environments, it is important that the implementation partner focus on the needs of the customer. This involves helping them understand the value of different choices in addition to more traditional implementation services.
“When we talk about digitalization,” says Schmidt, “It is important that we point out the advantages for customers. How will digitalization support customers in the different challenges that they face? With sustainability? With innovations? With the integration of SAP S/4HANA? And in Europe and Germany the challenge of the new Supply Chain Transparency Act?”
To assist with these challenges, T-Systems have set up a range of offerings that help explain the value of digitization and how it can support their day-to-day activities. T-Systems also has set up an enterprise innovation platform that is a central point for SAP customers to manage machine learning (ML), internet-of-things (IoT), and digital twin scenarios. Organizations can benefit significantly from working with partners such as T-Systems who have created services like these that can be tailored to their unique needs and environment.
Creating Sustainable Platforms
Over the last few years there has been an increased focus on sustainability across the enterprise. This started with how the organization operates, has expanded to ensuring sustainability across the supply chain, and SAP has released solutions that will help organizations measure their sustainability performance. Not excluded from this focus on sustainability is IT infrastructure. SAPinsider research on infrastructure trends found that 57% of respondents said that it was important their organization create a sustainable infrastructure and landscape with another 31% saying that it was moderately important.
Schmidt also sees this focus on sustainability impacting organization’s infrastructure choices. “Sustainability for T-Systems is not just a buzzword,” says Schmidt. “Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges for the companies we work with. T-Systems itself has been using 100% renewable energy since 2021, and we have a goal of zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2025. From 2030 on we plan to reduce the carbon dioxide emission per customer by 25%. But we also work to guide and support our customers on this topic, and there are different tools and services that we are offering within our sustainability consulting package.” T-Systems also helps customers that are looking to implement SAP Sustainability Control Tower and SAP Product Footprint Management which help manage and track sustainability goals.
Any organization planning to update systems and infrastructure should be looking for a partner that can help them meet these sustainability challenges. An important measure of their effectiveness will be determined by their own efforts in the sustainability space. Those who are prioritizing sustainability in their own environments may be able to offer important insights for organizations that have equally complex landscapes.
Finding the Right Partner
While any organization starting a landscape transformation is looking for an implementation partner, one of the most important requirements for that partner is their experience. This was reflected in our Deployment Approaches for SAP S/4HANA benchmark report where the second most important requirement for organizations doing an SAP S/4HANA deployment was that of a proven partner with experience implementing SAP S/4HANA.
Given the complexity of a move to SAP S/4HANA, having appropriate experience is vital. This is because organizations are looking at their deployment partners to help them update and adapt custom code, effectively manage the project, develop their business case, optimize workflows, provide additional resources, and implement effective change management.
Vendors like T-Systems offer significant experience with these topics as they have managed hundreds of SAP projects. Their long-term partnership with SAP also ensures that their deployment teams are very experienced. When looking at a landscape change, move to SAP S/4HANA, or digitization of SAP services, finding a partner with this level of experience can be the difference between a successful or an unsuccessful project.
But beyond ensuring project cost and the overall budget, something that may not be as visible when selecting a partner is their experience with minimizing downtime. This can be just as important as minimizing cost. If a key system will be offline for an extended period of time, which could be the case when moving from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA, that can be far more expensive for an organization in other ways. That is why it is important to verify that an implementation partner has experience with minimizing downtime.
Something that can help accelerate deployment times and reduce downtime is being able to automate many of the transition tasks. An experienced partner will have automation tools that can be used to for both SAP and infrastructure provisioning. Having these tools, and the experience of having used them with other deployments over many years, should be a conversation point with any potential implementation partner.
The last major point of experience that should be explored with potential partners is related to security. SAPinsider research has shown that many organizations use external partners to assist with security configurations. Organizations are also looking to their providers to automatically manage security updates. Many organizations do not have internal experts when it comes to cloud and infrastructure security, so it is important when evaluating a hosting or implementation partner that they have experience with securing both infrastructure and the SAP solutions running on that infrastructure.
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?
Building a platform for the future is a major investment for any organization. Even when using cloud or hybrid cloud environments, moving your systems to a provider is a major project and can be expensive to change. Given the duration and scope of these projects, what are some steps that can be taken to help prepare for these challenges?
- Identify and define the success criteria for the project early in the process. Every organization is different. Some may be looking to move everything to the cloud, while others will continue to leverage on-premise or hybrid landscapes for some time. A lift and shift to new infrastructure may involve very different success criteria than an SAP S/4HANA deployment. Any project should start by identifying the goals that must be met and how success will be measured. Is performance a priority? Sustainability? Reduced cost? Whatever the challenge being addressed, having measurement criteria in place from the beginning will help ensure overall success.
- Understand how sustainability will play into any new infrastructure or deployment plans. Many countries are putting in place regulations around sustainability both in how it is managed across the supply chain and in terms of reducing emissions for business activities. The majority of organizations are looking to implement more sustainable infrastructure, but it is important that you work with an experienced partner that has the ability to ensure that any landscape that is implemented is truly sustainable.
- Find a partner that has the experience needed and can support capabilities that are key to deployments. Organizations are looking for partners that have the experience that they need to address their unique challenges. But different partners have different capabilities and levels of experience. Finding the partner that has the right experience to address your specific challenges can be difficult, but starting with one that has a significant background with SAP systems, moving to SAP S/4HANA, and transitioning and supporting cloud-based landscapes and applications is a good starting point.
T-Systems is your partner for SAP digital transformation. With around 28,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of EUR 4 billion (2021), T-Systems is one of the leading providers of digital services. Our 4000+ SAP certified experts will guide you and take care of your SAP landscapes. We also offer transformation packages based on multi-cloud landscapes in support of RISE with SAP to ensure your organization becomes an intelligent, lean and sustainable enterprise.