Slavisa Lecic, Customer Solution Advisor for S/4HANA at SAP talks about the company`s experience when it comes to digitalization, but also presents the S/4HANA ERP system and the SAP MOVEMENT program.
In what way has the coronavirus pandemic changed the needs for the digitalization of companies?
Our standard approach, which concerns the transformation of users to the new S/4HANA system, has several elements that need to be considered. The first pertains to the strategic orientation and goals, where the operations/organization want to go in the next few years. The second pertains to the current state of the business, that is, how we work, where there are challenges, which processes we want to upgrade. The third concerns the current state of IT apps and technologies which are used and the final one and a very important one concerns the external effects that have an impact on the business and which should influence the future state and the strategy when it comes to IT applications which should help an organization operate successfully. When talking about the external factor, coronavirus is certainly, unfortunately, an inevitable factor that we need to consider. Keeping in mind all the health recommendations and the current state in the countries and the markets that companies operate in, this is a factor that has considerably influenced and will continue to influence the decisions being made and pertaining to future digitalization of companies and the changing of the way companies do business, how they approach users, the manner of sale and so on.
Based on the decades of experience of SAP, how would you rate the readiness of companies, both small and large, to digitalize their operations?
As I`ve already said, the external factor that is present at the moment, namely, the pandemic, has caused companies to set digitalization as a priority, so there are two dimensions that we need to consider. One pertains to the optimization of business operations, whereas the other pertains to looking for new market opportunities in order to optimize a portfolio, define new products and services and find new business opportunities. In my opinion, executing any of these initiatives is impossible unless there`s an adequate support of business apps, digitalization of business processes and the use of innovative technologies.
What is your experience in the local market? What does business digitalization entail in Serbia in most cases?
More or less, as I`ve already said, there are two dimensions that are almost always considered in the process of making decisions related to digitalization. What`s important to note is that there are many ongoing initiatives and projects, where companies which are long-term SAP users are working on transformation and investing in various business solutions in order to upgrade their business operations.
A new era of intelligent business has come. What does the new digital core entail and why have you decided to upgrade your core?
Intelligent business entails the use of innovative technologies such as machine learning, Robotic Process Automation, Chatbot and so on. All these new technologies are supposed to help us to automatize business processes and to make use of the best things that an organization has, and that`s knowledge, decision-making based on the information we have, both the information generated by internal applications and the external sources of data we can access. The basis of any digitalization is the so-called digital core, or an ERP system which should enable us to manage and plan all the resources of an organization in the best way possible. It is the basis for the improvement of all other processes in the domain of finances, logistics management and human capital management.
What is S/4HANA?
S/4HANA is a new generations of the SAP ERP system with built-in intelligent technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced analytics. It helps with the process of transformation of business processes through automatization and works on the SAP HANA platform. It enables organizations to reach new markets, increase their income, increase the rate of keeping the users and improve the business possibilities. In a survey among 110 users of the S/4HANA system, the subjects emphasized that the options offered by S/4HANA had enabled them to considerably optimize their processes and increase their income. Of course, the companies also needed to adapt their business processes and change their internal operations, but SAP S/4HANA provided a significant foundation on which they could build their changes (source Forrester Report).
What is the SAP MOVEMENT program?
Five years ago, when SAP started developing a new generation of the ERP system, S/4HANA SAP created a program called SAP Movement. The program itself entails nearly all the organizational units within the SAP organization and the partnership network that makes up the entire SAP ecosystem. The program defines recommendations for the existing SAP users and contains a substantial set of tools which help with the decision-making process and in the implementation itself or the migration to a new platform. In addition to recommendations and tools, experienced SAP experts are available to our end-users, advising them and providing important support during the transition process.
What is your advice for companies looking to start a digital transformation? Where should they start and what should they pay attention to?
As I`ve already said, at the beginning, it is very important for the users to consider where the organization wants to go and what challenges it is facing at that moment. It is also important to determine the current state of the IT apps and to consider all the external factors in order to define the future state of IT apps and, with that, the way to make a transformation of switching to a S/4HANA solution. SAP experts and SAP implementation partners are available for advice regarding the best practice and experience and which tools to use in which moment of the transition.
What are the company`s plans for the upcoming period?
As for the next steps and plans, it is certainly to keep the leading position in the domain of ERP solutions. The resources are directed at the development and upgrade of the new S/4HANA solutions, which can be used on premise and in a cloud environment. Considering the history and the experience, what`s important to emphasize is the preservation and development of the best industrial practices that made SAP ERP recognizable on the market. Considering that S/4HANA is the fastest growing product in the SAP portfolio, with over 5,500 users worldwide, SAP carefully pays attention to their needs and adapts the future development.