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The move to SAP Intelligent Enterprise starts with small steps

When it comes to moving to SAP Intelligent Enterprise, taking the journey one step at a time is the best method.

Instead of jumping in with both feet first, SAP customers are testing the waters with applications that address immediate pain points, like gaining real-time visibility into inventory or extracting data from legacy systems. Users have seen the benefit of taking smaller steps instead of implementing SAP Intelligent Enterprise in one fell swoop.

SAP Intelligent Enterprise is designed to help companies gain real-time insights from data by providing users with customer data, predictive analytics and other technologies. In fact, most companies are already using SAP Intelligent Enterprise technologies such as robotic process automation, IoT and HANA as a platform for it, said Chris Crone, senior vice president of strategic communities and relationships at Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG), an independent SAP user group.

Users want immediate access to real-time data, but they're not thinking in terms of becoming an Intelligent Enterprise, she said.

According to Crone, very few of the people she's spoken with are using S/4HANA and the intelligent technology as a declaration that they're an intelligent enterprise.

"They're going along paths to solve business problems," she said.

Solving the real-time inventory challenge

Komatsu America Corp., a construction equipment manufacturer and supplier, needed to provide real-time inventory information to its distributors. It was cumbersome to order machines and quote availability, and the company wanted to implement a cloud platform that would provide that visibility and automate the order process by allowing distributors to order multiple machines at once.

The challenge lay in the SAP ECC 6.0 system -- which hadn't undergone an upgrade to its order entry system in nearly two decades. There was no mobile capacity for viewing inventory or ordering. However, Komatsu America didn't want to scrap its entire system. Instead, it sought technology it could use with what it already had -- and that wouldn't require a multiyear implementation, said Daphyne Woodard, manager of order and distribution continued improvement at Komatsu America.

Komatsu America overlaid the SAP Cloud Platform onto its SAP ECC configuration to meet its goals. This also allowed the company to expand its order platform, called Kview, for U.S. and Canadian orders to nine different departments within the organization and reduce order entry time, Woodard said.

Technology wasn't always the focus for Komatsu America or its parent company. Now, however, both companies embrace it, and there are plans to expand the Kview order platform internationally. Eventually, Komatsu America also has plans to implement SAP S/4HANA. Right now, the focus is on refining the Kview platform, adding more for product marketing and product development teams and adding features that users have requested, Woodard said.

Accessing data from multiple systems

Because so much of being an Intelligent Enterprise hinges on being able to use data, Bombardier Inc. is taking an approach that allows it to access data from multiple systems.

"It's not about the coolness of the software package," said Jeff Hutchinson, global CIO at Bombardier, which manufactures airplanes and trains.

Any executives considering SAP Intelligent Enterprise should ask themselves how they can become more intelligent, how they can make better and more accurate decisions and how they can outperform the competition, he said.

Hutchinson's vision for the Intelligent Enterprise isn't just about adding applications or customizations. It's about avoiding excessive customizations and following good management processes, he said.

He cites Maple Leaf Foods as an example; about eight years ago, the company deployed a standard version of SAP ECC with only 100 customizations when the computer system first went live, which allowed users to harvest information and use it before HANA even came into the picture.

A global company, Bombardier stores its data in multiple systems and has one or two dozen ERP systems in its environment. This makes it a little harder to emulate Maple Leaf Foods, but Bombardier plans to add another layer to these systems and extract relevant data for the HANA environment to maximize the data's value, Hutchinson said.

"We talk about being an SAP shop; we do use some competitor products, and any company that says they don't use Salesforce is joking," Hutchinson said.

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