NTT DATA Business Solutions
Andy Steer | April 1, 2016

“Not a Matter of If, but When” – CTO Andy Steer on SAP S/4HANA


Good preparation pays off. And this is certainly true when implementing the next generation business suite from SAP. For this second issue of our travel guide for your individual journey to SAP S/4HANA, we interviewed Andy Steer, CTO at NTT DATA Business Solutions UK. Here are his insights and recommendations for a successful deployment.

Most decision makers are already well aware that SAP S/4HANA implementation is a significant task. But what should they bear in mind when preparing for it?

Andy Steer: There are three crucial points that customers need to consider. Firstly, it is important to understand that SAP S/4HANA is the future of SAP software. For any organization that runs SAP solutions, this means that SAP S/4HANA is not a matter of if, but when. Secondly, these are new applications that drive change—and change means new opportunities to add business value. The flipside, however, is that you will have to work on that change if you want to take advantage of the new capabilities. For example, you will have to first engage your business users and then train them. Finally, it is important to identify how many of your current processes will still be supported within the new products. Now I’m not saying that you will have to completely reinvent your organization, but there will certainly be scope to improve the way you do things.

You said that SAP S/4HANA is not a matter of if, but when. What does this mean for customers?

Basically, not making a decision is, in fact, a decision in itself. SAP is putting a lot of research and development into new products. If you stall for too long, this will create an innovation gap and you will have to play catch-up. So it is definitely worth at least starting to think about SAP S/4HANA as soon as possible. But don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean there’s a fundamental problem with the current versions. It’s just that SAP S/4HANA provides a simpler data model and new capabilities that generate business value. That’s why, sooner or later, most businesses are going to make the transition. In fact, the bulk of our customers are already thinking about how they will do this.

Can businesses profit from making a decision early on, then?

Certainly. Delivering additional capabilities, such as new analytics solutions, is radically simpler within the SAP S/4HANA architecture than within a traditional architecture. So this is a great reason to ‘step forward’ and move to SAP S/4HANA now. Plus, with historical systems, you are essentially building on foundations that you know you will change in the future, leading to higher costs and effort in the long term. You might even find that the solutions you build are actually a core capability of SAP S/4HANA. This is another reason why it is important to understand SAP’s strategy and product roadmap. By preparing early, you not only get ahead of the curve and avoid missing opportunities, but you also stand to save a lot of unnecessary outlay.

So what resources can help organizations along their SAP S/4HANA journey?

SAP offers many powerful tools that customers should be aware of, such as the Maintenance Planner and Software Update Manager. And the Database Migration Option provides an effective way to speed up the migration process. I also highly recommend starting with the Simplification List for SAP S/4HANA. This is a very important resource that customers should use before making the transition.

Migration to SAP S/4HANA is a sizeable initiative, but NTT DATA Business Solutions can support you through the process. Our knowledge and experience working with these tools help you to use them in the right way for your environment. We can organize workshops, uncover business value, and execute the technical tasks for you either locally or remotely. The result is a simpler, more cost-efficient journey to SAP S/4HANA, so you can reap the benefits and gain the competitive edge.

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