NTT DATA Business Solutions
Ruud Nieuweboer | February 15, 2022

Why SAP S/4HANA is Being Adopted by Life Science Industry Leaders

Single cubes forming the word ‘change’.

(3 min read)

What is SAP S/4HANA?

S/4HANA is a future-proof and stable enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from SAP. Like all ERP platforms, it unites all your business data in one place and accelerates your business processes.

SAP’s latest platform raises the standard benefits of ERP to a new level. With the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) such as machine learning (ML) and advanced analytics, S/4HANA can discover insights, identify trends, make predictions and therefore help with data-driven decisions and business transformation.

The result is a platform that allows you to easily manage large data sets, connect to new technologies and has an intuitive interface, paving the way for Pharma 4.0 practices sooner than your competitors.

How SAP S/4HANA Benefits Life Sciences

Pharma 4.0 is an emerging stage of industrialization, which is disrupting the life science industry and forcing leaders to redesign their core business processes, and even transform their business models. You may have heard the terms ‘intelligent enterprise’ and ‘smart factory’ before, however in more accurate terms, this trend is a life science offshoot of Industry 4.0. It revolves around the ability to predict what might occur and preventively alter the course of action.

For this vision life sciences companies need a holistic view of their data and technology such as AI to analyze it. This is because the amount of data is growing exponentially, not just from inside the company but from external sources such as suppliers, contractors and globally dispersed production factories. Additionally, production processes are becoming more complex with the rise of personalized medicine and increased dependence on global supply chains.

To achieve this, pharma companies need real-time insight into their production data. This means not only having planning-related data directly available, but also matching it with actual production data coming from equipment. IoT devices and platforms make this possible by providing real-time data on equipment, machines and materials along the drug processing process, while machine learning algorithms predict and resolve issues before they happen. The end result is an increase in production quality and patient safety.

Life Sciences Challenges – Transformed Versus Traditional Business Processes:

Graphic explaining the challenges for life sciences companies.

Rising to these challenges and opportunities of Pharma 4.0 is only possible if your business has a strong digital core. This is where SAP S/4HANA comes in. With real-time analytics and the ability to operate with big data sets, mobile applications and IoT devices, it’s possible better react to the new business challenges and new trends in the life sciences industry.

What Makes SAP S/4HANA Unique

SAP S/4HANA supports a vast amount of ERP processes, across many lines of businesses, but the new platform can be expanded with almost limitless best of breed applications and can obviously be tailored to fit your unique business. For this reason, choosing the right implementation partner is crucial. However, there are some unique features of SAP’s platform which separate it from competitors.

Firstly, the system is built using the power of SAP HANA, an advanced database used in other category-leading SAP products. When implemented by NTT DATA Business Solutions, SAP S/4HANA comes with a large number of pre-configured processes, specifically designed for life science businesses. This can make it much faster to implement and customize than other ERPs.

Moving From SAP ECC 6.0

SAP ECC 6.0 is a legacy ERP platform used by many life science organizations. Support is currently being phased out as it is being replaced by SAP S/4HANA as the modern standard.

To migrate to SAP S/4HANA, three different approaches are available: Greenfield, Brownfield and Hybrid. A majority of ECC 6.0 users find that brownfield is the best fit. This involves updating the back end of the system first, harvesting crucial functionalities and updating the front-end whenever it fits the roadmap.


If you’re ready to learn more and discover how a safe transition project with NTT DATA Business Solutions works, simply download our guide ‘Making a Validated Move to SAP S/4HANA’.

Download the Guide