In conversation with Eugen Martin

May 2024: The Head of SAP Application talks about SAP yesterday, today and tomorrow

There is no universal recipe: finding the right SAP ecosystem

To get the best out of the individual components of an Eco System, you need a clear understanding of the specific requirements of a project. It is important for emineo to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each technology to the customer in order to create a sound basis for decision-making.

As an IT service provider and consulting company, we are currently being confronted with a large number of questions from customers. In the following article, Eugen Martin, Head of SAP Application at emineo, provides an insight and overview of the current developments, challenges and decision-making that many companies are currently facing in connection with the switch to S/4HANA.

SAP in the IT world
According to statistica, SAP is a leading provider of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) products worldwide with a market share of around 19%, which includes both on-premise and cloud solutions. In addition to the traditional ERP scope, SAP also offers tools for the digitalization and optimization of processes in areas such as business intelligence and human capital management. Our task is often to develop hybrid solutions that combine on-premise and cloud products and to design the implementation process together with our customers.

ERP tools such as SAP offer clear advantages in terms of implementation and aftercare, as they are widely used as standard software and offer customization options for individual customer requirements.

More than ERP
SAP is typically equated with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) products. These are on premise or cloud solutions, which are the most relevant SAP products. However, there are also other tools that digitize and optimize processes outside the classic ERP scope. For example, in the business intelligence or human capital environment. Experience has shown that our task is to outline a hybrid solution consisting of on-premise and cloud products and to set up the process for implementation together with the customer.

SAP is one of the most important representatives of the ERP software family and offers extensive customizing options for individual requirements. If these options reach their limits, additional functions can be programmed via extensions.

Developments, trends and challenges

KI and Cloud: Current topics such as AI and cloud technology are also very present in the SAP environment. As in other emerging areas, the typical challenges here are customer concerns about data security, legal requirements for data storage and the quality of the AI-generated results.

Scalability and multiplier: Once a company reaches a certain size, the standardization of business processes, their integration and the associated scalability become elementary. This is where ERP systems really come into their own. The more business processes an ERP system covers in different areas of the company and the higher the level of integration between the systems, the greater the value of an ERP system.

SAP and Oracle are among the highest quality representatives of ERP systems. While Oracle is well established in the North American market, SAP is mostly used in Europe and particularly in German-speaking countries. In other words, once a company reaches a certain size, there is typically no way around an ERP tool. SAP is often the system of choice, as many alternatives do not cover business processes completely or to a high standard.

Taking a closer look
User interface is decisive: SAP uses numerous innovative technologies such as AI to advance its products. For a long time, the SAP GUI was considered outdated, but with the new UX strategy, SAP is at the forefront. It relies on the so-called SAP Fiori GUI, which is based on HTML, can therefore be operated via a browser and is available on all mobile devices. Since S/4HANA, the current ERP business suite, Fiori Technology has been standard.

Everyone goes to the cloud: SAP also relies on the cloud strategy for innovations. This means that SAP’s latest innovations could only be available in the cloud in future. This does not mean that on-premise solutions generally do not undergo further functional development. But on-premise customers, for example, cannot benefit from innovation leaps such as artificial intelligence (AI) and green ledgers. This also applies to larger function modules and extensions based on the Business Technology Platform (BTP). This development is unsettling for many on-premise customers and is viewed critically by the German-speaking SAP user group (DSAG), which acts as a mouthpiece for SAP users.

S/4HANA: evolution or revolution?
Not all SAP customers have yet switched to the latest generation of S/4HANA, but most are expected to do so by 2027. Both customers and SAP itself need a certain stabilization period after the switch from ECC to S/4HANA.

The added value of S/4HANA must be determined individually for each customer. After all, what use is the fact that a certain process is now running even more efficiently if this process is not even in use? SAP provides tools that automatically analyze existing processes and suggest improvements in S/4HANA. emineo conducts such analyses with customers as part of transformation projects or preliminary studies.

S/4HANA is not just a new release from SAP, but a major leap forward. The use of HANA technology changes the system performance and therefore also the system architecture. This creates a functionality in the system that was previously not possible or only possible to a limited extent for performance reasons. One example of this is embedded analytics, whose analytical BI functions are integrated directly into the ERP system in real time. This allows business processes to be managed even more efficiently.

Transformation strategy and future viability
Even if optional extended maintenance is to be possible after 2027 until the end of 2030, it is certainly not advisable to wait. A transformation strategy is needed. Different scenarios are possible. The best approach depends on many factors. How is historical data handled? Is the cloud part of the strategy? How “clean” is the current system or would a clean-up be desirable? As part of an “S4 Transformation Study”, we find the best conversion approach and the right strategy for our customers. The fact is, many questions cannot be answered in general terms.

Why with emineo?

emineo can support customers both in the standard software area with the current SAP expertise in almost all areas and in the individual software area. This gives us the opportunity to offer customized solutions from a single source, whereas traditional SAP consulting firms typically specialize exclusively in SAP. At the same time, we have a wide range of expertise. We have established our own Center of Excellence for both the topic of transformation and the core competence of UX.

About the author

Eugen Martin has more than 20 years of experience in SAP consulting, particularly in finance. As a university lecturer and head of the Finance Switzerland working group in DSAG, he uses his specialist knowledge to advance the industry. As Head of SAP Application at emineo, he manages numerous projects for process digitization and optimization. Eugen Martin also enjoys driving in his private life and demonstrates the same calm and foresight in the cockpit as he does at work.

Eugen Martin

Eugen Martin
Head of SAP Application

“Eugen likes to take the wheel”

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