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Nov 22 2019

Infrastructure. Culture

And SAP’s S/4HANA helps it thrive



Let’s get philosophical about infrastructure. Don’t yawn; it’s actually quite intellectually stimulating. Former Stanford economics professor W. Brian Arthur wrote a famous book called ‘The Nature of Technology’ and in it he made a simple but powerful point: technology human culture and commerce. Without it we would not be to fulfil our nature, which is to interact and make things.


An Infrastructure Renaissance?

I believe that we’re seeing a renaissance in the way we think about infrastructure. The need to renew physical infrastructure is a rising political issue. Governments in the developed world are beginning to realize that nothing last forever. It must be renewed, updated, and transformed. Digital infrastructures might be new – relative to the physical kind – but change is faster. And it’s not just technological change which drives the need to keep ahead of the curve; it’s changes in demand from people – customers.

That’s why I think the introduction of SAP’s S/4HANA is important. It’s an evolution that runs at the speed of change and disruption in the real world. It’s not just about moving from one version to another, it’s a continuum. It’s a new way to evolve your digital infrastructure and both modernize and consolidate it.

It opens new ways to do fundamental processes and it energizes organizations to innovate in the way they run themselves as well as disrupt their own business models (before their competitors do it).


The true meaning of sustainability

Sustainability is not about keeping things the same. It’s about using technology to do what you already do better, and to protect the core of your business so that you can innovate and prepare for the future. You sustain your enterprise. Digital is a key part of that.

In retail that means being agile enough to balance online with offline not just to get the best of both worlds, but to achieve a strong brand which cuts through to the consumer. SAP environments support organizations as they bridge both world: physical and digital. Most importantly, SAP enables you to create a single world – your world, the world of your brand.

When a consumer engages with you online, they get a personalized retail experience which continues effortlessly as they subsequently walk into a physical store. (It works the other way around too). Your infrastructure seamlessly recognizes each individual, knows their shopping history and preferences, and matches their online behaviors with what they’re offered in store.

Each store associate, using the right hand-held devices connected to a deep data profile, can then respond immediately to requests and preferences, and interact with the storeroom, warehouse, and entire supply chain to either hand over the item right there and then, or ensure it’s delivered (even in a tailored form) by the time the consumer gets home (or at least, the next day).

That sustains the most important element of the whole equation: the relationship with the consumer and their loyalty to the brand. That’s all that matters.

The same is true in manufacturing. The progress to achieving Lot Size One is important. The customers of manufacturing enterprises have long been looking beyond Lean to reduce the need to stock or transport products in bulk. That means the factory floor needs to change fundamentally: the era of complex production lines making large numbers of uniform products is over. Now, classic automation, intelligent robots, and humans work together as teams to fulfil specific orders. The introduction of IoT devices to products means that manufacturers can ‘servitize’ their offerings and get closer to customers to create long-lasting relationships.

In transport, the rise of ‘Mobility as a Service’ is changing the way, for instance, cars are designed, manufactured and sold. Suddenly, it’s not longer necessary for many to actually buy a car, they want to use it when and if they need it. Leading automotive manufacturers are making robust vehicles which can be shared by users signed up to an app. That drives brand loyalty and builds a profitable relationship that can be sustained for many years.


Consolidation, Modernization & Business Continuity – at the right time

Those are the three things that count. I argue that they’re at the heart of the migration to SAP’s S/4HANA. That’s simply because it’s what the solution delivers. They aren’t things you can wait for – they must be put into place now. Don’t worry about the 2025 deadline. For me, that’s not the point. The point is to act now to focus your digital journey on what matters to you and to leverage the power of SAP to do it in a consolidated way so you modernize to be agile enough to get ahead of change, and achieve business continuity.


Find out more about how can be intelligent, together and make the most if the S/4HANA opportunity – we have specific examples here.

Part 3 of this blog will be available soon.


Susanne Brügelmann


About the Author:

Susanne Brügelmann
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Global Marketing – Susanne is responsible for Product Marketing of Fujitsu's SAP Infrastructure Portfolio globally. Her background includes localization,...


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