The Business Case for SAP S/4HANA Research Report


Building the business case for SAP S/4HANA is one of the biggest obstacles that organizations face as they approach their transition to SAP S/4HANA. Even though the content of a business case can vary widely depending on the requirements of a given organization, those working on the project need to understand how business processes will be impacted, potential costs involved, resources required, timelines, and what can be achieved within budget constraints. Overall, building a business case can be an extremely complex task.

In Q2 of 2020, SAPinsider surveyed members of the SAPinsider Community to understand how they are building their business cases for SAP S/4HANA.

Read the report and watch the webinar to:

  • Learn about the primary internal and external pressures impacting business cases
  • Understand what issues are most instrumental in building the business case
  • See how respondents plan to measure the results
  • Receive recommendations for building your own business case

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Deployment Approaches for SAP S/4HANA Research Report


Deploying SAP S/4HANA is an opportunity for organizations to re-engineer and optimize their existing processes and reduce the technical debt that has become attached to their legacy ERP systems. Some may re-use existing hardware, while others are deploying to new platforms or infrastructure solutions. Organizations are also seeing increased pressure to minimize the cost of the deployment, while at the same time deploy a fully compliant system that minimally disrupts operations.

In Q2 of 2020, SAPinsider surveyed members of the SAPinsider Community to understand how they are approaching their deployment of SAP S/4HANA. By reading this report you will:

  • Learn about what deployment models are being used for SAP S/4HANA
  • Understand what cloud deployment models are being used
  • See what impact COVID-19 is having on SAP S/4HANA deployment
  • Receive recommendations for making your own successful deployment of SAP S/4HANA

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Integrating Process Automation and SAP S/4HANA Research Report


Efficient business processes are the lifeblood of any organization. The opportunity to leverage intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and various forms of robotic process automation are abundant today, but organizations need to carefully select the right technologies and solutions that are the right fit for their business culture, skillsets, and existing solutions.

In Q2 of 2020, SAPinsider surveyed members of the SAPinsider Community to understand how they are applying various solutions and technologies to improve and optimize their critical end-to-end business processes.

Read the report and watch the webinar to:

  • Learn what technologies and solutions SAP customers are using to enhance business processes
  • Understand what issues they face when improving processes that cut across SAP and non-SAP applications
  • See how respondents are prioritizing process automation in different business areas such as finance, HR, SCM, and more
  • Receive recommendations for accelerating your own automation projects

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Riddell Adopts SaaS-Based Automation to Run Its Programs with Ease

Leader in Football Automates and Coordinates Processes Across Multiple SAP Systems, Improves Scheduling, Eliminates Manual Effort, and Instills Ownership Through Self Service

by Lauren Bonneau, Senior Editor, SAPinsider

As sports facilities start to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown — evidenced by NASCAR racing resuming on May 16, 2020 and the announcement that the NBA season will continue on July 31 — it looks like professional sports and likely collegiate games will soon resume to some extent, albeit with social-distancing rules in place and spectatorship not quite what it once was. This prospect is welcome news for holding company BRG Sports, parent company of Riddell, which designs, develops, and markets innovative sports equipment, smart helmet technology, team apparel, and accessories.

Through the divestment of its baseball, softball, hockey, and action sports businesses in 2014, the organization revealed an effort to concentrate on football helmets, protective gear, and apparel. Its flagship brand, Riddell, is the namesake of John Tate Riddell, who invented the first plastic suspension football helmet in 1939. More than 80 years later, the helmet has advanced dramatically — today, it can be personalized to precisely fit the shape of an athlete’s head, and it can include sensors that store and analyze on-field impact data for coaching staff members and trainers to review in real time. Riddell’s InSite smart helmets, which are already in use by some National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football teams, are a step toward improving playing behavior and training by providing coaches and players with a deeper understanding of the head-impact landscape during practice and game competition. Additionally, a coach can monitor impacts from the sidelines during a game and is notified when a hit on a player exceeds certain acceptable parameters and determine if that player needs to be taken out of the game and evaluated in accordance with concussion protocol.

As the helmet evolves, Riddell’s focus on safety is paramount, and the narrowed focus on head protection has manifested success for the business. The 2020 Helmet Laboratory Testing Performance Results — which are released annually by the National Football League (NFL) and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and are based on helmet safety research conducted by independent testing organizations — announced Riddell helmets as the highest performing, meaning they best reduce the severity of head impacts. In fact, Riddell SpeedFlex models held the top three spots of the 35 models evaluated, and eight other Riddell helmet models made the list of helmets recommended for use by NFL players. Currently, Riddell has partnerships with the NFL to be the exclusive provider of licensed collectibles and an authorized supplier of helmets to the NFL, and with USA Football, the sport’s governing body, to be its official protective equipment partner.

With its dedication to minimizing injuries, Riddell has a massive job to accomplish, which includes manufacturing and distributing its equipment in time for each football season, continually manufacturing top-quality product, and meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

Keeping Up with Demand

To fulfill orders from sports organizations, schools, sporting good retail stores, and parents, Riddell, which is headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois, has 10 facilities and offices with 1,400 employees worldwide dedicated to marketing, selling, and manufacturing its product. With its manufacturing crews squarely focused on creating equipment that is optimally safe, the IT department, which is based in Irving, Texas, is tasked with ensuring that all the company’s jobs — from creating accurate invoices to producing the correct number of shoulder pads to developing personalized helmets for student or professional athletes — are performed efficiently and on time.

For its back-end systems, Riddell runs SAP ERP and SAP HANA in addition to other SAP and non-SAP applications. While the organization intends to eventually migrate to SAP S/4HANA, due to its many years of heavily customized code, it anticipates a lengthy preparation process for the conversion, and so the project plan for that move is not yet ironed out, according to Alan Buckner, Basis administrator and SAP HANA database administrator for Riddell.

Throughout its years of operating the standard SAP ERP functionality for process scheduling, Riddell identified some limitations for running jobs, which at a basic level means executing a program that accomplishes a task. For example, a job could be producing invoices so that accounts payable knows who to ask for payment or creating a bill of materials so the manufacturing floor knows what parts to pull to create a helmet. “When we receive an order, that has to be broken out into steps, and programs complete those steps,” says Buckner. “In SAP ERP, calls to ABAP programs in batch jobs are single-threaded, which means jobs can only contain one program execution per step.  There’s no way to run programs in parallel.”

Additionally, the built-in SAP scheduling system had no mechanism to report job failures, which had a significant impact on operations when an important job failed silently and led to late nights for IT personally “babysitting” the entire batch of jobs to ensure each completed successfully, according to Buckner. “As you can imagine, that got old really fast,” he says, describing an urgent need for automated notifications whenever a job failed. Notifications would eliminate tiresome manual supervision and directly notify the individuals responsible for the job so they could address the problem before it affected operations.

To get automated notification and increase productivity, Riddell looked to SAP partner Redwood Software and implemented its on-premise solution Cronacle. This workload automation and job scheduling application runs jobs automatically and monitors the progress and the status of what happens as the job runs and concludes. Among other capabilities, the application allowed Riddell to run more than one process at the same time and to start the next step as soon as all processes in the current step completed, instead of waiting for a scheduled time.

After running this application for many years with great results, Riddell was intrigued by Redwood’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, RunMyJobs. “With the on-premise version, we had to supply the hardware, maintain the database, and perform the backups and disaster recovery activities. We owned all that,” says Buckner. “The attraction of the cloud-based version was that all that maintenance went away. The new application talks to our systems in much the same way that the earlier one did, and it replaces those previous responsibilities that got in the way of the other work we had to do. By offloading the management and support of hardware and licenses, we relieve a lot of hassles.”

Alan Buckner

If a certain job needs to run five days before the close, RunMyJobs can look up the close day, subtract five days from it, and that’s the day that it automatically schedules that job to run.

– Alan Buckner, Basis Administrator and SAP HANA Database Administrator, Riddell

Moving to SaaS-Based Job Scheduling

After previewing a demonstration from Redwood on the new solution’s capabilities, the IT department was convinced to invest in moving its workload automation and job scheduling solution to the cloud. The migration itself from Cronacle to RunMyJobs was smooth and took under a month to complete, and problems were minor and addressed right away, according to Buckner. “An expert from Redwood came on site to assist us with the migration, ensure it was done correctly, show us how to use the product, and hold training classes, which were very helpful,” he says. “Because the project was not a brand-new implementation but rather a migration, it involved pulling out the configuration — that is, the parameters about what a job looks like, what its schedule looks like, and any other functionality in there — from the on-premise application and loading it into the new one. We decided to take a phased approach where we began running two or three secondary functions in parallel in the on-premise system and in the cloud. We watched those in RunMyJobs to ensure they were running properly before turning them off in Cronacle. And we kept that up until all of them were on RunMyJobs.”

After successfully migrating and rolling all jobs completely onto RunMyJobs, Riddell learned about the new capabilities it could use to achieve additional process improvements. Buckner was especially taken with the mobility and accessibility of the new solution. “I no longer had to be in my environment to access the solution — I could be anywhere and watch the system to see what was going on with it,” he says. “About a month after we went live with RunMyJobs, I was at a conference in the middle of a keynote speech, and I got an email that we had a job failure. I was able to immediately pull out my mobile device and investigate what went wrong with it.”

This mobility and alerting functionality eliminates many hours of manual effort, especially for important jobs that previously would have required someone to be sitting at a desktop logged into the SAP system, keeping an eye on the progress, and watching the job run. The benefit of the alerting function is that it eliminates potential time wasting. For example, say a job owner was in the habit of checking on a certain job’s status once every hour. If that individual checked at 9:00 am but the job then failed at 9:05 am, 55 minutes would have been lost since the next manual check would not have occurred until 10:00 am.

“The alerting module in RunMyJobs watches all the jobs for us and tells us if something went wrong so we can fix the problem,” Buckner says. “It makes the job log accessible so I can see the errors themselves right there in the application and know exactly what went wrong with the job. Then I can contact the person that manages that specific function, have them fix it, and then restart the job. But if nothing is wrong with the job, it is completely out of my hands, and I don’t need to be bothered. I get brought in only if I am needed, which is great and frees up a lot of time.”

Coordinating Processes Across Multiple SAP Systems from a Central Location

Another major timesaving benefit that Riddell experienced with RunMyJobs was drastically reducing the time it took to perform previously long-running jobs. For example, the production planning functionality of SAP ERP deals with production processes such as material requirements planning (MRP), and Riddell historically had a long-running MRP job that would detail what each of the manufacturing plants needed to run for the day. Buckner describes this job as a chain that has multiple steps in it, where each step runs a program with a different set of parameters to operate. “The MRP job that we pulled from SAP ERP had 31 steps in it, and each step ran one program,” he says. “With SAP ERP’s built-in scheduling package, each job can only run one program at a time, one after the other. There is no ability to run jobs at the same time and coordinate them to talk to each other.”

At that time, Riddell had plants outside the US, which complicated the planning process due to time-zone differences. To help address this, the 31 steps were orchestrated so that the plants that opened first were earlier in the sequence. However, another complication was that once the MRP process finished, a business intelligence (BI) process needed to start to send that information to the data warehouse. Originally, this was handled by estimating how long the MRP job would take (usually about 10 hours) and scheduling the BI process to start at a specific time after that. But if the MRP process took longer than 10 hours, the jobs would overlap and create a waterfall of extra work. For instance, if the MRP process ran long, the manufacturing plants might start their day with incomplete information, and the BI people would have to expend a lot of time and effort cleaning it up.

RunMyJobs acts as a bridge between systems that do not talk to each other — for Riddell, these were SAP ERP and the data warehouse — and brings them together to coordinate jobs between the systems. In the case of the long-running MRP process, an MRP specialist at Riddell went through all the program calls with the various plants and worked out which could run simultaneously, according to Buckner. “That allowed me to redesign the flow so the MRP job was reduced from 31 steps to 12, where instead of each step running one program, each step could now run multiple programs at the same time,” he says. “The concurrent running of the jobs merged the elapsed times, thus reducing the runtime from more than 10 hours for the MRP job down to about four hours for the whole process.”

Now jobs are orchestrated so that those that can run simultaneously do so, and those that need to run in sequence wait for the completion of one job before the next begins. “We put in a step at the end of the MRP job that kicks off the BI process directly instead of scheduling them separately,” Buckner says. “We coordinated the two, so they don’t bump into each other. The BI job would never start before the MRP job was done, even if the MRP process ran long. And if the MRP job only took two hours, then the BI process would start two hours early. Plants no longer have to wait to start production because the planning job has not finished for them yet, and one job chain can run a process for multiple SAP systems together.”

Event Triggering, Calendaring, and Customizable Security

With RunMyJobs, Riddell has benefited from automation that not only saves time, eliminates manual work, and simplifies formerly complex processes, but also improves performance. The flexibility of the solution is another aspect that Buckner found useful. In addition to the BI process that starts automatically after the MRP process completes, Riddell uses RunMyJobs to trigger processes based on real-time events, such as for electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions. “When EDI files arrive from vendors, RunMyJobs sees the file appear and kicks off the process to deal with it immediately, as opposed to scheduling a job that wakes up every hour to look for something,” he says. “This way, we can process transactions as they happen rather than having a built-in artificial delay.”

The organization also uses the Redwood application on the financial side of the business to eliminate manual effort in scheduling. Riddell follows an accounting calendar of four 13-week quarters — that means every five to six years, the fiscal year is 53 weeks rather than 52. In the past, these tasks had to be scheduled manually to account for this. Today, sophisticated calendaring functionality helps to automate the financial close process. RunMyJobs automatically schedules end-of-month and end-of-quarter tasks based on this complicated calendar. “We put a calendar together that details all our close days, and then we can schedule tasks that are centered around that particular day,” Buckner says. “So, if a certain job needs to run five days before the close, RunMyJobs can look up the close day, subtract five days from it, and that’s the day that it automatically schedules that job to run. I have some jobs that run three times a day the entire week of the close.”

Another way Riddell gained flexibility with the solution is by enabling self-service functionality for internal customers that allows them to access their own data or start jobs they are responsible for. In the past, they had to rely on IT, which meant sometimes jobs had to wait while IT completed other important work. The self-service functionality instilled a sense of ownership in internal customers and made both the business and IT more productive. The application was configured to notify these internal customers when their process completed successfully, and only alert IT if there is a problem.

“We created a framework that allowed a more limited level of security for our controller, who normally performed her work in the middle of the night. That allowed her to access RunMyJobs and perform a simple task to trigger her process to run, without giving her capabilities that would allow her to modify or delete anything. She could kick off that one job, and when it finished, she would get an email letting her know it was done and she could immediately look at her updated numbers,” Buckner says. “That saved a couple of us in IT a lot of sleepless nights waiting for her to call at 4:00 am to kick a job off.”

This framework — allowing job owners to start their own jobs — can also be applied to other jobs. For example, job owners can be enabled to run BI extractions themselves during high-activity times, such as close week. “During closing, I often received many high-priority requests for BI extractions to be run immediately — and then again after some numbers were tweaked,” Buckner says. “I used to get calls three or four times a day with requests to run extractions. The framework we put in place alleviates that by letting select owners trigger their own extractions.”

Continuing to Explore New Features

To stay abreast of all the new capabilities that Redwood provides, Buckner says he often attends its online seminars to get insight into upcoming features or to pick up tidbits on how to maximize the use of RunMyJobs. “Listening to those types of coffee-break sessions are a big help in keeping me in-the-know about what’s coming down the line,” he says.

According to Buckner, moving to a SaaS-based solution with RunMyJobs was the right decision for Riddell, and he is excited to continue the relationship with Redwood into the future. “We have been very pleased with all of the products from Redwood so far,” he says. “The way we can tailor the product to run the way we want it to and build our own processes and functions if we want — it has really helped make our lives a whole lot easier.”

Company Snapshot

Headquarters: Des Plaines, Illinois

Industry: Sporting goods

Employees: 1,400

Company details:

  • Founded in 1929
  • Parent company is BRG Sports
  • Ownership includes Fenway Partners and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP)
  • Industries served include youth sports equipment and apparel; institutional/scholastic sports equipment and apparel; and collegiate and professional football equipment
  • Its Riddell brand is the leading provider of helmets and shoulder pads worn by players of American football at all levels, from youth to professional

SAP solutions: SAP ERP, SAP Business Warehouse, SAP HANA database, SAP Enterprise Portal, and SAP Hybris

Third-party solution: Redwood Software’s RunMyJobs

How a Digital Integration Hub Is a Business Game-Changer in the Experience Economy

by Keith Grayson, Senior Director, SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite Product Management, SAP, and Paul Medaille, Director, SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite Product Management, SAP

Imagine that you are an executive with a major sports team — during normal times rather than the current COVID-19 environment — and you are hosting tens of thousands of fans in your venue every week. To ensure profitable operations, you must safeguard and optimize many different sources of revenue, including ticket sales, luxury box rentals, parking, concessions, and merchandise. And while a competitive team and exciting games tend to be the biggest revenue drivers, there is another area that can have a significant impact on your business success: the fan experience in your stadium or arena.

A scenario such as game day for a major sports team, where everything is happening in the moment, can present a range of challenges when it comes to delivering the best possible fan experience. How do you ensure that there are no bottlenecks in the parking lot, that there are no long lines at the concession or merchandise stands, and that everything and everybody are in the right place as situations change throughout the day? To stay informed and to act in such a fluid environment, you need up-to-the-minute information from a myriad of systems, such as customer engagement, parking control, point of sale (POS), merchandising, ticket sales, and experience management systems.

This was the situation facing the San Francisco 49ers, a franchise of the US National Football League. To support its goal of delivering the best possible game-day experience to fans, the organization built out an executive command-and-control cockpit called Executive Huddle. Based on “digital boardroom” technology from SAP, this cockpit was installed in a luxury box at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. By using SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, the organization was able to integrate data in real time from several cloud-based and on-premise sources — including ParkHub, Sparkcentral, MICROS, and Fanatics — and aggregate that data in SAP Analytics Cloud to present an integrated view to decision makers via the Executive Huddle cockpit. The organization can also integrate the Twilio communication platform with the cockpit to enable executives to react to changing circumstances in real time by texting instructions to employees, which helps improve business outcomes and the fan experience. The Executive Huddle initiative was a featured SAP Innovation Award winner in the Digital Trailblazer category in 2019, and the entire project was completed in just six months.

Of course, not only sports teams face the challenges presented by a rapidly evolving business environment. The same principles apply to any organization, where your products and services are the team you field, every day is game day, and the time to act is now. With the sports team example in mind, let’s look at what comprises a Digital Integration Hub and how it delivers excellence at scale and tangible business value.

What Is a Digital Integration Hub?

Creating a coherent digital view to power a digital boardroom such as Executive Huddle requires data that is gathered across many systems in real time. The systems involved are likely a combination of new cloud-based application services as well as traditional on-premise applications, such as POS systems. Some may be in-house applications, while others will be outsourced cloud applications. When creating reports on dashboards, users want to be able to create different views of data in a consistent way. The best way to do that is for organizations to provide a consistent approach for the interfaces through which the user-facing applications consume data.

SAP customers are increasingly following this approach by using application programming interfaces (APIs) and adopting an API-first approach to integration. Keep in mind that an API-first approach isn’t just about standardizing on a technical API management platform. While the ability to enforce security standards, enable a high level of governance, and access utilization and performance analytics are certainly valuable — as is the focus on standard integration with HTTP-based protocols such as REpresentational State Transfer (REST), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and OData — a transformation in mindset about integration is equally important.

With an API-first mindset, the focus moves away from the minutiae of integration technicalities and toward the business data services that are required to deliver the necessary executive operational insights. Executives decide on the information they need in their real-time dashboards to keep customers happy, which needs to be translated to the set of connected systems providing that data. There needs to be a team that is responsible for delivering the required information as a digital business service API that can be easily consumed by the dashboard applications. It may be that the data identified by executives is not available through the current systems, and if so, a requirements-gathering process is necessary to find out how to get this data. For example, in the case of the sports team, could it come from a mobile “fan” app? Could it come from social media? Is a new customer survey required to get experience data?

A standardized, extensible platform for integration enables organizations to ask these questions without becoming trapped in an extended discussion about which integrated system data should be displayed on the dashboard. An integration platform allows organizations to approach these types of questions as business challenges rather than technical challenges. That said, technical challenges will still exist, and the team that is building and maintaining the executive dashboards — and the platforms that drive them — will require the skillsets of a variety of roles, including those of business requirements analysts, business process experts, analytics and dashboard developers, mobile app developers, integration engineers, and application experts. At first glance, this may sound difficult and labor-intensive — however, it need not be. This is where SAP Cloud Platform comes in — providing the tools required to create a coherent solution that caters to these skills, including user interface, event orchestration, data correlation, and integration functionality.

Better Performance

In a typical “API first” platform, the application clients interact with individuals using APIs through the API management layer, which proxies API calls from the application client and delivers digital business services to the back-end systems of record, data lakes, and databases. This type of strategy can create challenges when deployed at scale. Where client applications are deployed to many end users with unpredictable usage, or where APIs can be subjected to high load conditions, a couple of issues can arise: 1) long round-trip latencies from the client application request to the response from the back-end systems; and 2) scalability of back-end systems servicing many repetitive requests, for which they were not necessarily designed.

A “Digital Integration Hub” architecture can address these challenges by inserting a high-performance, in-memory database between the back-end systems and the API management layer. This database helps customers in three main ways:

  • For APIs that return data to analytical services, the database can act as a cache of data for requests. In this role, for the requests that can be processed in the database, there is a fast turnaround with little latency compared to referring to the back-end applications and database layer.
  • Every request handled through the database using cached data reduces the load on the back-end applications and other systems of record, preventing them from becoming overloaded.
  • The residual load on back-end applications and databases will be reduced due to the servicing of most requests from the database, thus avoiding overloading.

Customers that have implemented a Data Integration Hub architecture using SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite with SAP HANA in the cloud have noticed close to a 10x increase in performance when it comes to reducing response times to requests. In addition, they note better scaling to support increased loads and throughput.

Improved Data Quality

Having addressed performance, the next point to look at is how to populate the database with valuable data packaged into digital business services. Adding a database to create a Digital Integration Hub does not necessarily improve the quality of data-driven services that can be delivered to APIs. In fact, it can compound the challenges of delivering services that comprise data from different sources.

Introducing a data intelligence layer into the architecture can help address this by aggregating data, which may change at different speeds, from multiple sources into the database. This data can include streamed data for preventative maintenance scenarios and combinations of operational and experience data for 360-degree customer views. It can also include information for finding the best-fit personnel for specific roles, to perform predictive maintenance on complex machinery, to assess credit risk, and more.

SAP Data Intelligence provides a bridge between the worlds of data scientists and business process analysts (see Figure 1). This solution can create insights by combining data from multiple sources and curating and enriching combinations of structured data, image processing, video recognition, and other streamed data sources. It can also apply machine learning algorithms to correlate these data sources and deliver meaningful insights and data to an SAP HANA data platform, accessible by analytical applications through APIs.

Figure 1 SAP Data Intelligence aggregates data into a high-performance, in-memory database and creates the foundation for a Digital Integration Hub

Combining an in-memory database with business intelligence on a standardized, extensible platform for integration creates what Endress+Hauser, an SAP Innovation Award finalist in 2020, calls a “Business Data and Integration Hub (BDIH).” Endress+Hauser, which focuses on industrial instrumentation, has used SAP Data Intelligence to evolve from maintaining data siloes to following an approach centered on “data thinking.” According to the company, “The BDIH is the new foundation for our intelligent enterprise enabling new innovative solutions.”

Opening New Lines of Communication with Your Customers

Anything and everything you can do to bring your customers closer provides significant benefit to your business. Everything that improves the customer experience — that eliminates transactional friction, accelerates sales, and makes it easy to do business with you — increases the chances that you will grow and retain your customer base.

Centrica plc — a British multinational energy and services company, a supplier of electricity and natural gas to millions of customers, and an SAP Innovation Award nominee in 2020 — wanted to provide digital access to customers to improve service, lighten the load on call center staff, and increase customer satisfaction. With 10-year-old back-office systems, the company didn’t want to wait for a lengthy upgrade process to improve its business, so it turned to SAP Cloud Platform to implement a Digital Integration Hub to connect customers in real time.

Centrica adopted an API-first integration strategy to expose data-heavy services to customers, and it leveraged open connectors from SAP to provide easy connectivity to non-SAP applications and services. Leveraging SAP HANA as the in-memory database in SAP Cloud Platform, the company reduced SAP solution query response runtime from 1.8 seconds to less than 200 milliseconds. Now, Centrica handles 5-7 million API calls per day through its digital channels, significantly reducing the load on its call center. The business also raised its Net Promoter Score (NPS) for customers that use the digital channel by five points — when compared to customers that manage their accounts offline.

Another SAP Innovation Award nominee in 2020 is the legendary British department store Harrods, which wanted to give its customers a new way to shop via a high-fashion, web-based marketplace. This required a standardized approach to enable connectivity to several systems across multiple technologies and vendors. The company’s existing integration environment was a single, non-resilient middleware component that was complex and difficult to maintain.

For Harrods, the solution was to adopt a cloud-based IT strategy for integration, leveraging SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite to provide standardized integration with third parties through a searchable set of published APIs, and deliver both partner connectivity and seamless integration to on-premise systems. The company was able to deliver this new integration infrastructure in just three months, leveraging a lean team of four employees supplemented by niche experts in back-end APIs. This team deployed more than 100 integration flows to production. Now, Harrods processes three million transactions per week through its digital channel, which allows it to simplify business operations and extend into new markets, such as China and Saudi Arabia.

Eliminating Paper Jams and Improving Business Outcomes

The tarmac at a busy international airport is a bustling environment. It is complex and chaotic, and every day is “game day” — even more so at usual volumes, when the world is not in crisis. Regardless of capacity numbers, airlines need to keep turnaround times for airplanes to a minimum by unloading passengers and baggage, cleaning and refueling, and loading passengers, baggage, and catering as quickly as possible. Precious seconds wasted in the refueling process, for example, can cause delays, which in turn cost money. Delays and associated costs are practically inevitable when organizations use antiquated paper-based systems — for instance, an unexpected gate change could leave refueling crew members scrambling to figure out where they need to be.

To keep up with this type of fast-paced environment, Shell Aviation developed a mobile cloud-based application to automate the ticketing process for airplane refueling operators. The SkyPad app, built on SAP Cloud Platform, is used at the airport apron — that is, the location where loading, boarding, and refueling happens — to digitize end-to-end operations and transfer data in real time between the back-end systems and airport operations. Through SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, the app handles stock and tank farm management, reconciliation and reporting to local bodies, and staff rostering, as well as integration with airlines, the e-commerce platform, static and dynamic flight schedules, and multi-fuel provider delivery systems. In short, by leveraging the app on a tablet, the daily work of the airport refueling operator is streamlined, more efficient, and less error prone. Shell Aviation reports that the SkyPad app has reduced refueling transaction times by approximately 13.3 hours per day per airport.

Many organizations still have paper-driven processes that hamper efficiency and slow the business, reducing productivity, profitability, and employee and customer satisfaction. Eliminating paper-based processes is a no-brainer in a digital economy.

Imagination Plus Integration Equals Innovation

Companies looking to improve business processes and wring more value out of their IT investments can turn to integration technology that simplifies development while delivering new capabilities. Organizations of all sizes, industries, and regions can combine imagination with integration — and bring innovation and real value to the company — by leveraging integration technology to:

  • Transform their business with fast, focused projects that deliver high value and low total cost of ownership
  • Digitize paper-based processes, reducing costs and increasing efficiency
  • Create cross-system processes that span multi-vendor hybrid landscapes
  • Develop new sales channels and new ways to reach customers directly
  • Gain real-time insight into their business, increasing agility and improving outcomes
  • Deliver self-service capabilities to customers, freeing employees for more productive activities

This article shares a few — among many — stories about how implementing a Digital Integration Hub, an API-first integration strategy, and a data-centric mindset have helped creative teams overcome perceived limitations and deliver innovative business process improvements, increased customer satisfaction, and new revenue sources to their respective businesses. At the nuts-and-bolts level, this is the essence of digital transformation.

This is just one way that the game is changing for IT organizations willing to embrace a new way of delivering value to the business. The possibilities are endless and evolving, and business success is waiting just down the road. To get in the game and find ways you can apply imagination plus integration in your environment to field a winning team of new business services, visit here.



Keith Grayson

Keith Grayson is a Senior Director of Product Management at SAP, responsible for go-to-market and evangelism of SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite. Keith has been with SAP for 12 years; before joining SAP, he had been working in the technology industry for 19 years for both large companies and startups.

Paul Medaille

Paul Medaille has more than 20 years of experience working with SAP technology as an educator, consultant, solution manager, and product manager. He joined the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite product management team in November of 2019.

Note: Divya Mary, Product Manager of SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite at SAP, contributed many of the ideas developed in this article.



Video: How to Address Third Party Data Requirements in SAP Central Finance

Examine the complexities of building a solution for Central Finance and access expert advice for enabling agile, intelligent finance operations.

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White Paper: Gaining Control in a Turbulent World

Learn how companies looking to develop more aligned and innovative business practices can access key insights across the Value Chain using cross-process analytics.

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White Paper: Data Integration Considerations for SAP S/4HANA Central Finance

Dive deeper into the key requirements, challenges, and opportunities surrounding the journey to SAP S/4HANA Central Finance.

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Webinar: The Journey to Standardizing and Improving your Financial Uploading Processes

Seeking new strategies to automate and streamline everyday financial data entry tasks?  Hear how Newell Brands and Kellogg’s leverage Excel to improve data entry processes. Find other insightful content from Magnitude on their Vendor Showcase.  … This content is available to SAPinsider Members(complimentary). Please click below to log in or create an account Login Now...

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