The Intelligent Enterprise: SAP embraces the concept and turns it into a reality
What is an intelligent enterprise?
A lot is said about Intelligent Enterprises but what do they actually mean? The term «Intelligent Enterprise» was introduced by James Brian Quinn in his book Intelligent Enterprise: A Knowledge and Service Based Paradigm for Industry (Free Press, 1992) and it refers to a management approach that applies technology and new service paradigms to the challenge of improving business performance. In his book, James Brian Quinn states that intellect is the primary resource for producing and delivering services and that companies should aim to build their competitive advantage around a deep understanding of highly developed «core competencies» based on knowledge and services rather than on superior products. In other words, he believed that a company becomes an intelligent business only if it achieves sustainable advantage from knowledge and service based activities that leverage intellectual assets which was a paradigm shift from traditional thinking.
After 30 years of coining the concept, SAP has developed a set of products and solutions to provide a technological framework that enables companies to become intelligent enterprises.
The road to SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise
For SAP, intelligent enterprises use advanced technologies and best practices within agile, integrated business processes to operate in an optimal and integrated way. According to SAP, Intelligent Enterprises are, first and foremost, Integrated Enterprises.
In order to help companies in their journey to becoming Intelligent Enterprises, SAP developed a comprehensive roadmap which includes integrating data and processes, creating flexible value chains, innovating with industry best practices, understanding and responding to customers, partners, and employees’ sentiment, and managing environmental impact. The ultimate goal is to grow more resilient, more profitable, and more sustainable.
The holistic integration of data, technology and business processes that SAP ensures, brings significant value to a company. It accelerates the speed of innovation, reduces integration efforts, shortens time to value, reduces operational complexity and enables real-time insights. This holistic approach has already delivered measurable results. The figure shows the new Intelligent Enterprise solution portfolio and how its individual elements come together. It consists of the following components: Enterprise Network, End-to-End Processes (E2E), Experience Management, Intelligent Suite, Industrial Cloud, Sustainability Management, Enterprise Technology Platform and Infrastructure.
The three layers of an Intelligent Enterprise
For SAP, the intelligent enterprise has three tiers: technology, applications and business processes. Becoming an intelligent enterprise requires applying advanced technologies and best practices within agile, integrated business processes. Therefore, a key part of SAP’s strategy is the integration of end-to-end processes, whether they involve SAP, partner or third-party solutions. This complete view of enterprise software, beyond classic ERP, enables the governance of business processes, making them more flexible to business needs and market requirements.
A complete suite of E2E process applications involves several parties from external agents, suppliers, and other companies that work together and shape the business networks using a powerful technology platform with the full capabilities of the cloud architecture. SAP’s RISE strategy is the enabler for the digital transformation of enterprises, helping them to become smart enterprises making use of the full capabilities of the cloud.
One of the fundamental pieces that helps companies embrace the concept of an Intelligent Enterprise, is the SAP Business Technology Platform. SAP’s BTP supports organizations in their digital transformation and their efforts to achieve agility, business value and continuous innovation through Data Management and Analytics, Integration, Extension and Intelligent Technologies.
SAP BTP provides tools for data management and analytics and supports application development and integration of applications within the SAP application portfolio and non-SAP applications. No matter whether the application is in the cloud or on-premise.
The Business Technology Platform has four core pillars and one of them is the use of intelligent technologies. The other components are data management, analytics and application development and integration. With the help of intelligent technologies and tools such as predictive analytics, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation and conversational AI, this intelligence is embedded in business processes and transformed into intelligent processes. These technologies are fully integrated into individual SAP solutions and they are provided in parallel via the SAP Business Technology Platform. The latter variant is advantageous, as the technologies can be integrated into both SAP and non-SAP systems.
But it is not all about technology. Going back to the concept of the Intelligent Enterprise as defined by James Brian Quinn, companies must have better knowledge bases, a more creative response to customers and an unsurpassed management of human and intellectual capital that competitors cannot replicate, i.e. data-driven companies that allow the management of their data and the extraction of valuable information to be leveraged in decision making processes.
NTT DATA and LEAP: generating new revenue streams by upgrading a company’s business processes
At NTT DATA, we embrace the concept of Intelligent Enterprise. Our deep understanding of the technologies used in the process of transforming a company into an Intelligent Enterprise and our extensive experience with all the industries, we bring significant value to our customers. Our LEAP programme, Large Enterprise Acceleration Program (LEAP) is a long-term global initiative that will transform the way NTT DATA engages with its largest SAP customers and help them create new revenue generating engagements now and far into the future.
With more than 100 initiatives, hundreds of accelerators and assets, advisory services, assessments and scores of customer engagement initiatives, NTT DATA brings significant value in building new business processes by leveraging the capabilities of SAP BTP and cloud architecture. Successful experiences in Manufacturing, Banking, Insurance, Consumer Goods, Automotive and other sectors have allowed us to create successful models to help our clients on their way to becoming Intelligent Enterprises.
For example, the Logistics Business Network that manages order fulfilment tracking and related shipment monitoring, integrating sales and purchase order fulfilment processes and connecting with your logistics service providers and carriers to track shipments. Other examples are Invisible Banking where banking customers can offer their financial services directly to their corporate customers embedded in their ERPs (Fiori launchpad), the Smart Inspections, an edge computing solution based on BTP that analyzes recorded video continuously and determines if there are defects in the predetermined elements, or Umbiombu, a platform that makes it possible to control the management of CSR projects and their objectives.
At NTT DATA our goal is to help businesses become an Intelligent Enterprise by leveraging SAP’s advanced technologies and systems. Our strategy begins by designing the roadmap that best fits each organization, understanding which SAP tools and systems are the most appropriate and then guide businesses through their digital transformation. Future-proofing your companies has never been easier.
Head of Global Product Engineering and Innovation
SAP Digital Services Project Leader