The rise of Intelligent Enterprises and the technology required to become one
A significant concern for the business leaders of today is how to keep up with the fast pace of change, especially considering that the COVID19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation by about 5 years. The answer lies in a concept first proposed in 1992 by US professor James Quinn. He first defined the strategy of operating as an Intelligent Enterprise to gain a competitive advantage. Simply put, an Intelligent Enterprise uses the most up to date developments and intellectual assets to drive business improvement.
This approach has become a necessity for organizations operating in a world of AI, VR, IoT and other optimizing and automating technological developments that can act as intellectual assets if organizations know how to properly leverage them. For example, using the cloud to power collaborations increases agility, capacity, speed and competitive performance.
What does it mean to operate as an Intelligent Enterprise?
The digital native reality has long begun and success in such an environment belongs to Intelligent Enterprises. However, intelligence doesn’t develop naturally. It needs to be worked on and actively managed to maximize the benefits. This transformation goes deep, embedding integration, collaboration and creativity in the structures and processes.
The organization operates as a single community from employees to partners to customers in order to drive continuous improvement. It establishes responsive value chains, leveraging the technology of automation and Edge-based intelligence for monitoring, managing and optimizing. Streamlined data flows enable data-led decision-making and end-to-end innovation. Environmental concerns are prioritized in alignment with Environmental Social Governance (ESG). Strategic focus is used to unite and direct the whole organization towards change.
Intelligence powered by technology
To be able to deliver intelligence that creates a competitive advantage, organizations need the right infrastructure. Digital transformation underlies an intellectual transformation. The technological core simultaneously needs to be secure, stable and able to be repurposed for different uses while also being adaptable, agile and flexible to the developing ecosystem. A multilayered architectural approach is best positioned to fulfill these needs. There are 3 main interconnected layers that cover Business Processes, Applications and Technology.
The Business Processes layer creates a complete picture of all the business processes for analysis, re-design, monitoring and optimization, driving efficiency. The Application layer is where the applications needed to complete the business processes are managed, ensuring software is updated and developed to be able to sufficiently handle the complexity of the business. The technology layer enables extensibility and connectivity by supplementing the core processes of applications with integrated emergent technologies like Advanced Analytics.
Intelligent Enterprises that use this approach to their core system will have a variety of capabilities including a modular cloud-based EPR, Intelligent Spend & Business Networks for procurement, and Supply Chain Management that includes AI, end-to-end transparency and real-time insights capabilities. Additionally, Sustainable Business solutions and comprehensive Customer Experience solutions are available.
Securing the foundation for intelligence
At the heart of the business is the Business Core. This is where the most complete version of the truth is held as it houses the Master Data, business rules and core processes for business operations. It constantly needs to be updated to stay in sync with the real-time running of the business. The definitive information in the Business Core covers organizational, people, customer, asset, financial and security matters. This creates a core system of record that can be relied upon which can also interface with other applications, solutions and systems whether remote, distributed or digital native.
Technology optimizes the Business Core to fulfill its main functionality and beyond. No one provides more usable and effective ERP solutions than SAP. After spending decades establishing themselves as a global pioneer, they have opened the door for Intelligent Enterprises to enter the digital native world using SAP S/4HANA. It’s an ERP solution designed to interface with applications such as Ariba and Concur, Success Factors, Qualtrics and SAP Customer Experience, and The Business Network.
The future of SAP S/4HANA is bright as its functionality expands. It can intuitively integrate with intelligent new technologies. SAP UI5 can be utilized to streamline application creation. Smooth integration is possible due to SAP Integration Suite which simplifies application interactions through patterning that requires minimum supervision. It also makes data-led decision-making possible through advanced analytics. That’s just the beginning.
The journey to intelligence
As a guide for organizations implementing SAP S/4HANA, here at NTT DATA we suggest breaking down the journey into 3 stages. First preparation, then adoption and post-adoption, and finally evolution and usage.
Before making changes in the business, particularly the Business Core and system of record, a roadmap should be developed to ensure whole organization mobilization and commitment. The roadmap would seek to define the current status of how the business operates and its priorities, the potential impact of change and therefore a suitable starting point, and the options for change so short and medium term plans can be created collaboratively. Additionally, the roadmap will involve reviewing which approach to take with relevant business leaders and stakeholders so action can be agreed upon.
When actioning the transition from the current status of the business to the future of the business, the process should be smooth, achievable, risk-reductive and non-disruptive. To avoid pitfalls, a holistic approach to change is taken, looking beyond the technology. Whether starting from scratch, building on technology already in use or a mix of the two, we apply the NTT DATA refinement of the SAP Activate Plus toolset and methodologies for efficient project governance and change management.
After the transition, we focus on transformation to ensure the enterprise has updated its working methods and business activities to become more agile, faster-moving, responsive and competitive. With clear goals, strong alignment, appropriate support and the right tools a truly Intelligent Enterprise is established. It’s evident this is the age of Intelligent Enterprises that create a competitive advantage by leveraging intelligent assets to deepen their understanding of their business and operate to a higher standard. With the plethora of intelligent assets available on today’s market, a secure and advanced Business Core is needed as the foundation for integrating emerging technologies. A comprehensive Business Core can be found in SAP S/4HANA and the implementation support of NTT DATA. After all, working with industry leaders helps you to become an industry leader.
Reimund Lips, NTT DATA SAP global offering lead for S/4HANA