SAP invented a completely reimagined database—SAP HANA. It was revolutionary and highly capable: in-memory, with massively parallel processing and columnar storage. SAP HANA also offered many other power features that could enable an application. Exploiting HANA, SAP re-imagined the core enterprise applications suite and then, SAP S/4HANA was invented.
SAP S/4HANA is the new enterprise suite from SAP and is also known as the new digital core platform. The new digital core now integrates Extended Warehouse Management, Transport Management, Product Life Cycle Management, and many such erstwhile independent applications. The core has predictive and analytical tools for live decision support. It enables the user to further build analytical apps using the core and the platform. This, in many cases, eliminates the need for a separate Business Warehouse. When required, it can exist on the same tenant, and the extended functionality can be used as needed with “pick and choose” licenses. The end result is a hugely simplified landscape with lowered TCO and tremendous agility.
SAP HANA – The Enabler
SAP HANA is an in-memory database. Taking advantage of ever declining memory prices and ever increasing processor speeds, SAP HANA deploys massive parallel processing. The hardware technology innovations and SAP SW technology innovations impart SAP HANA its many capabilities.
Quite essentially, the SAP HANA platform is an extremely powerful platform that is not just the database. The platform literally can process any format of data—be it spatial or free unstructured text. As a platform, it has capabilities and functional libraries to do justice to predictive and analytical processing; and all of that, at a speed that makes real-time decision making a reality for businesses.
SAP S/4HANA is the integrated and enhanced core built around SAP HANA DB.
When SAP rolled out the first on-premise edition SAP S/4HANA 1511 of the new digital core, there were limited scope items implemented. As SAP released newer editions, the scope was expanded to include more functionality. An extensive scope ensures SAP S/4HANA can take care of most business processes required in the digital core.
The digital core was made more inclusive in its content and more integrated with the digital world with each new release. The story of S/4HANA digital core evolution is summarized below.
With the core, integration is now simpler and easier. As an example, it is now easier to develop smart apps based on AI and machine learning, thanks to the easy integration of SAP S/4HANA and SAP Leonardo.
So as it stands, at the time of writing this blog, the following functionalities or applications that were outside the core ERP solution are now largely or fully a part of the enhanced SAP S/4HANA Digital Core:
- Extended Warehouse Management
- Transportation Management
- Service Core (CRM Add-on)
- Product Life Cycle Management
- Embedded BW for BPC
- Significant functionalities from APO like PPDS
In addition to the benefits of having the above applications available in the digital core, SAP has also enhanced the core by including many functionalities that were hitherto limited to industry specific versions only. Now, SAP enables industry specific scope items or business processes to run along with the digital core. This has dual advantages – first of all, it is integrated and you need not install it separately. Secondly, it makes processes from different industries available in the same instance – facilitating the selection of multiple functionalities in this fast-changing world where the boundary lines between industries are getting thinner by the day. Some examples of industry solution processes moving into the core are:
- Discrete Industries and Mill Products
- Fashion & Retail (Wholesale Fashion enablement, Merchandise management, and so on)
- Catch Weight Management (Consumer products, especially Food Processing)
Digital Core Enhancements
Not only is the core now more integrated, but it also has many enhancements to the functionalities that existed in ERP. These enhancements provide customers with significant business benefits. There are great many enhancements, and we mention just a few of them below:
- Procurement – Machine learning for contract consumption
- Procurement – Centralized purchase requisitions through hub deployment
- Finance – Machine learning with integration to SAP Cash Application
- Manufacturing – Advanced Variant Configuration
- Commodity management – Extended pricing with the commodity pricing engine
- Asset Management – Enhanced incident management and analytics
As previously mentioned, what I listed above are just a few examples and the total list of enhancements is quite elaborate.
The Supply Chain Control Tower: Integration + Enhancement = Complete Package
With a clear road map of further developments and many advantages of an integrated and enhanced core, this is a good time for your business to evaluate moving to SAP S/4HANA as a serious option. With the kind of improvements it can bring to your business, the way it can empower your users, the particularly good improvements in productivity, and the measurable benefits in KPIs, SAP S/4HANA is the way forward to lead your company to compete well in the digital era.
Author: Rajesh Bhayani & Sanjay Kotekar
About Rajesh Bhayani
Rajesh Bhayani is a Senior Consultant at Knack Systems with over 30 years of global experience in SAP Consulting, Procurement, Production Planning, and Training functions across Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, and EPC companies of world stature. He has handled key roles as Senior Consultant (SAP S/4HANA Project Leader), General Manager-Procurement, Group Procurement Manager, Head of Procurement & Materials Management, and Senior General Manager. Rajesh is proficient in evaluating functional demands and translating them into a business model. He has profound knowledge of all peripheral SAP Solutions & extensions and SAP S/4HANA POC system implementations. He is a Six Sigma Black Belt holder and ISO Internal auditor, skilled in re-engineering, process improvement, system implementation, and streamlining initiatives related to supply chain, general management, and procurement functions.
About Sanjay Kotekar
Sanjay is a Senior Consultant at Knack Systems with 15+ years of SAP experience, working in different industries. He is an SAP Certified Application Associate in S/4HANA Sales and has extensive consulting experience in implementation, pre-sales, and support. Sanjay holds an MBA in Marketing from Karnatak University and a BE in Mechanical Engineering from Karnataka University, Dharwad.