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The launch of SAP S/4HANA this week is a historic moment for SAP and all our customers and partners. As we’ve stated, our vision is to help customers run simple in a digital, networked yet complex world. To meet this vision, we are redefining how enterprise software creates business value with massive simplifications and innovations delivered in the next generation business suite.

The new suite is called ‘SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA’ or ‘SAP S/4HANA’. This is a new product and is SAP’s biggest innovation since SAP R/3.  SAP S/4HANA is fully built on the most advanced in-memory platform - SAP HANA - and is designed with the most modern user experience - SAP Fiori. Thanks to 40 plus years of experience, SAP S/4HANA is capable of mastering complex industry challenges in a completely reimagined business suite.

Sounds good, but many of our customers are asking: how exactly does a Suite enterprise of today become an SAP S/4HANA enterprise of tomorrow? Here are the three key questions to consider.

How much effort will it take IT and the business to make the transition?

With over 40 years of expertise in defining the blueprint for the enterprise business software market, SAP has taken its significant industry and line of business knowhow and refactored this pedigree into creating a new business suite-core called SAP S/4HANA. Although this is a new product, customers will be able to migrate to this fantastic new foundation in a non-disruptive manner; in fact, as design goal we elected to make migrations to SAP S/4HANA as non-intrusive as possible. For example, the new product simplifies the abstraction of past transactional semantics and provides a comparability layer of "equally named views" while at the same time creating a substantially simplified physical data model.

So let me address the question: what makes SAP S/4HANA a new product? It’s new because it is the next generation business suite built on SAP HANA for SAP HANA with a new code line, new user experience, new data model and new data storage options. The level of simplification and innovation it enables is only possible on HANA.

Moving to SAP S/4HANA for a typical existing SAP ERP 6.0 customer will require a database migration from any database to SAP HANA, combined with a move to the latest enhancement package and the deployment of the exchange innovation, meaning the current code is replaced by the new one. Moving to SAP S/4HANA for an existing SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA will be even faster as only the deployment of the exchange innovation is required where current code is replaced with the new one.

How to plan for a successful transition?

A successful transition will take an incremental approach. First, a feasible technical migration will move you into SAP S/4HANA as a foundation to consume key innovations, and then you can innovate on top of re-invented core processes.

Partners and SAP will support customers in their journey with pre-defined migration, system conversion as well in the cloud, and deployment packages for quicker time to value.  A net new implementation of an SAP S/4HANA system is even simpler thanks to guided configuration and easy onboarding from the discovery of the solution via cloud trials to the deployment with pre-configured best practices

How will it make my business more innovative?

Enterprises of all sizes, in all industries are grappling with the new technology trends such as the Cloud, big data and the IoT that are shaping the face of business. So how will SAP S/4HANA help a business remain competitive?

The best example is SAP Simple Finance which marks the first step in our SAP S/4HANA roadmap. One of the best proof points is SAP’s own move to Simple Finance which took only 51 days in spite of the same level of complexity faced by most of our customers. Simple Finance helps drive massive IT simplification with an architecture that removes replications and aggregates and ensures there are no redundancies. It provides one common view of all information across finance to ensure enterprise-wide consistency, and combines prediction, simulation and analysis to identify the best strategic business options. Whereas traditionally an enterprise may require about 15 days to close a quarter, with Simple Finance it can be done in nine or less, creating plenty of time for simulations and predictive exercises which in turn completely changes the way business is done.

Optimized supply chain processes such sales, manufacturing and inventory management are all key elements within the IoT, and collaboration between businesses and their suppliers are at the core of a networked economy. SAP S/4HANA is natively connected to the internet of things and business networks for real-time collaboration (machine-to-machine, Ariba Network, Concur Network), and it is natively engineered for providing choice of deployment either on cloud, on premise, or in a hybrid model.

In an increasingly complex world, SAP S/4HANA is the great simplifier and the best technology for SAP’s vision of the perfect enterprise.

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