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As we go through the positioning and messaging process for SAP Financials OnDemand (our latest addition to the SAP Cloud portfolio), I am reminded of the big innovation wave of the 90’s when Michael Hammer’s Business Process Engineering book took the industry by storm, and created a huge wave of demand around transformation projects as well as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which made SAP the market leader we are today.

I think we are just at the beginning of a new, huge, very similar innovation wave for financial software (the perfect storm of innovation if you will), because of the convergence of a lot of concurrent technology trends, including In-Memory, Analytics, Big Data, Cloud, Mobile and Social.

"Yeah, Yeah", you're thinking, "here we go again with a marketeer yakking away about innovation .. we've heard it all before ..."

Really? Let me lay out my thought process here ...

  • The ERP systems of the 90’s were built around transactions, not decision-making or analytics , leading to lot of pain of transformation and integration
  • They were built for transparency and governance/compliance, not for collaboration and instant action, leading to frustration and delays
  • They were built for finance experts, not for everyone in your company, leading to duplication and losses in translation

The world has moved on. Business processes have moved on. People’s work style has moved on. Enterprises still need all of the foundational capabilities listed above in their trusted financial backbone (Transactions, Transparency, Governance/Compliance, Financial Excellence) but, more than ever, need to add support for the 21st century style of work as well. Finance has to move out of the boring but essential back-office paradigm of operations and reporting and move into a key position for driving growth and change in enterprises. But how? In comes SAP Financials OnDemand, which is already shipping in its first iteration, and will hit its first refresh in November of 2012. Here is a short overview of the system characteristics which I personally think offer a very interesting case for taking a closer look.

  • Single Source of Truth
    • Reconciled data (true data) along multiple dimensions reflecting the real world in real time
  • Real Real time
    • Based on In-Memory technology, designed for analytics, and doing away with the separation between transactional and analytical data stores
  • Intuitive
    • Designed to be easy to use for anyone in your business, not just the financial experts
  • Mobile
    • Native support for mobile devices including iPad and Windows8, getting the informaton to the people whereever they may be
  • Collaborative
    • Built-in workflows and community support so people can take immediate action
  • Open
    • Embedded process library with open integration links to processes beyond the the scope of the built-in order-to-cash and procure-to-pay scenarios
    • Extensible architecture based on Web-Standards
    • Software Development Kit
  • Extensible
    • Other SAP Cloud Applications easy to "clip on" (SAP Travel OnDemand, SAP Sales OnDemand, etc.)
    • Available Application Connectors for non SAP applications, Payroll, Sourcing, etc.
    • Easy business-driven configuration (Click-to-Adapt technology)
  • Global Compliance
    • Global Accounting Standards (IFRS, US-GAAP, ..)
    • Internal controls built into the processes
    • Localization for multiple languages, currencies, ...
  • Trusted Cloud
    • Cloud Certifications in Germany, US ..
    • Trusted Data Centers around the world
  • SAP Ecosystem
    • 40 years of business process excellence
    • 1000's of partners in global ecosystem

I think if I were a CIO or CFO, I'd take a serious look at this right now. A system built by SAP, that can DRASTICALLY simplify my general ledger landscape and EXPONENTIALLY  increase my speed and flexibility in terms of reporting for everyone in my business?

Does that mean people will throw away their existing financial systems and upgrade to SAP Financials OnDemand over night? Heck no! Of course not. Trillions of € are invested in these systems and they form the backbone of the global economy. That would be like trying to do a heart transplant on a marathon runner  WHILE HE IS IN THE RACE. Impossible. But. What IS possible, is to kick-start a new wave of process engineering, or financials re-engineering, if you will. In a an approach of open co-innovation, where we'd look at your specific business situation, identify the opportunities together, focus on the fast moving areas that need accelerated innovation more than others ... and get it done. I am personally excited to be part of this new wave. I missed the fun and excitement when this happened in the 90's (I was playing with databases and middleware then). But I am not going to miss this one .. actually, I am the Launch Captain for the November refresh.

The Launch is coming. At SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid. Get on board, you don't want to miss this one ...

CHHO, Walldorf, Oct 9, 2012