From our previous articles about Situation Handling (link), we know that Situation in SAP S/4HANA (Cloud) helps increase the quality of the business processes by signaling exceptional circumstances and by providing heads-up information.
This article is going to talk about the extended service called – ‘Intelligent Situation Automation’ that runs on SCP and consists of three applications – Situation Dashboard, Analyze Situations, and Manage Situation Automation. This is a platform where situations that have occurred can be analyzed and executed automatically. This means a manifold increase in the efficiency of the respective business process. Instead of resolving issues manually, there’s an automated process that’ll save time and effort on repetitive tasks.
Let’s take a look at a sample scenario for Physical Inventory Monitoring
A retail business needs to take stock of its materials from time to time to tally its inventory system records with what’s in the warehouse. When there’s a mismatch in the stock, the inventory manager can decide on a recount or to post the mismatch, depending on the discrepancy.
Over a period of time, these posted mismatches or recounts can be analyzed, and different patterns may emerge. These patterns could show a regular short supply of a particular material from a vendor or of a high-value product in the warehouse.
So, the automation framework allows for setting a consequent action on a respective pattern.
Image 1: Scenario of how our applications help a warehouse manager to resolve a situation, and, over a period of time, how a configuration expert analyses these situations.
A step back from the worldview…
Let’s stop for a moment and take a look at the shortcomings of existing automation examples in today’s market.
We have a huge range of voice-enabled home pods and phones unable to pick up all our commands, robots in manufacturing lines unable to perform end-to-end assembly, and irrelevant recommendations and notifications supposedly based on our browsing actions.
A lot of algorithms are at play. We constantly see that human intervention and decisions play a vital role in fulfilling the AI experience.
This is where an aspect of a ‘designed experience’ for successful use of products comes in. Borrowing from Lars Berntzen Arholm (link here) some of the driving principles of user experience to validate how we’ve tried to establish a homogeneous trustable product.
Transparency - The product should tell the user how the system works.
Reasoning for decision making/ Predictability - The product needs to help users predict what it will do ahead of time.
Adaptability - The product should be able to adapt to users’ needs.
Let’s move towards understanding how Intelligent Situation Automation applications adhere to these design principles.
Does the system give access to all the information? Do our users see the whole pipeline of situations? Do they see all pending or resolved situations?
With an array of cards, the Situation Dashboard provides our users with an overview of all the situations in the system.
Check the volume of situations occurring at different times of the year.
Compare the time saved by automating the handling of situations.
See the open situations and what gets in the way of resolving them.
Monitor and analyze a specific situation.
Check where automation didn’t work.
Image 2: Situation Dashboard Application showcasing cards: Situation Volume, Time Saved Due to Automation, Status Overview, Open Instances Overview Page Cards are part of SAP Fiori UI elements link here
Reasoning for Decision-making
Is the system giving the user enough information for a suggestion? How can the user trust the system’s proposal?
On the Situation Dashboard, the user gets an ‘Automation Scope’ card. This card tells them approximately how many times a situation was solved manually. The user is intrigued and wants to make rules to automize the situations with all the information at hand.
When a user is on the Situation Instance Page on the Dashboard, they get a detailed timeline of the Situation resolution flow from its OPEN state to its RESOLVED state, detailing all the activities and operations that take place at every step.
Image 3: Analyze Situations Application with the detail page displaying the situation resolution flow
How does the user make rules for the patterns? What kind of flexibility does the system provide towards customized actions?
Every situation is resolved based on manual user interaction. The ‘Manage Situation Automation’ app helps users maintain configurations for automating situations. Users can maintain rules quickly and efficiently. They can compare and edit rules and add custom APIs on the detail page with an efficient rule builder to change and adapt the IF and THEN conditions.
Image 4: The Manage Situation Automation app with the list of rules created for different types of situations and the detail page on the right-hand side with the actual rule and its conditions.
The serviceability of automation or, for that matter, any new technological advancement is based on a foundation of transparency and trust. People need to be in control even when the system runs automatically. That’s why the Intelligent Situation Automation landscape encourages our users to automate.
These apps are currently in the beta version and we are working continuously on enhancing the product towards GA.