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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

This is Article 1 in a three-part blog series by M. Nadia Vincent (see bio below) on "How to Optimize Your SAP S/4HANA Cloud Investment ROI With Executive Data Management & Governance."


Data is referred to as the new gold in today's business world. However, data has always been of strategic importance. In the digital age, we have more data than ever from countless sources and various formats. The most valuable data is referred to as intelligence. Capturing, processing, and converting data into strategic business intelligence and competitive assets require further investment in the latest digital tools, strategic leadership, and business innovation. Moving data to the cloud is an excellent investment and primer for gaining digital intelligence, as the cloud is the backbone for digital transformation.

As a senior technology Management Advisor with over two decades of hands-on corporate experience, I know and see the wonders of technology and its limitations. One of an organization's most common mistakes in transforming businesses for the digital age is relying too much on technology to achieve the business vision. Investing in technology without investing in strategy and leadership delays results and ROI.

Fortunately, today's SAP, through SAP S/4HANA, delivers more than cloud storage – it is an intelligent digital ecosystem that allows businesses to take advantage of the digital age intelligence to optimize their data and achieve audacious goals. As a business leader, it is up to you to develop your business strategy and organizational leadership to make the best of the SAP S/4HANA ecosystem.

Your business digital strategy is a prerequisite to your data strategy, and conversely, your data strategy is a subset of your business digital strategy. The business strategy englobes strategic information such as the business vision, direction, goals, roadmap to goal achievement, priorities, and expected outcomes. As data is one of the main assets used to achieve business goals, the data strategy will dictate how data should be used, processed, stored, analyzed, categorized, protected, transferred, shared, and transformed into more valuable output.

Why would you want a data strategy, and what can you expect the business to achieve from its data investment?

Seven main goals to achieve with a winning digital and data management strategy, along with SAP S/4 HANNA

  1. Business growth & expansion

  2. Improved business performance and productivity

  3. Business innovation (new solutions and/or improved ones)

  4. Improved efficiency & quality (speed, delivery, value, quantity)

  5. Better risk management and predictability (data-driven decision making)

  6. Customer retention and growth (Improved or outstanding customer experience)

  7. Sustainability (achieving digital maturity, eco-friendliness, agility, and future change adaptability)

Cloud investment is not just a technology decision but a business investment; the ROI for the business is what matters.


The Digital Transformation Success Formula

My formula for digital transformation, as described in my digital transformation leadership book "Leveraging Digital Transformation," is:

Digital transformation = BTxTTxIT / F

BT= Business Transformation

TT= Technology Transformation

IT= Individual transformation

F= Fear

Business transformation - times technology transformation - times individual transformation - divided by fear.


Data transformation is a subset of digital transformation. It follows the same trajectory, transforming your business strategy, transforming the technology to harness the data, upskilling your employees regarding data, and decreasing the fear your employees will face in their functions.

Before migrating to the cloud or starting the process of cloud implementation, it is crucial to develop your data strategy. There are questions to be answered, and they are primarily business related:

  • What are your business goals for the next one to five years?

  • What are the main business priorities and timelines?

  • What is the size of your organization?

  • What is the size of your market and budget?

  • Are there existing technology solutions and applications available to you?

  • What volume of data will you need to process, and at what times?

  • Is there a business and technical architecture?

  • What are the security regulations (including the ones specifically for your industry) regarding data?

Using the answers to the above questions, a cloud specialist will guide the leadership team in making the best infrastructure choices for you and your organization.

It is then time to work on your data strategy. Let's use my digital transformation success formula to optimize your data strategy.



Data transformation in business units and their processes

  • What are your different business units?

  • What are the business processes for each business unit or across units?

  • The silo model has ceased to be useful within the digital age, as information must flow between business units. How are your business units connected, and what is the dependency between business units?

Consider your answers to these questions as it pertains to the below items:

  • Data must be available and accessible across the business unit for necessary business intelligence.

  • Data distribution flow across the organizational units

  • Process and data optimization

  • Data lifecycle in processes

  • Data categorizing, naming, and conventions



Consider possible digital technologies and tools of the trade for business data transformation

  • What is your business and technology architecture – data sharing between business and technology systems and their access control?

  • Which other technologies will be necessary to analyze, categorize, secure, and process a high volume of data in peak times and at an acceptable speed?

  • What are the technology resources required to achieve the business goals?

  • What investment is needed in the proper digital data technology (cloud, analytics, security)?



Your data governance and leadership

  • This refers to data ownership, governance, skills, and roles.

  • An official data governance guidelines document is necessary, outlining the skills, functions, and responsibilities of everyone involved (architect, security, Analyst, leaders, rules). We will cover more insights into data governance in the following article of this series.


  1. FEAR

Decrease fear by developing an agile and innovative organization with a data-driven culture. 

Create an agile organization: Shift the organizational mindset to transform the culture to allow continuous education, data governance adoption, and data strategy exposure. Promote a culture of innovation and continuous learning so that data strategy and governance can be fundamental to how business is done day-to-day - this is the secret to future agility and sustainability.

The SAP S/4HANA Cloud offering is a solution that helps organizations simplify their business transformation to become flexible, agile, and responsive. It offers a holistic approach that aligns with my digital transformation success formula to create an ecosystem for the development of intelligent enterprises.


How A Client Pivoted from Low Sales to Market Disruption During the COVID-19 Crisis Thanks to Data Intelligence

A remarkable client of mine had increased its customer base internationally when people were buying less due to the Covid-19 crisis. They launched two new solutions that nearly disrupted their market when people were not spending much. This client also increased the value of their existing customer base. This development was possible because we listened to insights within their data, got to know their clients, and understood the market better – all to make better strategic decisions.

With my strategic innovation guidance, they created these solutions for a fraction of the original cost. As a result, this client faced fewer risks in the approach to their solutions' innovation and gained market buy-in - possible because of a strategic data-driven approach.

Access to their data and tools within the SAP S/4 Hanna ecosystem was imperative to reach this result. It allowed us to better question, observe and understand their data and advise them accordingly. They would have likely taken the defensive approach most of their competitors took.

Data is the essence of the digital age. Investing in data requires us to invest not just in the cloud but also in a data ecosystem that allows us to transform and maximize the business potential. Thankfully, SAP proposes an outstanding cloud ecosystem with some of the most advanced digital technologies for various industries.

Moving to the cloud is not just a goal to achieve and check off a list - it's a journey towards the future of your business. SAP offers customers the products and tools needed for successful transformation and innovation, both now and into the future.

SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) allows shared data and insights, AI-powered experiences, partner solutions, and customer-led customizations – serving as the open, unified, business-centric data and development platform for the entire SAP ecosystem. They also offer a portfolio of sustainability solutions in the cloud.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud's built-in innovation allows business decisions to be made faster (in attended and unattended modes). And SAP's intelligent robotic process automation (RPA) and data-driven machine learning (ML) functions optimize business performance.

In conclusion, adopting SAP S/4HANA cloud computing is not a matter of data storage and processing but building your organization's backbone of data transformation and an ecosystem for digital maturity and future innovation. Data transformation requires technology, strategy, and leadership. Creating a business ecosystem in the cloud allows you to take advantage of the latest and most innovative digital technologies, notably artificial intelligence (SAP's intelligent robotic process automation (RPA) and data-driven machine learning (ML)) and virtual reality for leveraging digital transformation. Your organization can capture, process, and turn data into competitive intelligence to achieve more meaningful business goals.


For further reading and more information, check out:


The author

M. Nadia Vincent, MBA

Digital Transformation, AI & Innovation Executive Advisor


Marie Nadia Vincent, MBA, is a Digital Transformation Executive Advisor, Author and Senior Technology Management Consultant specialized in digital transformation leadership, artificial intelligence adoption, and strategic business innovation. She is ranked in the Top 10 Global Thought Leaders in Digital Transformation, AI, Innovation, Business Continuity and, Leadership, by Thinkers 360.

​She has over two decades of international experience leading and implementing digital transformation for Fortune and large organizations; and also coaching smaller business executives internationally and principally in Europe and North America. She is the author of Leveraging Digital Transformation, a digital transformation leadership book.

​​Nadia has led and implemented many businesses and IT transformation initiatives in industries such as international banking, trading & settlement, financial services, energy distribution, electronic payments, insurance, European airline traffic control, retail market, petrol distribution, and the European Commission Government, and more.

Nadia holds two executive certificates from MIT SLOAN School of Management in Management & Leadership, and Strategy & Innovation, as well an MBA in Global Technology Management, a Business Management Bachelor and an Associate of Applied Science in Informatics. She speaks English, French, and Spanish, and consults worldwide.