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The term “real-time” is becoming real in ways no one ever imagined. Consumers make decisions at lightning speed, sifting through immense amounts of data from multiple devices and sources. Industries morph into new sectors fueled by unrecognizable business models. The latest upstarts are rendered irrelevant at a dizzying pace. Product developers iterate faster to stave off disruption. But what does IT support look like in this new world? This is not just a CIO question. Line-of-business IT budgets are only expanding along with the number of people who rely on cloud-based technologies to get the job done right and just maybe disrupt the market. IT support has to change in sync with real-time operations and processes.

Given the incredibly transformative nature of this next generation of digitization, there is a significant shift in what’s needed around the integration of business and technology. This is how Josh Greenbaum, Principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting (EAC), described the situation facing companies entering the newest stage of digital transformation.

“The partnership between business and IT has always been critical but it’s now absolutely essential,” he said. “For digital transformation to work there has to be up front a very strong business justification. The problem is that everyone knows they have to get digital transformation going, but few know what they need to do or how to begin.”

The emergence of the real-time enterprise represents a fundamental change for operations in a lot of companies. “If you’re running a real-time business monitoring high-value assets you sell to your customers, and they’re depending on you to service them appropriately, it will have a cascading effect if the back office isn’t real-time as well,” said Greenbaum. “Services have to be much more about the continued life cycle of the business process.”

Real-time response to IT support demands

One example of this new level of support is the on-premise edition of SAP Preferred Care. Organizations receive personalized attention from one designated contact point, a customer success manager, who orchestrates a unified approach to quickly resolve incidents. Companies have fast access to product experts, along with Enhanced Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for priority support and guaranteed response times to correct top issues. Customers also receive additional remote services including go-live checks and performance and security optimization. I talked with Michael Rieder, Senior Vice President and, Global Head of Enterprise Support & Premium Engagements at SAP, for his take on SAP’s support model and this expanded edition.

“We’re adding the on-premise edition of SAP Preferred Care to our support portfolio because our customers often have both on-premise and cloud-based applications,” said Rieder. “Just like islands of applications don’t work in the digital world, neither does siloed support, especially in hybrid environments. Systems have to sense and prevent problems before they surface with widespread impact.”

Greenbaum believes extending the same cloud-based support to on-premise applications makes sense. “The cloud gives you the elasticity and the initial building blocks of a real-time enterprise,” he said. “But most companies moving to digital transformation are also going to have a hybrid model, and will need the same level of care and support for real-time with their on-premise applications.”

Speed equals opportunity

Regardless of the industry or department, down-time is anathema. Retailers with a high-touch customer experience and omni-channel fulfillment model need to meet customer demands with precision. Banks cannot afford time lags in booking customer transactions. Manufacturers depend on accurate replenishment, production planning and execution so their factories are operating in sync from customer orders through supply sourcing, product assembly and delivery. All of this digital transformation is disrupting IT support as well. Simply put, there’s no time to waste.

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