Moving to S/4HANA? Like leaving home for the first time…

For many companies, the shift from SAP R/3 to S/4HANA must be like leaving home for the first time.

Jonathan Heywood Jonathan Heywood

It fills you with excitement at the challenge and opportunity, and also apprehension at the inevitable disruption to your established ways of working. And the longer you put it off, the greater the pressure from your parents (read “SAP”) to take the leap.

It was the late-1980s when I left home for university – possibly one of the biggest disruptive life-adjustments I’ve faced. I maybe didn’t always get on with my parents and sister, but I knew what I had at home: food just appeared on the table, laundry was magically done, and there was always someone to come to the rescue if things went awry.

So, the step into studenthood in another country, although filled with exciting opportunities, also brought with it a significant shift in things I had taken for granted for so many years, like buying food and making sure I didn’t run out of clean underwear.

I think this is how the shift to S/4HANA feels for many.

54% of organizations are in the process of moving to S/4HANA or have concrete plans, while 24% have already moved.

UG & DSUG Insights

Change your integration strategy

One of the well-established ways of working that needs to change is integration. However, as much as SAP wants its customers to do everything inside the SAP ecosystem, the reality for pretty much everyone is that they will need to integrate other applications with SAP.

Just like I learned during my teenage years to get the most out of life living at home while staying integrated with my family, I’m sure that every SAP customer has already solved its biggest integration challenges over the last 10-20 years. Maybe you use an enterprise service bus (ESB), or SAP’s integration tools (XI or PI) or something you’ve built yourself.

Whichever way you’ve tackled integration in the past, there are several reasons why your move to S/4HANA is the right time to thoroughly rethink your integration strategy:

  • Rapid emergence of APIs
  • Outgrowing your data center
  • Empowering your business with self-service.

These three themes probably didn’t factor in the choice of your current integration solution, but they sure are important today. The question I’m sure you’re asking yourself is: “Our move to S/4HANA is already a massive project. So why should we introduce more risk by changing how we integrate systems?”

Three integration drivers

Let’s look at these integration drivers:

  • Rapid emergence of APIs
    Integration “ain’t what it used to be!” It is no longer just about synchronizing data between applications and databases. It has become a key enabler in an API-centric world known as the “API economy”, making data and business capabilities accessible as building blocks for innovative digital experiences for employees, customers and partners.

98% of IT leaders say that APIs are important for their organization’s operations

Vanson Bourne/Software AG
  • Adoption of cloud
    Up until a few years ago, all the systems you needed to integrate were safely within the walls of your data center. Now, almost every organization is adopting cloud; either tactically or strategically. This means that in no time at all, your integration endpoints will be in all corners of the Internet. In a few years, you might not even have a data center anymore!

87% of organizations run all or part of their integration systems in the cloud.

Vanson Bourne/Software AG
  • Empowering your business with self-service
    With the desire to move ever faster, IT can become a bottleneck when it comes to building new applications. If IT doesn’t adapt and find ways to empower the business with intuitive tools and reusable building blocks, they risk being side-tracked, reducing their influence and increasing the complexity of the landscape they need to manage.

Shortage of talent and reliance on legacy technology cited by CEOs as the top two barriers to innovation.

Chief Executive survey Aug 2021

Is your integration platform ready?

Now look at your current integration solution and ask yourself whether it is truly ready for the future – whether it provides the capabilities you will need in the coming years as SAP moves to the cloud:

  • An API-centric integration platform that allows you to easily and quickly expose data and functions as simple reusable APIs, allowing you to hide the complexities of many business applications’ raw APIs so you can be part of the new API economy.
  • A true hybrid integration platform that allows you to build and deploy integrations in the cloud (private or public), while maintaining seamless connections to your existing on-premises or legacy applications. Whether your systems are in a data center, in the cloud, or anywhere else, you’ll have access to them and the data they contain.
  • A multi-persona integration platform that allows IT to focus on creating secure, easy-to-use building blocks (APIs) that business users or citizen developers can then compose into agile, innovative business applications and process automation. Your reliance on IT will become a partnership with expanded capacity to deliver solutions.

Embrace the opportunity

Just like my leaving home to start student life was a quantum leap into the unknown, moving R/3 to S/4HANA will likely be one of the largest, most disruptive IT projects you can be involved in. There will be a lot of changes, including the need for many new integrations. If you are tempted (like some students) to try and stick with the comforts of the past; taking your dirty laundry home at weekends and picking up a week’s supply of mum’s home-cooked dinners, sooner or later you will realize it is not sustainable – making the change even more difficult.

Instead, embrace the change, seize the opportunity that the shift to S/4HANA brings. Now is the right time to take the plunge.

I hope I have given you a little inspiration to help you rethink how and why you do integration, so you won’t be relying on your mum to do your laundry forever!

Click below to watch the webinar, Migrating to S/4HANA is the time to rethink integration.