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Experience Intelligent ERP with SAP S/4 HANA

SAP continues to invest to support the evolution of AI by improving its core S/4HANA platform. Improvements in machine learning, robotic process automation, situation handling, natural language interaction, and more are some of the areas being improved upon with the ultimate goal of improving SAP S/4HANA’s ability to support the enterprise as an intelligent ERP.

SAP recently provided insights and demos for some intelligent business processes and landscapes with SAP S/4HANA as well as an overview of the underlying architecture based on use cases already delivered across lines of business. These intelligent technologies are supported by a growing portfolio of SAP software solutions that allow for the use of AI in SAP S/4HANA.

Intelligent ERP with SAP S/4HANA

Today’s modern industrial revolution is different from past technological advancements. In the last century, technology led to improved business processes, but also often resulted in redundancies, slowing business agility and limiting data analysis in a way that made it difficult for SAP to attract customers and keep a pace of product quality. Currently, we are experiencing a digital transformation that is rapidly evolving into the present-day intelligent enterprise.  One area that has been changing significantly is around automation.  An example of this is how automation has addressed the reduction of non-value add or low-value repetitive tasks. Another example is the role automation plays in the speed of data analysis not to mention the size of data that can be handled. This has allowed the shift from manual work, to analytical work. These two examples represent just some of the benefits customers can realize by implementing intelligent enterprise in their organizations.

SAP S/4HANA continues to enhance its platform and structure in order to better facilitate digital transformation as an intelligent ERP. The platform is fundamentally supported by 4 elements:

  1. Digital-age user experience: SAP S/4HANA provides digital assistance and natural language processing for increased productivity and ease of use.
  2. Intelligent automation: AI and robotics process automation help eliminate more than half of manual tasks.
  3. New business models: The platform provides the ability for organizations to rapidly design and execute new business models and digital services, based on advanced E2E processes.
  4. E2E analytics and real-time updates: SAP S/4HANA shares context-aware, real-time, predictive insights to improve the speed of decision-making and adjustments.

A recent SAP S/4HANA demo explored some of the tasks performed by a buyer within the procure-to-invoice process. The demo showed the added value from automating tasks within the business processes, which presented a significant amount of time savings on tasks that would otherwise typically require human input. This time savings can be redirected to more productive manual activities such as data analysis, decision making, or process improvements. One example of the application of automation was in assisting a buyer with the repetitive task of reviewing emails and approving purchase requisitions. Purchasers can set up bots with parameters to automatically browse purchase requisitions and process those that fall under normal thresholds, therefore leaving the buyer to focus on requisitions that are outliers. Another process that can be automated is the vendor’s PO confirmation — for instance, bots can be set up to monitor PO confirmations and identify differences on quantity fulfillment or price, review impacts to manufacturing, and even check for alternative suppliers, triggering new purchase orders. These two demonstrate the impact bots can have on a process, which ultimately translates to customer benefits.

With the proper application of AI, any area across an organization can realize benefits. There is a broad range of opportunities for organizations to have more well-established business processes by replacing repetitive tasks with automated bots. As this technology evolves, matures and become more mainstream, we foresee greater adoption and use across all organization.

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Coauthor and contributions by Courtney Loughran