It’s the time of year to look at 2018 through the rearview mirror and reflect on both the challenges and successes we’ve all experienced. Where did we start, how far did we come, and where do we go from here? In the world of SAP users, that’ll mean looking back at the technology predictions for 2018 and what those meant for our businesses.

Many analysts predicted a mass migration to the cloud. They thought we would all be receiving real-time contextual insights because the cloud would help us collect, analyze, and use data in meaningful ways.

In a five-part series last year, SAP talked to a number of leading experts, academics, and influencers in the tech industry and came up with a list of “2018 Game-Changers.” Some of the common threads in this list included the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies. Others focused on interface simplification and providing “everything as a service” applications.

The consensus, however, revolved around digital transformations that worked toward an intelligent enterprise.

How Smart Was Your Enterprise?

SAP defines the term “intelligent enterprise” as one that effectively uses its data assets to achieve its desired outcomes faster and with less risk. It identifies four key enablers to the intelligent enterprise as: customer-centricity, data that drives differentiation, digital processes, and a cloud-first approach.

At the core of any intelligent enterprise is a sophisticated ERP system. Enter SAP S/4HANA. Some of the most popular articles on ASUG News in 2018 were articles that focused on SAP S/4HANA. One of those articles highlighted that nearly 1,500 customers had gone live with SAP S/4HANA by the end of 2017. Though we don’t have an update on how many customers have gone live since then, we do know that by the end of Q3 of this year, another 1,500 customers had purchased SAP S/4HANA licenses.

Many of the businesses we spoke with have recognized that to have an intelligent enterprise, you need an intelligent core. Hunter Douglas, a manufacturer of window coverings and architectural products, implemented SAP S/4HANA in March of this year to help reduce complexity in its organization’s processes.

But being an intelligent enterprise requires more than just simplifying processes.

Know Thy Data

As an intelligent ERP, SAP S/4HANA runs on an in-memory database that makes it possible to process large volumes of operational and transactional data in real time. By leveraging in-memory data processing capabilities, business users can integrate intelligent technologies to detect patterns, predict outcomes, and suggest actions to drive better business decisions.

Brian T. Kalish, principal and founder at Kalish Consulting, noted in part 2 of the SAP 2018 Game Changer series: “The advances in technologies over the last 20 years are going to continue to improve and permit us to be efficient at acquiring, converting, and leveraging data to make better, faster decisions to permit organizations to thrive. Those that embrace change are going to be the ones to succeed.”

Embracing that change was on the minds of many of you who visited ASUG News to read about a smorgasbord of SAP S/4HANA use cases. The article highlighted SAP S/4HANA’s suitability for solving a variety of business challenges, and readers were clearly interested in learning more.

Learn More and Grow from It

In part 1 of SAP’s Game Changer series, Thorsten Leiduck, global VP ecosystem, SAP Cloud Platform go-to-market said, “Artificial intelligence and machine learning will become mainstream in business in 2018.”

In part 5, Jeroen Kusters, senior manager of Deloitte’s supply chain management technology practice added, “In 2016 and 2017, a lot of these concepts data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning were heavily hyped. In 2018, companies will move past that hype to developing frameworks to unlock the value that is really behind those techniques. To see how those techniques can really help them improve their processes to generate value for the organization and for their shareholders. This is the tipping point where we’re going to see a lot of new data science-driven applications.”

Under Armour did just that when it first purchased many of the major players in the fitness tracking app market, and then connected those apps to the shoes it was selling to create a treasure trove of IoT data. This resulted in a shoe built with collected knowledge gained from previous shoes.

Linking Meaningful Data to Action

Many of you were interested in learning how SAP S/4HANA works with artificial intelligence, as well as learning more about the benefits of machine learning. Although artificial intelligence and machine learning are not new concepts, they have resurfaced as emerging technologies because of faster and more efficient ways of managing data and enhanced processing power. ASUG News contributor Adrian Bridgwater noted that, “The bottom line is, users will only move to chatbots, AI, and machine-learning powered intelligent software agents if they are easier, faster, more efficient, more intuitive, and ultimately more productive than the way we have done things in the past.”

In July of this year, ASUG News published an article about real-world examples of machine learning in SAP Leonardo. This was one of the most popular articles of the year. You learned how brands such as Adidas, Jimmy Dean, BASF, and Cott Corporation were integrating these technologies within their ERP systems and adding to their company’s bottom line.

How Do We Plan for 2019?

For a business, the bottom line is almost always the driving force behind all decisions. The path to it, however, has changed with technology. Whereas in the past, business decisions were made behind closed doors in a boardroom, today they are mostly driven by direct input from customers. Advances in technology, combined with growth in data, have paved the path for a customer-centric business approach.

SAP’s customer experience suite SAP C/4HANA made its debut at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW. Most readers were eager to know what they can expect from it. Designed to help users deliver a seamlessly connected customer experience, SAP C/4HANA is setting the groundwork to disrupt and modernize the customer relationship management (CRM) market. Customer-centricity, after all, is one of the four pillars of an intelligent enterprise.

The Future Road Map for SAP Customers

That brings us to what to expect in 2019. According to SAP, “delivering on digital customer experience faster and better,” should be one of your New Year’s resolutions. We believe you’re already thinking about this, considering another popular article in 2018 was about understanding intelligent data and how to apply it to your business.

The new year will likely be filled with advancements in technology designed to address business needs and consumer wants. Whatever paths you decide to take, ASUG News will be on the road with you. We wish you and your organizations a happy and prosperous new year!

Based on our data, and in no particular order, here are ten of the most popular ASUG News articles in 2018: