Given recent talks at the ASUG Business Technology Platform (BTP) Alliance and ASUG Executive Exchange Summit, Karthik Neelamegam balances his everyday job as Senior Director, Enterprise Architecture, with opportunities to share updates on Florida Crystals’ SAP Business Technology Platform progress.
Florida Crystals is part of American Sugar Refining (ASR Group) with farm-to-table global operations in sugarcane farming, milling, and refining, as well as manufacturing, packaging, and distribution. It is known for Domino Sugar products and other brands.
ASR Group first moved onto SAP R/3 in 1995 and lists moves to S/4HANA finance in 2015; S/4HANA public cloud in 2017; and S/4HANA 2020 this year among its accomplishments. ASR Group also uses SAP Ariba, SAP Analytics Cloud, SuccessFactors, and Concur among several third-party SaaS applications in its enterprise architecture.
In the interview below, Neelamegam recaps what prompted Florida Crystals to explore and implement SAP BTP, including some of the challenges and early results. The interview is an edited version of an email-based conversation.
Question: What were the organization’s initial impressions and why the interest in SAP BTP?
Answer: Our initial impression was it appeared to be a rebranding of existing services. But the more we learned about its capabilities and the ongoing additional service offerings that are part of BTP, the more excited we became about it.
Q: What were the business drivers for BTP?
A: We wanted greater agility and support for the inter-dependent ecosystem. We saw greater product maturity and, of course, the opportunity for more effective cost management.
Q: What were the technology drivers for change?
A: We saw the opportunity for a greater variety of services and a system that supports other tools and technologies. For instance, we can run SAP Data Intelligence and many different apps on docker containers. Here are some notable services we are currently using: SAP HANA Cloud DB, SAP Document Management Service, SAP Launchpad, SAP Mobile Services, SAP Data Intelligence, SAP Integration Suite, and SAP API Management.
Q: What were the business case key factors?
A: Originally the business case was built around moving away from subscription licensing model into consumption based. The risk was described in terms of shelfware.
Q: What stakeholders were involved in the BTP decision-making?
A: The VP Strategy & Architecture, IT Tower Leads, the CIO, and the controller.
Q: What factors played into leadership buy-in?
A: BTP capabilities, cost, and target state architecture played a key role in decision-making and getting buy-in. In my opinion, these are foundational capabilities for the enterprise, like Outlook, MS Office, and Networking, etc., so other business functions’ buy-in are not that critical so long we don’t disrupt existing services and continue to offer more services in a more rapid manner. Again, this is based on how your operating model is designed.
Q: Are there particular challenges and opportunities with BTP?
A: Some of the key capabilities like Integration suite development operations from BTP are not mature as production-grade products. This maturity is critical for clients to use BTP and grow otherwise their customers lose trust.
Q: Did your sustainability strategy and goals relate to this project?
A: Not really at this time, but I see quite bit of potential as our company goes ahead with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Sustainability initiatives. I have not found a better use case yet, but I believe, based on ASUG Executive Exchange presentation, we could leverage SAP to support our organization’s sustainability goals.
Q: What is the current state of implementation?
A: We have about 20+ services in production. Notable ones are SAP Integration Suite, SAP Data Intelligence, and SAP HANA DB.
Q: What are the initial results/benefits? What are the projected longer-term benefits and results?
A: We have successfully moved 70% of all our on-premise-based interfaces running on PI (SAP Process Integration), MII (SAP Manufacturing Integration Intelligence), and BOBJ (SAP Business Objects Business Intelligence), etc.