We are steadily approaching the one-year anniversary of the announcement and release of RISE with SAP. Throughout 2021, SAP has kept the “business transformation as a service” offering front and center, often speaking about its adoption during quarterly earnings calls.

ASUG has been talking with early adopters of RISE with SAP, getting a sense of their experience with the offering. Recently, we sat down with Sanjay Patel, Group CIO of Tate & Lyle, a food ingredients company based in the United Kingdom. Sanjay discussed the organization’s experience with RISE with SAP.

ASUG: Tell us about Tate & Lyle and the customers you serve.

Sanjay: We have a long heritage. Tate & Lyle is a 160-year-old global food ingredients organization headquartered in the United Kingdom. Through that legacy and constant transformation, we’ve become a global supplier of food and beverage ingredients. Our focus is on lowering sugar, calories, and fat, and adding fiber in food and drink. We are meeting consumer demands through taste, mouthfeel, and other technical capabilities. We service consumers and their changing needs through our own customers, which include global retail and consumer products companies, large and small. We also work with smaller regional providers and players. Our ingredients come mainly from corn, all of which is responsibly sourced. However, lately, we have expanded our portfolio through the acquisition of a tapioca company in Thailand and a stevia company in China.

ASUG: What did Tate & Lyle’s SAP landscape and IT ecosystem look like before you began your RISE with SAP journey?

Sanjay: On the SAP part, we’ve been on an SAP ECC journey for about nine years. Last year, we completed the last of our SAP implementation. As of last year, all of our regions were on a single SAP instance. We are using an SAP ECC on-premise landscape. We have an ecosystem around SAP. We’ve been expanding that based on business capabilities. That includes Salesforce for our sales function and Workday for our HR function. Both of those solutions are cloud-based. We’ve been taking a best-of-the-breed outside of the SAP core. Our infrastructure similarly has been on premises as of last year. We have a very stable IT landscape with single versions of truth for finance, HR, sales, and otherwise.

ASUG: It sounds like Tate & Lyle is migrating to the cloud. Why did you decide to go that route?

Sanjay: There were a couple of reasons. The main trigger was the fact that the company is separating to create two stronger businesses. While my IT landscape has all been converted into one, from a strategic transformation perspective—transformational mergers and acquisitions—we are dividing the company and selling a share of our primary products business.

This will create two standalone businesses—Tate & Lyle, and what we are referring to as “NewCo”—each positioned to focus on its respective strategies and capital allocation priorities:

  • Tate & Lyle—A leading global food and beverage solutions business focused on faster-growing specialty markets
  • NewCo—A leader in plant-based products for the food and industrial markets

In order to make this possible, I now need two IT landscapes. … I have one. Splitting SAP, when I have no spare company codes, is difficult. I would’ve had to clone the physical SAP infrastructure. We chose to take that as an opportunity to move to the cloud. I can keep the company running on-premise and create two cloud environments that I can then make to look like the two new companies going forward.

ASUG: How does RISE with SAP play into this project when you’re splitting the organization’s landscape into two different instances?

Sanjay: Initially, the thinking was that we would split those both into SAP ECC and we’d be put on a cloud infrastructure. In fact, we’d been working with Microsoft and Amazon, and we decided that the SAP infrastructure would go into Microsoft Azure.

When we then started talking to SAP about doing that, because clearly, we’d be migrating SAP, we got to learn a little bit more about RISE with SAP (formerly HEC). Whilst we’re not necessarily moving to SAP S/4, the RISE with SAP proposition is to take the infrastructure in the cloud with any hyperscaler—be that Google, AWS, or Microsoft Azure—put the RISE with SAP wrapper around it, and change the database and operating system, [preparing] for S4 SaaS. When we explored the financials of RISE with SAP, it made more sense to us than just having the infrastructure in the cloud on SAP ECC. RISE with SAP allowed us to shift the model from SAP ECC to SAP S/4 when we deem [it] necessary.

ASUG: How did you all begin your RISE with SAP journey? How far into the process are you?

Sanjay: Our RISE with SAP journey started in summer 2021. We contracted with SAP and Microsoft Azure. Where are we on the journey? We’ve already set up the two environments for NewCo and Tate & Lyle (the two companies being set up). As of November, we completed doing work in the development landscape, and we’re testing in pre-production. We’re well down that track, with an intention that we will switch over to SAP ECC in early 2022.

ASUG: How did you all hear about RISE with SAP?

Sanjay: Many of us—myself included—come from a background in IT in one [form or another]. For me, I worked with IBM for many years on multiple SAP deployments, even though I wasn’t in that part of the IBM business. My current head of delivery and his team, who spent 10 years deploying SAP, have stayed close to SAP developments and understand the SAP road map.

SAP S/4 has been on our radar for a while. We looked at it a couple of years ago, in terms of finding the right time to move [to] the S/4 landscape. We couldn’t find a compelling event that would drive us that way. When the separation came along and we were moving the infrastructure to the cloud, it made sense to change the database and operating system too, and, comparing that with what we were going to do, the long-term financials and business continuity risk made more sense with RISE, leaving us to focus on the business change later.

ASUG: Why is RISE with SAP now such a good fit for your two organizations? How has it made this entire process easier?

Sanjay: We weren’t looking at RISE with SAP. We were looking at infrastructure as a service. RISE with SAP made sense, because when we look at the total cost over the long period—if we had moved to infrastructure as [a] service and then later moved onto SAP S/4HANA—the total cost of ownership would’ve been higher than if we moved on to RISE with SAP now. It made economic sense.

Secondly, as I said, it de-coupled the infrastructure element associated with RISE with SAP—SAP HANA database and the operating system now—whilst we’re doing the infrastructure changes anyway, from the business change, which we can choose when we do them. We do them module by module, so it broke up the overall risk profile of moving from one ERP to another. Doing the infrastructure part now, because we were going to do that anyway, adding the database and operating system, and then doing the business change at our leisure going forward. Financially, and from a business change and risk perspective, it made more sense overall to do it now.

ASUG: What advice would you give to organizations that are thinking about using RISE with SAP?

Sanjay: The most critical advice I can give is what I spent two years doing: find the right strategic trigger point to go on the journey. In our case, it was the separation of the company that triggered it, which two years ago I wouldn’t have known about.

The second piece of advice I’d give is to do your homework.