What Is SAP S/4HANA? 

Introduced in 2015, SAP S/4HANA is the current centerpiece of the SAP portfolio. The ERP platform is designed to meet all the needs and processes of a large enterprise, including order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, and hire-to-retire.

SAP S/4HANA runs on the SAP HANA database and can be leveraged by organizations in a few different ways. Customers can run the platform in on-premise, cloud, and hybrid environments.

A significant number of SAP users are already live on SAP S/4HANA or starting their implementation journey. But there are still many organizations using legacy SAP ERP platforms, such as SAP ECC. SAP is urging users to implement SAP S/4HANA and has indicated it will stop maintenance of SAP Business Suite 7 applications in 2027. This gives users effectively five years to migrate to SAP S/4HANA, which will receive maintenance until 2040.

Why Should My Organization Implement SAP S/4HANA? 

SAP S/4HANA was developed to run on the SAP HANA database. SAP S/4HANA features enhancements and improvements focused on allowing users to make decisions faster and easier. Significant differences between SAP S/4HANA and its predecessor, SAP ECC, include improved user experience (UX) with SAP Fiori and advanced capabilities afforded by AI, ML, and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies.

“But for us as an organization, we thought that the timing was right, and we wanted to take advantage of the opportunities around business process transformation that we'd have with focused involvement from the business; including building out a better user interface and getting the inherent performance gains with SAP S/4HANA memory platform,” John Austria, SAP S/4HANA programming manager at Esri, told ASUG during a conversation about the organization’s move to the ERP platform.

The importance and utility of SAP S/4HANA extends beyond its upgraded capabilities. In recent years, SAP has made clear its vision of the intelligent enterprise—an aspirational view of an organization brought together by an integrated suite of solutions working across all functions and connected to intelligent technologies. SAP S/4HANA is a key part of this vision. SAP has taken initiative to encourage migration to the ERP platform to become an intelligent enterprise.

How Does This Impact My Journey to the Cloud? 

SAP has placed increased emphasis on the cloud in recent years. In 2017, SAP released SAP S/4HANA Cloud, a multi-tenet software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of SAP S/4HANA. It was designed to be run in private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. The capabilities of this solution were more streamlined than the on-premise version of SAP S/4HANA. SAP has released quarterly updates to SAP S/4HANA Cloud aimed at expanding the capabilities of the solution.

Cloud migration has become a priority for many organizations. Implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud has been used to facilitate that shift as SAP has released tools to help with this process, most notably launching RISE with SAP in January 2021.

“We were intrigued by the opportunity to improve stability, scalability, and address some performance concerns by moving to SAP S/4HANA,” Rob Seifert, Senior Manager of Financial Systems at Esri, told ASUG. “I was hopeful that we could look at leveraging SAP from the cloud and improving the user experience, starting with customer service and professional services.”

To learn more about SAP S/4HANA Fundamentals, explore more content here with ASUG Pathfinder.

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