Businesses are increasingly undergoing large-scale digital initiatives to emerge beyond all forms of uncertainty. Some organizations are simply adapting to changing economics, social conditions, and customer preferences, while others effectively alter their DNA to work smarter and drive innovation to get ahead.
This kind of change doesn't happen naturally or overnight. Time and resources must be invested to build the right language, communication channels, processes, data, and reporting structures and share them enterprisewide. And organizations further ahead in establishing that foundation are most likely integrating their operations.
According to Oxford Economics, only 25% of surveyed executives can say that their operations are completely integrated. If you dig a little deeper in this research, you'll find that this minority is redesigning employee experiences and operations with transparency and improving profit margins.
"Integration is not just for housekeeping exercise of connecting applications, data, and processes," Dr. Michael Ameling, head of Intelligent Enterprise Program and Cross Architecture at SAP, said during a session at ASUG Next-Generation SAP Enterprise Architect Conference. "It's about creating an end-to-end, seamless, and harmonized user experience—and that requires flexibility and full coverage across the entire value chain. And this approach to integration sets the foundation of the Intelligent Enterprise."
Intelligent Enterprises Are Integrated Enterprises
Rising demand for seamless user experiences and harmonized business processes from customers, partners, and user communities like ASUG has brought the need for integration front and center. In 2020 alone, SAP delivered nearly 350 integrations, indicating growth of more than 160% over the previous year.
"The key to this growth is open integration. In addition to connecting APIs as events, we are integrating SAP solutions with third-party or legacy systems in the cloud and on premise," remarked Ameling. "We all know that APIs live more often in hybrid environments, and organizations must consider that reality in their digital transformation plans."
Integration often begins with simple functionalities such as single sign-on, data management, and application connectivity, before maturing to take on more complex needs such as data privacy and protection and access authorization. Meanwhile, delivering end-to-end business processes is a long-term activity that starts with a small number of processes and continues to involve more over time until the entire business process is covered.
Aramco Europe is one example of an SAP customer that has benefited from this approach. Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) deployed SAP S/4HANA Cloud with SAP Ariba solutions to manage suppliers and SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP Concur solutions to manage HR and travel expenses. Prebuilt integration flows in SAP Integration Suite connect them all smoothly with one another, eliminating many customizations.
With integration as a strategic priority, experts from SAP and Aramco produced a full-service intelligent enterprise with a powerful yet flexible framework for all ongoing operations and forthcoming innovations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, its employees continued to work alone after a short delay, so the entire project took only 12 months of effort.
Among critical outcomes is a fully automated quarter-end closing and reporting structure to capture the financial performance and risk management strategy of the investment portfolio worth $27.8 billion. Process efficiency has also significantly increased for delivering support services across Europe, Africa, and Asia. Stakeholders everywhere have deeper insight into operations, and the company is well-positioned to pilot new technological and business innovations.
As Aramco's experience demonstrates, focusing on optimizing end-to-end business processes can help align the domain model that empowers and supports user behaviors. Providing the workforce with an integrated landscape of a central core of intelligence and function-specific applications allows employees to access comprehensive data, derive insights, and leverage analytics to make decisions confidently.
A Strategic Move to Integration Pays Off
As companies embrace the inextricably digital nature of today's marketplace, new challenges will inevitably arise. But when operations, processes, digital investments, data intelligence, and business relationship—internal and external—are viewed as part of the same network, organizations can get ahead of every risk and disruption.
This is the beauty of true integration. Organizations can create a harmonized, seamless user experience across all decision-making by nurturing collaborative processes and reaping the benefits of interconnectivity. Essentially, they create and strengthen the heart of their Intelligent Enterprise.
Discover the power of open integration with SAP solutions. Watch the on-demand session, "SAP Integration Strategy and Techniques," from ASUG Next-Generation SAP Enterprise Architect Conference, featuring SAP's Dr. Michael Ameling, head of Intelligent Enterprise Program and Cross Architecture, and Katrin von Ahsen, product expert Cross Architecture.