In my last blog, I discussed some of the key benefits of migrating to S/4HANA and introduce the notion that the true basis of a business case resided not in S/4HANA in itself but what it enabled customers to do that they couldn’t before. Now that we’ve covered agile in a previous blog, I want to move on to something that is even more important and at the heart of every business– customer experience.
In a crowded marketplace, customer experience has become the key differentiator. As technology levels the playing field for small and large business alike, those that offer the most compelling experiences will ultimately lead the pack.
It’s the reason why Uber has usurped traditional taxis and why Amazon continues to dominate over the high street – or for that matter, any other ecommerce site.
It’s even the reason banks are quickly losing ground to digital disrupters. Huge corporations who customers have trusted for decades to look after their life savings – losing out simply because they can’t offer the experiences of nimbler start-ups.
Again, like my last blog, I’m not going to tell you S/4HANA will be the answer to all your problems. But on your journey towards giving customers those engaging, advocacy-winning experiences, transforming your ERP is one of the most significant steps you can take.
Getting more from data
We all know that data is the new oil. And while it can be used to power businesses’ internal processes, the other half of the story is how it enables us to look outward. To look at what drives, motivates, and engages customers, and to design experiences around that story.
I mentioned in my first blog how S/4HANA does things differently from previous SAP iterations. Before, ERP was modular. Data was housed in silos. And while this enabled the development of localised, experimental transformation projects, it couldn’t facilitate the wholesale digital change that today’s businesses need.
S/4HANA changes all that. It’s been built from the ground up as a single, holistic piece of software. Gone are the silos. Instead, you get a complete, 360 view of all your data.
Furthermore, S/4HANA can handle more data than previous iterations. You don’t need me to tell you we’re generating more data than ever before. This unprecedented volume of information needs a repository with the capacity to store and handle it effectively – and that’s exactly what S/4HANA is designed for.
Reimagining customer experiences
So what does this mean in practice?
Well, let’s say you’re an online retailer. With S/4HANA, you suddenly have the capability to know more about each and every customer than ever before. Not just simple demographic information, but every point of reference your touchpoints can pick up – what time they shop, what devices they use, on which days they have the highest propensity to buy, and so on.
Having access to this data is the baseline for spotting patterns that you’d otherwise miss.
You’ll know for example if a certain demographic has a higher propensity to buy on a Tuesday morning from a mobile device. This knowledge can then be used to enhance customers’ experiences – things like optimising the site for a certain device, or showing recommended products at a certain time of day.
This is just scratching the surface of what’s possible. But it’s these colorations found in vast swathes of data that’s really going to make the difference.
And then there’re those even bigger, more ambitious customer experience projects. Drones, VR, AR, blockchain, IoT – that robust repository of information is what’s going to enable them all.
Of course Retail isn’t the only sector that’ll benefit. Every market will be transformed in some shape or form by digital transformation. And that means S/4HANA is essential, no matter what your business is.
In my next blog, I’ll explore the current state of play, using a recent survey of business leaders to understand how much pressure they feel to modernise their ERP systems.