Every house is the product of careful architecture planning and attention to detail. Whether newly constructed or remodeled to fit the needs of a growing family or empty nesters, the process includes much more than structural blueprinting that details locations of wall studs, pipes, and electrical wiring. More importantly, findings from compliance assessments and input from various parties, such as the client, builder, and inspector, are considered, digested, and incorporated.
Like our homes, companies have designed and implemented entirely new IT infrastructures from scratch, migrated them to new environments, or renovated them to address new requirements. New paradigms have been introduced, business models have radically evolved, enterprise collaboration is forming close-knit partnerships, and operational intelligence is the norm.
Companies that embrace these four challenges successfully are the ones that establish architectures with a consistent cycle of reevaluation, redefinition, and openness to change. And many of our customers have integrated these capabilities into their processes with the help of architecture planning services offered as part of the New SAP MaxAttention engagement model.
To learn more about these services, I spoke with Christian Langpape, vice president of IT Planning at SAP.
Q: Companies are opening themselves to unprecedented opportunities to assist business users, disrupt the marketplace, and build a loyal customer base. How does this level of change impact existing IT architectures?
A: An IT architecture is essentially an asset that must always be fit for a purpose. When its purpose shifts, so must digital capabilities.
With a comprehensive, unvarnished, inside-out, and outside-in look at what’s happening to, in, and around the business, we help companies identify internal and external change drivers and derive the right enablers to address them.
Executives can tease out such change drivers by asking themselves:
- How does the market change?
- What technology trends lead to new opportunities and substantial change?
- Which business or technology pain points demand change?
Based on those answers, they can determine which business capabilities deployed today are still fit for purpose, which capabilities need to evolve, and which additional capabilities need to be acquired by using, for example, the SAP Transformation Navigator tool.
Besides business capabilities, desired non-functional qualities – such as agility – have a strong influence. Many enterprises have introduced rigid software change processes to prevent defects and downtimes, which, however, also introduce massive latency and require significant effort to deliver a desired business change. In many cases, this can be resolved through a combination of simplifications and technology improvements.
Q: Can you explain how our architecture planning services help our customers undergo a balanced approach to scaling their digital capabilities?
A: The architecture planning services help give our customers an understanding of how and where their established IT architectures should evolve to address their change drivers by means of architecture adjustments.
We use industry-specific reference architectures developed by SAP to map business capabilities to end-to-end processes and SAP applications that are the best fit for each customer’s market. From there, we derive a target architecture that addresses the specific requirements of the respective customer while taking as-is architecture and change drivers into account. By breaking the evolution from as-is to target architecture down into a sequence of individual initiatives on a timeline, we can define the road map.
Take, for example, a customer running a large number of tightly connected productive systems with a considerable degree of customization. The risk and effort of managing change on such an IT architecture creates a rather immobile environment, making it difficult to adjust processes on existing technology and leverage next-generation technology, such as SAP S/4HANA.
In this scenario, the business misses out on new capabilities that some of its competitors are using. The promises of innovations like SAP S/4HANA – which include process innovations, agility, and real-time insights – are considerable gains. However, they are never realized due to the large number of affected systems and interfaces.
Q: What aspects of our architecture planning services help customers reduce the risks and effort related to system enhancements or modifications?
A: With a strong tendency towards hybrid cloud deployments and process automation driven by machine learning, IT architectures will continue to advance over the next five to 10 years without a doubt.
To keep up with this reality, most businesses require support to ensure architecture changes account for best practices and lessons learned from industry and non-industry peers. Plus, given a rapid product evolution, the vendor’s product strategy is another key input in the evolution of existing and new technology investments and a future-proof digital strategy.
By embracing our architecture planning service model, customers reduce the time needed to address the considerations I just outlined. The engagement model of the New SAP MaxAttention allows us to flexibly join our customer’s journey based on the customers desired pace, priorities, and degree of assistance. And with the addition of the SAP Transformation Hub, a new delivery concept specifically created for architecture planning, we help foster continuity through regional architect teams based on globally governed methodologies, tools, and content.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll offer a real-world view of these focus topics that can help your business acquire the foundation and capabilities of an intelligent enterprise. Bookmark the series landing page and check it each week. In the meantime, read our overview of the New SAP MaxAttention, “Customer Success for the Intelligent Enterprise,” to discover the opportunities ahead for your business. And for more information, reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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