A different ball game: accelerating innovation with SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud

14 June 2018

Alex Ainsworth

Alex Ainsworth

SAP Alliances and Marketing Manager

Cricket and Cloud ERP – what do they have in common? Alex Ainsworth runs between the wickets to draw parallels between the two.

During the early 2000s, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) realised that fans were getting tired of the traditional Test Cricket format. Games were long, often lasting five days or more, and could easily be delayed due to the unpredictable English weather. To add to the frustration, test matches frequently ended in a draw, even after five days of action! As a supporter, it’s a significant investment in time, focus and expectation which may yield no tangible result. With dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship revenue, the ECB had to innovate.

Adding a new spin to the game

In response to this, they introduced Twenty20 in June 2003, a new format that saw two teams bowl for 20 overs (just 120 balls) trying to score as many runs as possible. This new format countered many of the fan's previous concerns. Games were much shorter at around 3 hours, and so spectators were guaranteed action and, more importantly, always guaranteed a result! The format proved hugely popular. Twenty20 games are now prevalent across the cricketing world at both national and international levels, including the formation of a new ICC Twenty20 world series. 
By listening to the fans and acting on their concerns, the ECB took a risk and innovated; creating a new format that not only answered fan's existing frustrations, but introduced a whole new way of playing and watching cricket. This innovation led to increased attendance, new sponsorship opportunities and more people becoming interested in cricket. T20’s debut at Lord’s in July 2004 saw the largest crowd for a domestic game outside of one-day finals for more than 50 years. Australia’s first game in January 2006 also sold out. T20 was here to stay. Read more here.

But what has this got to do with ERP?

This situation draws parallels to the situation enterprise software companies found themselves in just years ago. Traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations for large firms usually last months, if not years, running into the millions of dollars.

When it goes right, there is a collective sigh of relief. Yet by the end of the project the software being used has probably had further updates released, which require another team of consultants to complete the upgrade, starting an endless expensive cycle. If the implementation goes wrong, it can often be disastrous and have lasting impacts on the business.
Like the ECB, SAP noticed these issues and decided to innovate with the release of SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud. Whereas traditional on-premise ERP implementations last months or years, Cloud ERP is designed to be implemented in weeks. Whereas on-premise implementations may run into the millions of pounds, cloud implementations let you spread the cost over years and reduce total cost of ownership by removing on-premise hardware expenses. Most excitingly, with upgrades now the responsibility of SAPs data centre staff, customers automatically received quarterly updates, allowing them to benefit immediately from any new product features or changes without the need to pay for expensive teams of consultants..

A true platform for innovation

Whilst the technology is relatively new, SAP is investing heavily in the product, delivering increasingly fast technical innovation. They have worked hard to ensure that this is seamlessly integrated into the rest of their product suite, starting with their cloud products such as Concur, Fieldglass, SuccessFactors and Ariba and  have built an integrated analytics solution natively into S/4HANA Cloud, allowing customers immediate visibility of their data from day one.

What’s more, the Cloud solution also enables you to make full use of SAP Leonardo capabilities, including machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and AI. As SAP’s capabilities in these areas develop, S/4HANA Cloud customers are the first to benefit: a true platform for innovation.

Time will tell whether SAP’s move to the cloud will be as successful as the ECB’s introduction of the Twenty20 format. One thing we know for sure – you need the right partner to help you navigate your move from your current ERP to SAP S/4HANA Cloud. As a Lighthouse Partner, Bluefin have been investing and working with the product over the last two years and are one of the few UK partners authorised to implement this cutting-edge technology.
To learn more about how your business can benefit from moving its ERP to the Cloud, get in touch with our team of experts.

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About the author

Alex Ainsworth

SAP Alliances and Marketing Manager
In my role I work to strengthen and deepen the relationship between Bluefin and SAP, connecting with account executives from both businesses to increase collaboration particularly within UKI UGB. Bluefin consultants bring innovative ideas and ways of working to the SAP ecosystem, allowing our clients to benefit from the talent contained within our combined organisations.
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