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2021 Is The Year Of The Intelligent Enterprise – Here’s How SAP Solutions Can Transform Your Business | MDSap

We can all agree that 2020 was a difficult year. Enterprises around the world had to rethink the way they do business and how best to keep their employees and customers safe and happy while remaining productive and profitable. By no means an easy task given the circumstances of adapting to a “new normal” in a radically changing business landscape. For all the effort that businesses have put in to optimise their organisational processes, remote working operations, supply chain management and customer experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies that have embraced intelligent technology are seeing the greatest improvements in productivity, cost-efficiencies and process cycle times. Intelligent technology in 2021 empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions, anticipate and respond to changes and challenges, and uncover hidden opportunities in uncertain times.


Intelligent Enterprises use an integrated suite of solutions connected to intelligent technologies that work across all functions of a business. SAP defines it as a complete end-to-end platform that turns data into business value. This involves collecting, connecting and analysing business-wide data, deploying machine learning and artificial intelligence, and prompting the appropriate automated processes and applications to gain insight, predict behaviour and calculate demand. 

SAP’s technology approach for the intelligent enterprise focuses on three components:

  • Operational data: The “what” of business data that is captured through activities such as day-to-day transactions like costs, revenues and sales.
  • Experience data: The “who”and “why” of business data that focuses on individual behaviour and sentiments to gain deeper insight and predict demand.
  • Intelligence: The collection and analysis of operational and experience data with intelligent technology to transform data into business value.

SAP offers a portfolio of enterprise software that integrates experience data and operational data with intelligent technology to streamline and automate every business process in your organisation.

The architecture of an intelligent enterprise can be broken down as follows:

  • Business Process Automation: Automation of business-wide processes, including more integrated interaction with customers, external and internal stakeholders, and employees through intelligence-embedded applications in the intelligent suite.
  • Intelligent Applications: Digital platforms facilitate the collection and connection of data, including the integration and extension of automated business processes. 
  • Intelligent Technologies: Core technology embeds automation into business processes that enables applications to detect patterns, predict outcomes, and suggest actions based on accumulated data.

Applying an intelligent enterprise strategy across your business will help you redefine customer experience, optimise productivity and augment employee engagement to become market leaders in any industry.


Digital transformation and the Intelligent Enterprise were main focuses at the 2020 SAPPHIRE NOW Reimagined conference. “Digital transformation is no longer an option, but a must,” Christian Klein, SAP CEO, told attendees in his keynote address.

With the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, SAP has refocused its energy into promoting digital transformation and the Intelligent Enterprise as a solution to empower companies facing rapid changes in supply chains, work arrangements, and operations. Enterprises in 2021 increasingly need agility, speed and insight to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Priorities are shifting quickly, and tight connection and communication both internally and with customers and vendors across the supply chain require companies to rely on digital technology and automation more than ever. 

The recent IDC Market Spotlight, “Digital Transformation in Times of Change: What Intelligent Enterprises Need from Their ERP Systems” explores how Intelligent ERP builds resilience to recover quickly, and highlights 10 critical characteristics of an intelligent ERP such as SAP S/4HANA:

  1. Cognitive: Every organisation generates massive amounts of internal and external data. SAP S/4HANA, an intelligent ERP, uses analytics and cognitive aspects of machine learning, deep learning, and robotic process automation to analyse the data, glean insights from the data, and make predictions of processes, transactions, and other data elements. The ability to turn analytics into insights and deliver value in real time makes the cognitive elements of intelligent ERP critical to remaining successful in 2021.
  2. Connected: Unifying end-to-end processes with accurate data helps you gain transparency and makes your business more resilient. By connecting transaction data with data from other enterprise applications, social media, weather, news, sensors, robots, and drones, you can yield real-time information that helps you make the right decisions in the moment and over any time span. Organisations using intelligent ERP from SAP can connect to customers, suppliers, employees, and other businesses so they are stronger and more resilient. 
  3. Agile: Intelligent ERP systems are easier to use, more interactive, more intuitive, and provide the entire organisation with more visibility into what is happening, enabling people from different business functions to work together in making decisions that lead to better performance. Leveraging simple, interactive, and intuitive technology enables mobile workflows that add flexibility to your employees’ lives. On-demand access to agile, configurable, quick-to-implement, and scalable technology also helps your employees work anywhere and any time.
  4. Compliant: From manufacturing to procurement and suppliers to engineering, following the right business processes is necessary to ensure the right customer experience. Businesses must operate consistently while staying compliant. This includes the segregation of duties in accounting, material management controls and track and trace in the supply chain, and the engineering-specified materials in the products. An intelligent ERP like SAP S/4HANA helps organisations follow corporate and statutory policies to the letter with solutions that are updated regularly, helping you stay in front of evolving requirements in every area of business, including manufacturing, production, and the supply chain.
  5. Capable: With intelligent ERP from SAP, your business can unlock value across the entire enterprise instead of certain elements based on a function only. Finance, procurement and manufacturing can access the information they need as the marketplace evolves, making the right decisions at the right time. In-memory technology capabilities mean the business can manage without delays from traditional structures for areas such as financial close and material requirements planning (MRP).
  6. Modern: Cloud ERP systems are agile, configurable, continuously updated, quicker to implement, scalable, and available anywhere and any time. On-demand access to shared IT resources in the cloud has helped organisations remain resilient during uncertain times, enabling employees to continue working wherever they are.
  7. Collaborative: Collaboration is key to meeting customer expectations and maintaining productivity in more isolated work environments. Intelligent ERP empowers your workforce with a single source of real-time information to make strategic and operational decisions faster – fostering a collaborative culture of seamless insight sharing and intelligent, forward-thinking analysis.
  8. Innovative: Organisations that emerge successfully from today’s turbulent environment will be those that use intelligence to innovate quickly with new and forward-thinking models. Intelligent ERP from SAP is flexible enough to adapt and scale quickly by combining and analysing data from multiple sources to improve decision making and outcomes.
  9. Scalable: Intelligent ERP helps organisations move through the ebb and flow of uncertainty by scaling capabilities with technology priced through a subscription-based pricing model. Subscription-based pricing models such as consumption pricing make it easier to scale as needed. The software and the pricing scale together in a consumption-based model. The typical model is based on a subscription price at a tier level so that the intelligent ERP vendor and client get the best of both worlds.
  10. Real-time: Real-time intelligent ERP systems allow businesses to scale intelligently with the most important and up-to-date data possible. Consuming this real-time data enables actionable insights so that the intelligent enterprise can make the best business decisions at all points in time.

Through these digital transformation innovations market leaders are able to turn data into insights and insights into revenue. Emerging technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) enable businesses to innovate, optimise experiences, and automate processes to be more resilient, profitable, sustainable and ultimately successful in 2021.

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