Norbert Steinhauser/SAP SE
UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) has published research indicating that sizeable majorities of SAP customers are experiencing difficulties with data management that are impeding business process automation (BPA) and migrations to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system S/4 Hana.
The survey, which gathered respondents from 116 members, was published ahead of the organisation’s Analytics Symposium on 5 April 2022.
It revealed that 61% of organisations find themselves beset by data management difficulties that are slowing down the automation of business processes, while two-thirds say that data issues are impeding migrations from SAP ECC 6.0 to S/4 Hana.
Paul Cooper, chairman of the UKISUG, said in a statement: “Many organisations see moving to SAP S/4 Hana or their wider digital transformation as an opportunity to automate more of their business processes. Yet, as our survey shows, data management challenges are slowing progress.
“When moving to SAP S/4 Hana, organisations need to consider whether they need their previous transactional data on the new system. For many, this could lead them to replatforming their current ERP data or using data retention solutions. Data quality is also a very important consideration, as organisations will fail to realise maximum value from implementing S/4 Hana if their existing data hasn’t been cleansed first.”
In an interview with Computer Weekly, he added: “Data can be forgotten once you have got SAP running. But it is very important, the getting of value from that data. Also, in moving to S/4, data is paramount. What data are you going to leave behind? Have you set up a robust archiving process to make your cutover easier once you are live?”
The survey found that more than three-quarters (76%) said their business intelligence and data analytics needs had increased in the past 12 months. When respondents were asked about their most pressing business intelligence needs, data accuracy and consistency (26%), dashboards/visualisation (23%) and data governance (18%) were the most commonly cited.
Paul Cooper, UKISUG
The vast majority (92%) of the organisations surveyed said they have or plan to have a data strategy. Of those, 46% said it was being developed in-house, 42% said it was being done with a partner, and 12% said they were developing their data strategy with SAP.
Cooper surmised that those working directly with SAP would have the more complicated programmes, associated with mergers and acquisitions, and similarly dramatic strategic scenarios. “Typically, you would go to your [existing] partner. It is an interesting space. Some niche providers have developed in the market who specialise in getting you through the data journey of S/4,” he said.
Many organisations surveyed pointed to a lack of skills (41%) and technologies (41%) preventing them from effectively using of all their data. More than half (57%) of organisations said they were using or planned to use SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), which is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business intelligence platform. Built on the supplier’s Hana Cloud Platform, SAC allows data analysts and other business professionals to plan, visualise data and do predictive analytics in one cloud-based environment.
The survey highlighted other specific problem areas for SAP customers, with 69% facing the issue of data being spread across their environment on multiple platforms and 64% saying they were troubled with data accuracy and consistency problems.
“Increasingly, when it comes to data, the challenge is less about how much you have, but rather what you can do with it. SAP systems are a treasure trove of operational and customer insight, so it’s vital organisations invest in the necessary skills and technology,” said Cooper in the statement.