The growth of e-commerce and the increasing digitisation of business architecture has given rise to incredibly complex operations and networks – both within the business itself as well as in the outside world, through which an enterprise may have to deliver its products.
Managing the enterprise in such circumstances has become a massive challenge, but not one without rewards.
Nowadays, using powerful software, a business manager can see every aspect of the operations and make small changes which can have enormous on profitability.
One of the companies providing such business management applications is SAP. And here, we speak exclusively to Hans Thalbauer, SVP of extended supply chain and IoT, SAP, who says it is possible now to delve into the “most minute levels of detail” of a business.
EM360: SAP is a huge company, but can you summarise what the company offers in terms of extended supply chain and IoT services?
Hans Thalbauer: SAP offers solutions to improve the entire supply chain process, from demand planning to inventory management – and uses the latest technologies such as the Internet of Things, RFID, and advanced analytics to help customers run real-time supply chains.
Our supply chain management (SCM) software enables our customers to run increasingly complex supply networks and improve business outcomes.
Some specific SCM solutions we offer include, demand management, manufacturing planning and scheduling solutions, transportation management, warehouse management, supply chain integrity solutions, sales, inventory and operations planning, as well as solutions to improve demand networks, logistic networks and response networks.
While all of our SCM solutions utilize the benefits of IoT and other technological advancements, some specific solutions we offer related to IoT include, IoT platform and data management, IoT applications and IoT consulting services.
Our solutions can be integrated through SAP S/4HANA. The recently released latest version, S/4 HANA 1610 allow supply chains to perform better with increased agility, promoting lower lead times, better customer service and higher profitability.
EM360: SAP claims to have 335,000 customers in 190 countries. What are some of the business you are dealing with in your area of responsibility – extended supply chain and IoT services?
Hans Thalbauer: SAP IoT customers range from Italy’s leading rail transport operator, Trenitalia, to the city of Buenos Aires when it comes to IoT.
In respect to supply chain management, we work with leading consumer food brands like Hillshire Brands Company and Ferrero, vehicle manufacturers including Porsche, as well as those in the travel and transportation industry like Pañalon, just to name a few.
We are always looking to make gains in new markets and expand our hold on existing ones. The transportation and consumer brand industries will always be important for us, but, as laid out in our recent announcement regarding our IoT innovation Portfolio, we are also looking to expand in the areas of connected products, connected assets, connected fleet, connected infrastructure, connected markets and connected people.
I’ll give you more information on each of those categories:
- Connected products for new insights into lifecycle management, sourcing, response and supply, and digital supply networks; and the design, manufacturing and delivery of smart, connected products across all industries
- Connected assets to track, monitor and analyze fixed assets, including manufacturing and maintenance business processes, to reduce costs and increase equipment uptime
- Connected fleet to enable businesses and public service organizations owning moving assets (such as vehicles, robots, fork lifts and autonomous vehicles) to improve services and safety, visibility to logistics and service quality
- Connected infrastructure for new digital operational intelligence from physical-infrastructure systems, construction and energy grids enabling improved service, efficient operations and compliance and risk mitigation
- Connected markets to enable new production, and business models of local relevance and at the right timing for customer and marketing insights, digital agribusiness, smart ports and smart cities
- Connected people for more insightful, collaborative work roles, health management and smart home environments connecting people and communities and providing better, more personalized lifestyle experiences
We are not commenting on our competitors and we believe if we continue to concentrate on putting our customers first and really focus on building customer-centric solutions, leveraging the latest and greatest technological advancements, we will continue to outpace all of our competitors.
Our recent investment announcement of €2 billion in the IoT space will help solidify our presence in the industry.SAP looks to simplify complex supply chain management networks Click To Tweet
EM360: SAP is usually a big exhibitor at Hannover Messe. How do such events benefit your company?
Hans Thalbauer: We had a delightful experience exhibiting at Hannover Messe last year, showing how we are making the most exciting Industry 4.0 scenarios tangible.
It was at Hannover Messe that we announced our Asset Intelligence Network and Predictive Maintenance and Service solution, to help equipment manufacturers, service providers and asset operators benefit from IoT.
The innovations are truly ground-breaking as they provide the applications and business network necessary to enable new insights, as well as the ability for all stakeholders in asset management to move to a more proactive approach.
Further, we are looking forward to hosting our first global SAP Leonardo event to bring together our customers, partners and IoT experts to showcase the latest in IoT innovations and effective business strategies. The event will be held July 11-12, in Frankfurt, Germany.
EM360: Describe the level of detail you get into when looking at a supply chain.
Hans Thalbauer: At SAP we make it possible for our customers to drill down into the most minute levels of detail. We’ve found that this level of detail is something that our customers need in order to meet the expectations of their respective customers, and it is this level of detail that our solutions are designed to provide.
Our demand planning and predictive maintenance solutions, are great examples of this, especially from a supply chain management perspective.
These solutions enable us to not only accurately measure demand, but project it with improved accuracy by integrating data from multiple sources with continuous updates from the field.
We can then use demand forecasting and replenishing solutions to accurately forecast customer demand and integrate this information into all levels of the supply chain. Combined with automated replenishment, we can ensure stores and distribution centers are well equipped to handle all orders.
Take your favorite department store, for example, which needs to keep the right amount of product in stock. Now they can see and predict customer orders to offer the best service.
Another example of this is our Connected Parking solution, the latest advancement in our SAP Connected Vehicle Solution suite. The solution enables drives to see parking inventory in real-time.
Take a look at logistics and long haul transportation networks, where truckers are regulated on the number of hours they are allowed to drive continuously. At some point, a driver is required to rest, they need to be able to see where the next open spot may be for them to park. It’s this type of detail and inventory management that our Connected Parking solution is enabling.
EM360: What are your thoughts on how the business of supply chain management will develop going forward?
Hans Thalbauer: Robotics and automation are the future of the digital supply chain. One of the things that really sets SAP apart is that we can not only build solutions that take advantage of technologies like robotics and automation, but we have a deep understanding of the overall business processes. One cannot operate successfully without the other.
Right now we are seeing industries become much smarter, as a result of their utilization of these technologies. We are seeing robots man factory floors and drones deliver packages. We are also seeing the entire process, from demand to delivery, occur automatically.
With the right people, processes and software in place, these technologies can actually improve the customer experience. Which leads me to one trend we are seeing – use of these technologies to create a more customer-centric experience.
Another trend we are seeing in terms of robotics and automation is that the technologies are also getting smarter. Robotics for example, have for the most part been pigeon-holed into only completing easy, mundane tasks.
With the development of deep learning, we are seeing these robots become smarter and able to handle more complex tasks. Furthermore, the whole idea of knowledge sharing between robots is something that could really impact industries.
At SAP we are creating the framework to make these technologies run smoothly and ensure successful adoption that fits business’ needs.
We recently launched a jump-starter program for our IoT portfolio Leonardo, that will help our customers take advantage of IoT, enabling them to more easily connect their smart devices with people and processes to improve business outcomes.
Because it also includes consulting services to help customers understand where to start, we are ensuring that our customers are able to reap the full benefits IoT.