SAP S/4HANA certainly is a software milestone or according to SAP’s own characterization “A re-imagined suite to reimage business”. This striking statement puts quite a load on the shoulders of CIOs. Yes. SAP S/4HANA projects mean an upheaval – for the IT department as well as for the entire organization and its existing processes. Consequently, plans for introducing SAP S/4HANA strongly influence the future direction of the company, not only from a technical viewpoint, but also regarding the way in which future business processes can and will be designed.
CIOs need to be visionary with regard to technical developments, but also regarding current and future business cases which justify the investment and the efforts that naturally come with such transformation processes. And they need to be ambassadors who help colleagues across the entire organization so that they can understand and support this transformation and the potential outcome for the company.
In addition to these very high-level tasks there are also a lot of very specific and fundamental topics which a CIO has to deal with, such as estimating future data volumes as well as new budget and licensing strategies. He needs to have an eye on the fact that SAP S/4HANA is not the legal successor to SAP R/3 and SAP ECC 6.0, which impacts the continuation or – to be more exact – potential discontinuation of familiar functionality. He needs to plan how to develop the right skills required to run and exploit the new IT system etc.
Everything does not have to be done at once, but one thing is for sure: Existing customers who want to stay with SAP systems have to migrate by 2025. And, a lot of this load is on the shoulders of the CIO – who is ideally a visionary ambassador with ground contact and thus ideally set up to master high-level topics as well as fundamental considerations.
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