SAP\u2019s 2027 deadline extension on S\/4HANA migration has lit a fire under many businesses that had long put it off. Now it\u2019s a priority.\nHowever, S\/4HANA is only as good as the value you get out of it, and too often businesses are choosing to make the jump for a simple technology upgrade without thinking through how that upgrade may or may not actually serve up new value. This is a major problem, because for all the new benefits and innovations that S\/4HANA brings to the table, these simply cannot be attained by technology updates alone. Worse still, an S\/4HANA migration can actually result in a negative ROI if you haven\u2019t done the careful upfront analysis on what exactly you need and want to get out of it.\nEnterprises can\u2019t let the tail wag the dog. The end goal isn\u2019t to migrate to S\/4HANA simply for migration\u2019s sake; the end goal is to unlock new business value. That means step one for this, and any digital transformation project, is to identify the \u201cwhy\u201d \u2013 why you\u2019re transforming. Identifying the \u201cwhy\u201d informs every other decision in the process, but so many enterprises skip this step, focusing more on the \u201chow\u201d or \u201cwhat\u201d of their digitalization project, and arrive at a destination where it\u2019s not clear to them what that transformation actually delivered.\nUncertainty casts a long shadow over transformation projects\nSo many enterprises struggle with digital transformations because their projects are plagued with uncertainty from the outset. That uncertainty largely stems from a lack of information and upfront analysis going into the project. Key decisions that need to be asked and answered \u2013 like whether to execute a combined cloud migration, a simultaneous OS\/DB modernization, and a Greenfield, Brownfield, or Bluefield implementation \u2013 aren\u2019t given the due diligence they need.\nWithout that reflection and analysis, many organizations end up defaulting to what they consider the lowest risk and easiest-to-defend choice. In other words, they may default to a Brownfield technical upgrade or a brand-new Greenfield implementation because it seems like the path of least resistance, not because they did a thorough self-evaluation of their needs and business goals and came to that conclusion. As a result, they end up going through a long digitalization process and come out the other end confused about what benefit, if any, they have to show for it.\nFor example, nine times out of 10, whenever we talk to a business about their No. 1 reason for wanting to migrate to S\/4HANA, it\u2019s because they want to take advantage of the platform\u2019s advanced analytics. That analytics capability is a huge draw for enterprises. Then we\u2019ll hear these same businesses chose a Greenfield approach for migrating to S\/4HANA, because that clean-slate implementation seemed like the easiest and lowest-risk path. But a Greenfield migration naturally means not carrying forward any historical data \u2013 data you need to fully reap the benefits of S\/4HANA\u2019s advanced analytics functionality. So in these scenarios, choosing the path of least resistance was tantamount to choosing the path of least value.\nThis is just one example, but it\u2019s emblematic of a deeper problem: enterprises looking to make the jump to S\/4HANA, or embark on any digitalization project, without thinking through why. Without identifying that \u201cwhy\u201d upfront, you inevitably end up making decisions that undermine the ROI you should be getting out of the project. All too often we hear from enterprises who commit themselves to a Greenfield or a Brownfield approach for S\/4HANA migration, and then only afterward do they ask, \u201cwhat area of my business will be affected the most by this?\u201d That\u2019s an enormously important consideration that should be treated as step one, but frequently it arises only later in the process.\nNegative ROI on one digitalization project can undermine interest in all of them\nIll-prepared digital transformation projects have ripple effects. One digitalization effort that fails to produce value doesn\u2019t just exist in a vacuum. If a technical upgrade, cloud migration, or ERP merge results in a system that looks the same as before, with processes that aren\u2019t delivering anything new, then the decision makers will see that lack of ROI and lose interest in any further digitalization because they believe the value just isn\u2019t there.\nImagine an IT team leader saying they want fancy new dashboards and new digital boardroom features. But a digital transformation project that ends with just implementing new dashboards doesn\u2019t change the underlying facts about what kind of data may be read on those dashboards. And if your fancy dashboards start displaying incorrect data or gaps in data sets, you haven\u2019t just undermined the efficacy and \u201ccool factor\u201d of those dashboards; you\u2019ve also made it that much harder to salvage the credibility of the project and advocate for any new digitalization in the future. What\u2019s the value in new dashboards if you haven\u2019t fixed the data problems underneath?\nOn the flip side of that scenario, if you tagged your value and your \u201cwhy\u201d not to cool-looking dashboards, but instead to reducing procurement spend by a certain percentage, then you have something real and measurable to indicate the success of the project. Cool dashboards that don\u2019t work doesn\u2019t tell you anything about digital transformation, but dashboards that clearly depict a reduction in procurement spend, and deliver real cost savings and real value with that achievement, make for a clear case of why digital transformation works.\nWhen athletes train for a race, they do so knowing the distance they\u2019re going to run on race day and the kind of workouts and mileage they need to get under their belts to hit that goal. Digital transformation should be treated the same way. When you don\u2019t have a concrete end goal in mind, your digitalization efforts are going to flounder, and you\u2019ll have nothing measurable to show for it. But when you start the process by identifying why you want to transform, and want value you want that transformation to yield for, you know exactly what to work toward, how to work toward it and, most importantly, why you\u2019re working toward it.\nDigital transformation isn\u2019t a magic wand that you wave and suddenly there\u2019s the value. It\u2019s only by breaking down what exactly you need in transformation \u2013 and identifying the why that the transformation serves in the end \u2013 that you\u2019ll reap that value.