When organizations talk about migrating core enterprise applications to cloud, much of the focus is on operational efficiencies and the benefits of trading up hefty, upfront capital expenditures for more manageable subscription pricing.
Often underplayed, particularly when it comes to SAP environments, are the innovation advantages of cloud migration. Moving SAP to the cloud provides an opportunity to reimagine and automate core business processes, gain deeper insights, and deliver better employee and customer experiences. That’s the consensus from the IDG Influencer Network, a community of IT experts who weighed in with their perspectives on how migrating foundational applications such as SAP to the cloud helps improve an organization’s ability to innovate.
With a cloud services model freeing IT from the drudgery of daily maintenance and upkeep of conventional on-premises SAP applications, organizations gain the flexibility and agility to advance their digital transformation agendas and carve out a competitive edge.
“IT’s focus shifts from supporting the infrastructure and platform to providing business services, connecting ERP with other data sources, and improving customer and employee experiences,” says Isaac Sacolick (@nyike), president of StarCIO and a digital transformation leader and influencer. “Business leaders and employees are more open to innovation-driven changes because they can get their daily work completed more efficiently when SAP is performing well and running on the latest versions.”
Migrating core applications like SAP to cloud is all about agility, agrees Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), chief strategy officer and head of martech consulting at Geekhive. Agile businesses respond more effectively to market changes and customer needs, are better equipped to prevent disruptions and mitigate risk, and have a solid framework to fuel competitive innovation, DeLibero contends.
Key requirements like performance and scalability—which can hamper an on-premises SAP solution—are easier to come by in the cloud, making it easier to shift attention to more pervasive innovation, notes Ben Rothke (@benrothke), senior information security specialist at Tapad. Shifting the time and staff-intensive tasks of managing on-premises infrastructure to a vendor-managed cloud solution “frees up [IT staff] to focus on product improvements and innovations,” he says.
“The cloud enables teams to move quickly and experiment with shared resources, scalability, and self-service features while not having to deal with the slow train of service desk tickets and corporate procurement cycles,” says Will Kelly (@willkelly), a product and content marketing manager focused on DevOps and the cloud.
With IT free from the “treadmill” of continual infrastructure updates, organizations can push forward with innovation using cutting-edge technologies such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics, which are now more accessible through cloud as-a-service models. “Activating those capabilities as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) allows you to innovate far more quickly than doing bespoke development,” says Wayne Sadin (@waynesadin), a board member and C-suite advisor.
In addition to helping standardize processes and improve business agility, the cloud has obvious benefits for supporting a more disparate and mobile workforce, says Kate Achille (@katieachille), managing partner at The Devon Group. The need for employees to be productive and to collaborate effectively from any location is an imperative for many IT organizations in support of new hybrid work models. “Enabling effective connections and collaboration across organizations allows businesses to stay productive and respond faster as circumstances evolve,” says Achille.
Cloud-based deployment of applications like SAP makes it easier to tap into advanced capabilities that promote innovation, but equally important are the cloud’s core advantages, including scalability. The cloud “provides the flexibility to design and implement workloads without expensive upfront purchases of additional compute and storage resources,” says Fawad Butt (@buttfawad), chief data officer at UnitedHealth Group and Kaiser Permanente.
Brent Kirkpatrick (@DrBKirkpatrick), founder of Intrepid Net Computing, adds: “Migrating core business applications to the cloud gives an organization options for access, backup, and computation. The same functionality is available on the go as is available at the desk. All the backups are done by the cloud as well as the heavy computation.”
While migrating core applications like SAP to the cloud has historically not been for the faint at heart, technology advances that aid in the transition have become a game changer. “As low code, hyper-automation, and machine learning tools become more mainstream, the anxiety levels are decreasing rapidly,” says Frank Cutitta (@fcutitta), CEO & founder of HealthTech Decision Lab. “Having these applications in an environment that permits mobility, availability and processing power depending on the task permits innovation not only within a departmental function, but more importantly across the enterprise.”
The keys to achieving all-around benefits from cloud deployment of mission-critical platforms like SAP: Don’t shoot for the moon all at once and be sure the migration plan maps to strategic business objectives, not just a desire for modernization.
“The best innovators make a business case, select the applications and a cloud provider, and then focus on migration and the digital workloads for innovation,” says Peggy Smedly (@ConnectedWMag), author of “Sustainable in a Circular World” and editorial director. “Simply put, it’s about taking the cloud journey in stages.”
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