Seamus McNamara has been working with SAP software for nearly 30 years and joined Datacom last year as SAP Practice Manager. We asked him how SAP has evolved and what he sees as the big opportunities for SAP now and in the future.

Most people see SAP as a software tool for managing business processes but that is underselling it. How would you explain SAP and what it can do?

Primarily, SAP is a system of record and traditionally people may have come into contact with it when using it to manage procurement, for example, or in finance or HR roles, so they’ll view SAP in only that context.

But looking at SAP today it’s really an enabler for business change and alignment. And it enables commonality that can be employed across huge organisations, of vast scale and complexity.

It has been too easy for people to put SAP into little boxes, but it’s evolved from being something of a one-trick-pony to now being an incredibly vast ecosystem.

How are you seeing organisations now employing the broad capability of SAP?

The big shift in more recent years has been to the cloud. I’ve personally done a lot of work using SAP in the asset management space, for example, and how the cloud enables connectivity in real time and with increasing complexity between assets and the systems used to manage, maintain, manufacture or supply them is transformative.

As an example, we recently played some key roles in a project where Christchurch City Council implemented SAP S/4HANA to better manage excess water demand, and more sustainably manage water supply. The project drove a 13% reduction in water consumption across households, which the council expects to rise to 20% in the coming year. As we all become more aware of the need to more sustainably manage resources, particularly water, this really demonstrates that transformative power.

What future capabilities are emerging with SAP that users will be tapping into?

The concept of the digital twin is something that’s now emerging. A lot of entities are looking at creating digital versions of their assets that are reflected fully in their systems as a way to model things like their performance under different conditions, or over time.

As we’re seeing traditional hardware constraints around things like memory falling away with the shift to the cloud, it’s allowing the simplification of complex data and in real time. However, with the pace of technological change increasing, organisations are needing to build usability and flexibility into their systems so they’re increasingly adaptable.

That’s where we’re seeing organisations drawing on SAP’s Business Technology Platform (BTP), which allows users to extend and personalise SAP applications. BTP is essentially a tool set that allows organisations to innovate, but to do so on the solid foundation of SAP’s mission-critical infrastructure.

What are some of the ways Datacom is using SAP to drive innovation?

Within the ecosystem of SAP partners, there’s a very small subset of around 20 globally that belong to a network called AppHaus. Datacom’s SAP practice is one of those partners, and the only one in New Zealand. The network leverages BTP to introduce human-centred design approaches to innovation, helping foster a UX-focused culture within our team and with those we work with.

A simple example is, we recently did a demo, but we didn’t want it to be ‘death by PowerPoint’. So we showed the solution in action and created a collaborative environment to talk through the customer’s problems, capture their feedback and consider it together. It’s a little bit intangible, but it’s really about considering the human impact of a solution and taking a design-led approach.

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