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Organizations across the globe are looking to remain steady as they react and respond to uncertainty. SAP has made multiple announcements over the past few weeks, including naming Christian Klein sole CEO, a solid start to the first quarter in 2020 and positive outlook for the remainder of the year, and the availability of the 2005 release of SAP S/4HANA. This comes just in time to help organizations navigate business amid challenging conditions.

The quarterly release, sent to SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers, promises faster time to value with two main themes. First, SAP continues its integration story and delivery on its committed road map. And second, SAP is providing more functional scope and automation capabilities covering a broader area of processes.

According to the SAP Q1 2020 earnings report, there are currently 14,100 licensed SAP S/4HANA customers, and of those about 6,700 are live on either on-premise or cloud deployments. ASUG spoke to Oliver Betz, senior VP and global head of product management for SAP S/4HANA, about what the 2005 release means for customers now and what the road map is going forward.

Deep Dive into SAP S/4HANA Release 2005

SAP provides updates to SAP S/4HANA on a quarterly basis for cloud customers and on an annual basis for on-premise customers. Each release is designed to introduce enhancements to the platform so that customers can fully adopt intelligent technologies and innovate. That’s more important now than ever before.

“Generally speaking,” Betz said, “overall SAP S/4HANA adoption is stable. We have customers who were in the middle of their projects and are looking to finalize them because it’s even more important now to have a modernized ERP system that will provide the insights that they need.”

According to SAP, the latest release “continues to advance intelligent enterprise resource planning as the cornerstone of the intelligent enterprise, doubling down on integration and efficiency, and providing significant functional enhancements in key lines of business.”

Integration and Automation Help Keep Business Afloat

Release 2005 specifically focuses on integration and automation in the areas of compliance management, finance, and HR connectivity. It does this across key lines of business, including supply chain, manufacturing, sales, service, and finance.

Some of the key highlights include the full integration of SAP Global Trade Services and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, which will allow for a best-in-breed deployment of an international trade solution and ensure compliance with international trade regulations. Additionally, an integration between SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central will allow customers to achieve faster onboarding of new employees with automated user and role provisioning. Customers using SAP S/4HANA Cloud for finance now have enhanced integration with SAP Analytics Cloud, which allows for integrated financial planning and budgeting. There are also new integrations with SAP Ariba, as well as enterprise portfolio and project management.

“All of this is key for customers who are looking to use analytics and automation to help keep operations going,” Betz said. “We have customers who are operating with a reduced workforce for various reasons, so whenever you can automate and reduce manual interaction and keep business stable and reliable, that’s a good thing.”

Keeping the Focus on Innovation

Although the general availability of release 2005 is currently only for cloud customers, on-premise customers have this and more to look forward to in November 2020.

“We have a pipeline of functional, integration, and automation upgrades lined up for the 2008 and 2011 releases, too,” Betz said. “We work with customers through the SAP Influence Council to get feedback on where enhancements are needed. And although we’ve been working on these for a while, what we have lined up in the road map are key enhancements that will address many of the concerns customers have today and could potentially have after the pandemic.”

Betz acknowledged that although most SAP S/4HANA customers have an on-premise deployment, he believes the future will lead to a more hybrid landscape. “They will have some parts on the cloud and some on-premise,” he said. “But we provide flexibility so that they can pick and choose what works best for them.” He added, “A cloud deployment allows for quicker implementation and gives you access to insights that you need faster.”

SAP says this latest release of SAP S/4HANA delivers on the integration road map, innovation commitment, and broadening of functionality it laid out, and this will continue going forward. “There are different flavors of SAP S/4HANA.” Betz said. “And whichever one customers choose, we will support them.”

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