September 21, 2018
Frictionless business: Supporting cross-industry partnerships at scale with the new SAP
By: Jordi Roca

This is the age of the platform business. Digital native companies, like Amazon, that can scale their business through technology-driven partnerships are seizing market share and reinventing whole industries.

The challenge for companies that weren’t born digital? Legacy business systems simply weren’t built to support these tech-driven partnerships at scale. That’s why internal transformations and adoption of new technologies are critical for incumbents to get the most out of these partnerships and stay in the game.

#TechVision2018 for SAP is out – Learn about @SAP’s essential role in the five #TechTrends we see defining #DigitalBusiness


It’s what Frictionless Business, the fourth trend in Accenture’s 2018 Technology Vision is all about. Every company’s technology architecture must evolve to support strategic technology-based partnerships, as seamlessly as possible. Increasingly today, that means embracing micro-services and blockchain as must-have capabilities.

In this latest blog, I’m taking a look at how SAP Leonardo makes frictionless business happen. No platform, on its own, can provide all the functionality a truly frictionless business needs. But as a truly open platform, with micro-services that use APIs to link to technology stacks within and outside the enterprise, SAP Leonardo can and does provide that functionality and facilitate exponential growth.

Now we’re ready to deploy a digital decoupling strategy to accelerate the frictionless business through principally SAP-centric technology. We can align business priorities, decoupling the back (e.g. SAP S/4HANA, Ariba, SuccessFactors) from the front SAP Leonardo and SAP C/4HANA, creating a layer where big data, IoT, customer experience, and so on, can be managed. The back and the front are decoupled, but remain integrated in real time.

Using the “new SAP”, we’re putting micro-services and blockchain to work in some of the 100+ SAP-based applications we’ve now developed using SAP Leonardo, SAP c/4 HANA and S/4 HANA and SAP Cloud Platform. Let’s take a closer look at one of them.

Our application, Pharmachain, uses third-party blockchain solutions, integrated with the SAP Leonardo platform, and using SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Leonardo IoT and analytics, to trace materials throughout the pharma supply-chain. The objective? Ensuring that every patient receives the genuine product.

Tracing materials fabrication, transportation and usage in real time, and providing analysis and integration capabilities, Pharmachain transforms medicine/pharmaceutical tracking to help prevent fraud throughout the supply chain. That’s of critical importance in some countries. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 percent of all medical products on sale in developing countries are counterfeit.

Only authorized, trusted parties can join the chain and record data. And each transaction is tracked, time-stamped and registered by the application, every step of the way. What’s more, all changes have to be validated by consensus. Now, when an unauthorized actor tries to sell a stolen or imitation medicine to a distributor, Pharmachain detects and stops the fraud.

Another application we’ve developed, Customer Experience Cockpit, is a great example of the way SAP Leonardo uses micro-services to bring the frictionless intelligent business to life. Our solution supports complex field technician tasks by providing comprehensive, customer-centric views across SAP C/4 HANA and S/4 HANA (with all relevant data accessed via micro-services).

Using SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Leonardo IoT, SAP Leonardo machine learning and third-party augmented reality technologies, the application uses sensors on equipment to provide real-time IoT data, such as asset location and status alerts. When a fault occurs, a high-priority message is sent to the service manager. They assign the ticket to a field technician and a repair is scheduled.

Using Customer Experience Cockpit, the technician locates the equipment and uses the application’s AR function and HoloLens to get all relevant information on the alert. It provides a 360-degree view of the machine and the affected parts, along with detailed instructions on how to carry out the repair.

It’s far quicker than usual machinery repair. And, crucially, no action is required from the customer. It’s all part of the service. That really matters at a time when so many companies are struggling to improve the customer experience they provide (our research shows that 60 percent of customers have switched brands because the service they receive fails to match expectations).

Next time, I’ll be looking at the fifth and last trend in this series, Internet of Thinking. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your views on this blog, so please get in touch or leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

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