JS Irick is the head of development at TruQua Enterprises, LLC.

Greetings from Prague, where I just finished presenting at SAPinsider Financials 2018. In between visiting the castle, bridges, and museums, TruQua presented eight sessions, where conference attendees learned more about SAP Central Finance, S/4HANA, SAPAnalytics Cloud, Machine Learning and Driver-Based Planning. Below are my five key takeaways from SAPinsider Financials 2018. 

1)  It’s not Business Planning. It’s Collaborative Enterprise Planning.
I really like this branding decision, as it empowers customers and consultancies with a strong understanding of the enterprise as a whole.“Destroying data silos” sounds great in the abstract, but without the cross-disciplinary skillset necessary to leverage the unified view of your business, you won’t truly seize the value provided. Drill Back has changed from a Finance-to-Finance concept, to a Finance-to-Business one. HR, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Trade Promotion all have incredibly rich solutions, and theability to integrate these solutions through the planning process providesunparalleled agility through Collaborative Enterprise Planning.

2) Get busy living in S/4 and SAC.
The SAP message is clear: S/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud are the future. Even if these technologies are years down your roadmap, there are ways to begin seizing value from these technologies right now. SAP Analytics Cloud, with its strong connectivity, provides carve-out planning and analytics scenarios which provide for exceptionally quick time-to-value. From an  S/4HANA perspective, there is a significantly quicker option for S/4HANA Finance with CentralFinance, which significantly cuts both the risk and cost. Even with S/4HANAwell down the road, working on an Analytics roadmap in addition to your technical roadmap ensures that your journey to the Digital Core will drive true Financial Transformation.

3) SAPinsider conferences provide tremendous access and value.
Well-prepared and well-informed customers will always get the most from their consulting dollar. Looking at the table next to me during a brief pause in “Ask the Experts,” I saw SAP’s Senior Director of Product Marketing for Planning & Analysis, working with customers to define theirAnalytics roadmap with SAC, and SAP’s Global Solution owner for CentralFinance, discussing Central Finance strategy and roadmap. Meanwhile, one ofTruQua’s principal Consultants was walking a customer through the selection criteria for Master Data harmonization in Central Finance. Each of these brief discussions provided value more than worth the price of the event. My recommendation is to attend the conference with key questions/areas of interest, and to take advantage of the access provided during the designated times.

4)  The difference between the “haves” and“have-nots” in Analytics is striking, especially in terms of AI/ML.
As a professional, you must be your own best advocate and as your analytics opportunities grow, you must have a vendor and implementation partner who can pierce the veil and provide you with real insight, real education and real enablement.  There are few things more dangerous to your business than blindly following “black box” statistics or non-describable AI. SAP is doing a great job at bringing in these technologies in an explainable way, but it is up to customers to make sure they are constantly striving for transparency in their processes.

5) The future of SAP remains bright.
Visiting the SAP Analytics booth to discuss the latest SAC, S/4HANA, Central Finance and group reporting reaffirmed that the future of SAP is in great hands. Additionally, walking the conference floor and checking in with strong SAP partners such as Vertex and Tagetik showed the power of SAP HANA as a platform and the rewards that SAP’s dedication to integration brings their customers. Visiting one of the world’s great cities and collaborating with bright, engaged SAP and partner team members was inspiring.  The tools that SAP develops allow TruQua to partner with their customers and solve their biggest business challenges.

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