Innovation & Technology

How SAP extensions support your intelligent enterprise

Discover the key to short release cycle innovation.
Matthijs Mennens
Matthijs Mennens
Consultants at brainfuel event

As an Innovation Manager or Director, you are continuously engaged in your company’s growth and innovation strategy. This means that you face various business challenges on a daily basis. It takes time, budget, resources, insights, and more to innovate. All these aspects increase the pressure on successful innovation projects.

Extending with SAP Business Technology Platform (previously known as SAP Cloud Platform) services enables you to kick-start innovation in your company. We’ll explain how!

Innovate with short release cycles

Many disruptive companies and groundbreaking startups rely on a so-called “Rapid Innovation Cycle”. They apply shorter innovation cycles to efficiently implement and launch new initiatives. These startups and disruptors obviously have a competitive advantage: they rarely depend on large ERP systems or CRMs such as those used in your company. It allows them to innovate and scale faster. In the past, a lot of organizations built customized solutions or workarounds within their core foundation. Usually to support specific industry processes in addition to the standard functionality of ERP. These customizations usually lasted almost up to twenty years. Nowadays, those specific solutions are quickly becoming obsolete because they no longer support the latest technological developments or upgrades.

Thankfully, SAP-driven companies now have the opportunity to innovate without sacrificing the core processes and capabilities of their powerful ERP. Via the SAP Business Technology Platform, which we compare with a large Lego box filled with all kinds of building blocks, companies can develop custom work in a flexible layer that runs on top of the ERP system. The layer runs in the cloud and it enables companies to create customized apps, to expand ERP functionality and to integrate various on-premise and cloud applications. This way, they get the maximum out of the ‘keep the core clean’ concept. Extensions built via Business Technology Platform are integrated directly into the end-to-end process so processes are optimally aligned with each other. The ‘Keep the core clean’-concept makes it easier to update and improve the core (like ERP, ECC, S/4HANA) on a regular basis.

The platform enables companies to develop new applications in a flexible way with open APIs and numerous open-source programming languages. Therefore, Business Technology Platform not only works with SAP but also with public cloud providers such as AWS, Google and Microsoft. This gives companies the opportunity to easily develop and deploy applications and to scale up quickly. End-users seem to be the big winners. They don’t care where an application runs or where the data comes from, as long as the right data is available at the right time. With services such as Chatbots, Predictive Analytics and Digital Assistants, new intelligent technologies offer even more support to be able to perform your work as efficiently as possible.

In short, SAP Business Technology Platform streamlines your end-to-end processes, lets data flow precisely throughout your entire organization and is also directly “enterprise-proof” in the field of security, governance and compliance. But above all, you create a flexible shell to respond quickly to new innovations and to keep the digital core clean.

Welcome to SAP Business Technology Extension Suite

SAP Business Technology Platform offers another nice feature: the Extension Suite. This cloud-native extensibility framework was created for every Intelligent Enterprise. Developers have access to standard methods for extending SAP Solutions and developing extensions and applications.

The Extension Suite comes with a great number of advantages:

Maximum agility

There is no doubt about it: it becomes considerably easier to link existing extensions to the core SAP Applications. But… it also becomes a lot more efficient to de-couple them. Simultaneously, the easy connection and disconnection enable you to work independently from your SAP Solution life cycle, which results in faster release cycles for extensions.

Openness & flexibility

To many people, SAP is considered a black box. Nevertheless, the German software company has made a lot of efforts to open up the platform in recent years. The Extension Suite is evidence of this. After all, users receive built-in open-source technology support and can rely on the third-party services they need.

Furthermore, the flexibility of Business Technology Platform increases thanks to the Extension Suite. You can choose the infrastructure of your choice (Cloud-native, AWS, GCP, Azure or Alibaba Cloud), which makes vendor lock-in a thing of the past. You can also choose the runtime of your choice, whether you want to use Cloud Foundry, Kyma, ABAP Environment or even serverless.

Easy orchestration

A central repository allows developers to easily access APIs, events, credentials, … and all other kinds of data while creating new extensions. This increases the efficiency and effectiveness of developers, so they can focus on their passion. All of this results in the central management of all your SAP Application Extensions.

No loss of performance

If we don’t get to the SAP core processes, we can’t limit or restrict our capabilities. Extending SAP Solutions helps us to avoid core process changes. We can benefit from maximum performance and take full advantage of the opportunities offered by core processes.

In a nutshell: extensions provide the opportunity to quickly spot, test and take full advantage of new opportunities, applying a plug-and-play principle.

Customer cases

Some customer cases to illustrate the possibilities of the SAP Business Technology Platform:

  • Multi-Edit AppA SAPUI5 app that connects to a Cloud for Customer (Sales Cloud) tenant and allows users to quickly and easily find and edit opportunities. Authentication is done using SAP Cloud Identity with Single Sign-on so that users can effortlessly use the app.
  • Finance Analytics: The customer needed a way to provide certain financial information in an understandable way. The solution was a Fiori launchpad with Smart Business Service tiles that got converted and calculated data from a HANA DB. This HANA DB is connected to several ECC Systems using Smart Data Integration.
  • Sourcing request app: The goal of the project was to create several SAPUI5 applications that could simplify sourcing requests. The front end of the project had been developed with SAPUI5 and SAP HANA was used in the back end. A workflow was created on the SAP Business Technology Platform to control the flow of the sourcing request. Document service and other APIs were used to retrieve documents and other data.
  • Chatbot with SAP Conversational AI: This project featured a chatbot that could respond to questions or requests. The application consisted of several layers. The user could interact with the top layer of Workchat. The user’s input was passed via a NodeJS application on SAP Cloud Foundry to the chatbot created with the SAP Conversational AI.
  • Goods receipt application: The goal of the project was to create an application that could mimic some of the functionalities of VIM in a modern and more user-friendly way. It was developed with ABAP and SAPUI5.
  • Purchase Order approval application: An application that allows users to list, display and release purchase orders. Development was done with ABAP and SAPUI5.
  • SAP PM Fiori application: The goal was to create an application that enabled creating, editing and viewing notifications. ABAP and SAPUI5 were the technologies used for the desktop version. Cordova was added to create an actual application for Android devices.
  • Planning tool: This tool allows managers to create timesheets for employees and retrieve all kinds of relevant information and KPIs. Development was done on the SAP Business Technology Platform and included the Fiori launchpad. The following technologies were used:  SAP CAP and SAPUI5.

Curious about all the possibilities of SAP Extensions? Request a free demo or contact us for more information!