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Integration Key to maximising SAP Investment

Integration Key to maximising SAP Investment

The most important thing you need in your digital strategy right now is the ability to change it.  According to Mkinsey  “Businesses that once mapped digital strategy in one- to-three year phases must now scale their initiatives in a matter of days or weeks”. (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/digital-strategy-in-a-time-of-crisis#)

In order to remain competitive, and deal with the huge amount of change and uncertainty, the enterprise has had to rapidly reinvent the way services are delivered and provisioned. Businesses are challenged with an increasing number of opportunities to improve – the evaluation and implementation can be long and resource draining. The cost of innovating can be expensive. Often any new initiatives require integration with existing legacy systems like SAP, something that can be challenging and prohibitively expensive.

As more and more businesses turn to Cloud Services, the race to adopt standard and open Integration protocols, whilst remaining cost effective in the shortest time possible, remains a challenge. 

Most businesses are now facing increased cloud integration costs, poor app performance, and a lack of a foundation for further innovation as a consequence.

But let’s take a step back and understand what are open, standard integration protocols?

For several years Enterprise System vendors have been adopting the API – Application Programming Interface – as a means of integration.  An API is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building integration across enterprise systems and data sources. They cover a set of requirements that govern how one application can talk to another. 

API’s have now become mainstream and it’s hard to find a system that does not provide an API suite as the preferred method of integration. In fact, we have now entered the era of API standardisation. Instead of creating new API’s for each and every integration, enterprise vendors have not only begun publishing API catalogs, they have also begun to provide tools with which to create new API’s, according to a set of standards. Many vendors have rewritten their code base to accommodate this, including Windows 10, MYOB Advanced and the SAP Hanna Cloud Platform.. 

Why have they done this? One important reason for this is to be able to accommodate the ever increasing rate of change in enterprise technology. The mainstream adoption of cloud computing with on-demand services, mobility, IoT and Big Data are all happening fast and at the same time. In order to beat the clock, enterprise vendors are opting to adopt “add-on” products to “compliment” their offering instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. This has made it easier for customers to integrate systems and innovate like never before. Vendor marketplaces have sprung up offering a host of complementary tools and capabilities, all built on open standard integration protocols.

So how do we manage this change? How do we build a culture of innovation in the backdrop of this ever changing, growing and interconnected technological landscape? In reality, this is not so easy for enterprise businesses and unfortunately they are still struggling to make any real cost effective difference. In order to work with these open services companies themselves need adequate resources and tools to do so. Companies are now considering the cost benefits associated with adopting platform technology to standardise and simplify integration and app delivery capabilities across the organisation. Platform technology has certainly stepped up to the plate, in terms of consuming APIs, and supporting the delivery of new innovative solutions. This is indeed the next phase in the evolution of rapid enterprise application innovation.

Gartner’s predicts that 90 percent of organisations will use an integrated IaaS and PaaS provider by 2021.  (https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2018-09-12-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-public-cloud-revenue-to-grow-17-percent-in-2019)

The spotlight for this segment is how the TOKN Integration Platform connects with the SAP S/4 Hanna Cloud edition to accelerate innovation and drive real transformation. The latest SAP edition comes with access to the SAP Business Hub (https://api.sap.com/), a published catalog of API. This will allow third party systems to integrate with the S/4 Hanna system in certain ways. 

The problem is APIs are often quite generic and there is often only a limited set of API’s. Let’s assume you wanted to create a specific digital application or solution that you believe will add value to your business. Let’s assume you want a field technician to view a maintenance order status in the field, take notes and confirm parts used. Firstly you check the SAP business hub and you find a generic API for that information.  But then you notice that the API has many fields that you don’t need or are perhaps not interested in. Secondly you notice that the one thing you do need – the material/part information – is missing, now what do you do?

Part of the standard service plan for the TOKN Integration Platform includes a cloud based API Management module, TOKN Connect. Built-in, with no additional licence fee, means you can manage integration to external systems and API’s, in one easy to use framework when and how you need to. The API framework supports Rest web service, OData web services, Java connector SOAP web services and more. This means you can connect to a whole host of external systems like SAP, quickly and at low cost.

In our field technician example, TOKN makes integration easier by quickly mapping endpoints for the provided API and allowing for specific data selections. TOKN provisions data structures for the required fields only so you can build a solution, test it rapidly and change it easily if you need to, so that you can ensure it will add value to your business. TOKN also has the ability to access data where a generic API may not yet have been provided by the vendor. Using industry standards, TOKN has the capability to provision its own API services. So that missing material/part data, is now no longer a struggle.

If you are interested in getting the most out of your ERP, while ensuring your strategy is future proofed and flexible, take a look at our platform today.

Posted
March 30, 2021

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