Whether you’re a hungry consumer ordering a pizza for delivery or an under-pressure supplier trying to track orders for parts, you want SPEED, SIMPLICITY, and SEAMLESS EXPERIENCES. Delays mean frustration. And for business leaders and IT teams alike, the greater the friction, the bigger the risk of losing customer loyalty.
Some businesses simply can’t provide the friction-free experiences their customers and employees crave. The problem lies in complex legacy technology, where end-to-end data-flow is difficult to achieve. Data is often split between on-premise and cloud environments, and poor integration between SAP and non-SAP systems means it’s impossible to leverage information to its full potential. And the cost of low synchronization between core ERP and 3rd-party systems is high.
For example, a global business using Oracle Transport Management can’t gain actionable insight from its supply chains. Its accounting department might rely on Sage but can’t use data from other systems. And the marketing team might only ever get a partial view of customer information — despite its huge investment in Salesforce.
‘Frictionless’ experiences require easy, omnichannel, real-time data flow across physical infrastructure and business apps: the kind of IT that empowers employees instead of hampering them. Whether it’s a remote point of sale (PoS) solution for your sales reps, systems for your supply chain, or programs for gaining better insight from your customer data: if you want to make it easy, integrating SAP and non-SAP systems is a challenge you need to overcome.
Traditional challenges to integrate with SAP
Here are some common difficulties CIOs and business leaders face in integrating with SAP — maybe some of these sound familiar.
- On-premise and the cloud
SAP systems are often kept on-premise while other business-critical SaaS platforms such as Salesforce or Microsoft Azure sit within diverse public clouds. IT teams need integrate the servers they can see with those they can’t. Security concerns have to be balanced against the need to expose specific SAP functions and data to systems in the cloud.
- Mesh-like interfaces
As businesses grow, they become reliant on more and more systems. This often leads to customized code and a fragile web of bi-directional interfaces that keep diverse systems talking to one another. Environments like these are brittle and they demand huge maintenance and updates just to keep running. When the business needs to add another new app, things get even more complex.
- Keeping the lights on is a never-ending battle
In a complex environment like the above, in-house ABAP developers are forced to spend too much time on maintenance and rework, and not enough on innovation. They need standards like RESTful APIs that will enable them to future proof your environment.
- Multiple languages
ABAP dev teams are well versed in business processes and creating apps that drive them. But working with multiple coding languages and system connectors — like PHP, Java, .NET or SAP’s unique language, logic, and processes — is often a big challenge, meaning CIOs look for external support for a large-scale (and costly) system integration projects.
- Employee buy-in is a challenge
IT leaders need to give employees the tools to get the job done. If business users become frustrated, they will either disengage or find workarounds. The simpler and more efficient you can make it for them, the more time they can spend on value-add activity — like delighting customers.
Poor integration between SAP and non-SAP means business stagnation. CIOs must ask: What is using our ABAP developers and system integrators just to keep the lights on costing us in terms of opportunity? What could we do if those same teams were focused on building new business apps that we know would integrate seamlessly?
Three ways to play
CIOs looking to break the deadlock have three options for integrating with SAP:
1.) Creating a dedicated in-house integration team
When new business apps are demanded ‘now’, developers prioritize speed over consolidation. This adds to the already fragmented landscape, and dev teams soon find themselves bogged down in costly reworks instead of creating more new apps. Building a separate in-house integration team will allow you to fight the symptoms on a day-to-day basis. But it’s costly. It causes bottlenecks and doesn’t eliminate the root cause.
2.) Buying-in a systems integrator to handle all your SAP integrations
Outside expertise provides vital skills. It allows you to flex spend up and down as the workload demands and may even bring knowledge of 3rd-party systems. But CIOs are at the mercy of contractors’ timelines and carry the risk of outsourcing knowledge of how internal systems are run. And the systems integrator has no reason to fix underlying problems or future-proof integrations, as this would deny them future work with you.
3.) Using a low-code app development platform that integrates with all systems, including SAP
An SAP-centric solution like Neptune Software’s low-code platform is built to integrate with all your on-premise and cloud systems. It’s the CIOs secret weapon that cuts the time and complexity in getting systems talking, and is ready to expose all ABAP classes and unify your data to a single source for all 3rd-party systems and SAP. The low-code platform’s consumer-grade UX makes integration work fast and simple, freeing your ABAP developers to build the Fiori apps that will drive business processes – and success – for years to come.