Analysis of Mark Chalfen’s Article on S/4HANA Maturity

Executive Summary

  • Bluefin Solutions has been a constant provider of false information on HANA and S/4HANA, as well as many other SAP topics.
  • In this article, we review the accuracy of an article by Mark Chalfen who provides false information about S/4HANA’s movement towards maturity and generally repeating what SAP wants customers to think about S/4HANA.
  • Mark Chalfen stated that he implemented S/4HANA at a time when S/4HANA could not be implemented. Did Mark Chalfen and Bluefin Solutions lie about this to attain more S/4HANA implementation business?

Introduction

In this article, I will review quotes from Mark Chalfen of Bluefin Solutions, that has been one of the greatest promoters of S/4HANA and HANA.

The Quotations

The Number of Live Customers on S/4HANA

“There is no one-size-fits-all answer here I am afraid. SAP S/4HANA has been around for just under two years. Over 150 customers are using the tool in a productive manner and there are a number of other productive projects in flight in addition to Proof of Concepts. I would expect this to increase to over 500 live customers by the end of 2016. However, when talking about SAP S/4HANA, you need to be precise around the version and the solution scope that is being deployed.”

It is 1/3 of the way through 2017 and even according to ASUS there are only 350 customers live on S/4HANA. But that is far too generous as ASUG counts customers that are really barely using the application.

S/4HANA Simplification?

“SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management is approximately six months old. This has a similar functional scope to SAP S/4HANA Finance, however the solution has been significantly simplified and further functionality has been added. Furthermore, a number of modules that were available in core SAP ECC are no longer available due to the ‘principle of one’.”

Incorrect. S/4HANA has had some functionality removed, but it has not been simplified.

First S/4HANA is a much more difficult implementation than ECC was because S/4HANA is still so immature and because of all the changes. The entire proposal of S/4HANA being simpler is deconstructed in the article Does S/4HANA Have a Simpler Data Model?

S/4HANA Finance is a Mature Product?

“The SAP S/4HANA Finance version is a mature product, based upon the number of productive customers utilising it and the duration it has been around. SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management is approaching maturity. Since its release in November 2015, there has been one Feature Pack Support released in February 2016 with another due in May 2016. These packs contain fixes to the solution that was delivered and add small chunks of new functionality.”

This is some wordsmithing in the extreme. “Approaching maturity” means it is immature. Why won’t Mark simply say it is immature? (that is easy, Mark makes his money in part by promoting S/4HANA, so may as well work for SAP sales)

Why dance around a very basic question of the state of S/4HANA? Secondly, those who have worked with S/4HANA finance debate its maturity at the time this article was written by Mark.

In April of 2016 Dennis Howlett of Diginomica has the following to say about the state of S/4HANA.

“The free S/4 HANA trials are available, I’ve tried some of the cloud modules but if I’m candid, they’re a tad anemic and barely qualify as modern. I poked around in the financials and the marketing module the last day or so and found that while holding promise, SAP hasn’t taken advantage of modern idioms to present a truly compelling offering. Asking me to select a company by its number and not its name for instance seems arcane. Asking me to name product segments with underscores between names is geeky and requires extra thinking.

Taken together, S/4 HANA must be viewed as a work in progress. On the upcoming earnings call, I am hoping that SAP will provide some clarity around S/4 HANA beyond the customer counts.”

This was interesting, because according to Dennis Howlett, even in April 2016, S/4HANA “does not appear to be a complete product.” However, SAP originally communicated a release in 2014 (the month unspecified) but the proposal here by Dennis Howlett is that over two years later S/4HANA Finance is still not complete.

Did Mark Chalfen Really Take a Client Live in 2016 on S/4HANA EM?

“I am lucky to be working on a system conversion project to SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management with a go-live of December 2016. The project utilises the latest functionality and scope for their conversion, with the assumption that the release in May will have further maturity.”

One would assume that as time passes an application that is being developed will have “further maturity,” but Mark is vigorously dancing around the topic of whether S/4HANA EM is complete. It isn’t. Furthermore, it is very likely that given the maturity of S/4HANA EM in 2016 that Mark Chalfen did not take this client live.

S/4HANA Moving Toward a More Mature Product?

“Given the number of releases scheduled, any organization looking at an SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management implementation with a go-live date of 2017 can feel comfortable in the knowledge that it will be moving to a more mature and well-supported product. SAP supports the first tranche of customers via the Customer Care program and RIG Program – Regional Implementation Group. It provides a free service for a small group of customers to ensure they have the latest product information.”

This is a strange statement. One does not “feel comfortable” with the knowledge that an application will become “more mature.” One feels comfortable when one is implementing an application that is complete. I should not have to explain this, but if an application is not completed, it normally is not implemented. When I worked for i2 Technologies we brought out a bunch of new products that mostly all bombed. The only way that i2 Technologies was able to push so many incomplete products out into the market was through salespeople lying about how complete these applications were. This is happening now with S/4HANA. But it is not only SAP that is lying about the state of S/4HANA, but their very large number of consulting partners that are in on misleading customers in order to get the most possible money for themselves.

Typically Large ECC Expenses Necessarily Further Increase with S/4HANA

ECC implementations have been extraordinarily expensive even when that product was quite mature.

“There are currently less than 300 SAP S/4HANA Fiori apps. I would expect this figure to double within a year, so if you are expecting or looking for a pure SAP Fiori ERP system, S/4HANA is not ready just yet.”

True. Fiori apps have now grown to over 8,000 (but SAP got caught classifying Fiori colored SAPGUI screens as Fiori). There are still very few people anywhere using Fiori. There would be more, but SAP made the decision to mostly restrict Fiori to HANA.

“There is no simple answer around the maturity of SAP S/4HANA. It is clear that it is “maturing”. For a high proportion of customers, significant benefits can be achieved with the current version of SAP S/4HANA (Finance and Enterprise Management).”

Repeating What SAP Wants Customers to Think About S/4HANA?

Actually, if you are not a pawn of SAP and part of their partner network and therefore have your speech controlled and have projects dangled in front of you in exchange for how much you kowtow to SAP, there is a very simple answer to the maturity of S/4HANA. It is not a completed product. But you can only point out that obvious fact if you are independent of SAP.

If you aren’t, the topic becomes very “complex.”

“Those customers I am talking to now who are considering SAP S/4HANA or working on a business case will find it to be a pretty mature solution come implementation. For those favouring a system conversion, looking at the solution as it is today, the jump is achievable. However, the further the product grows and matures, the bigger that jump will become and new installations will become even more popular.”

This entire paragraph can be translated into

“I am actively covering up the maturing of S/4HANA so that I can trick you into going ahead with a S/4HANA implementation.”

Consulting

This article is a testament to the corruption in the IT industry. Bluefin Solutions wants to make money implementing S/4HANA and so they will say anything to sell more S/4HANA, and Mark Chalfen replaced the highly inaccurate John Appleby (who as we have tracked was wrong in just about every one of his statements about HANA) as the primary hype man for HANA and S/4HANA, and Mark has continued in his footsteps providing a constant stream of false information about HANA and S/4HANA. This article is undifferentiated from Soviet-era propaganda or propaganda that comes out of Madison Avenue for selling toothpaste. But really all of the articles on Bluefin Solutions website are similar in nature. They have no directive to inform, but are mindless sales pieces.

See our The S/4HANA Implementation Study. for real story and details on actual S/4HANA implementations.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

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References

http://www.bluefinsolutions.com/blogs/mark-chalfen/april-2016/how-mature-is-sap-s-4hana-is-it-business-ready

The Evidence That The S/4HANA Suite Missed Its Release Deadlines

What This Article Covers

  • Introduction
  • State of S/4HANA Finance
  • The S/4HANA Roadmap
  • Fact of the Matter with S/4HANA Finance Customers

Introduction

During the review process for the S/4HANA implementation research, the topic was brought up that if SAP did not have clear dates on the release of the overall EM suite, how can it be proposed that S/4HANA missed its deadlines.

SAP S/4Roadmap

Here is a published roadmap from SAP on S/4HANA from the publication SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management Introduction and Innovations for extended Supply Chain.

In this slide from SAP, it shows Simple Finance (now Finance) was to be released in 2014, but that deadline appears to have slipped and Finance was released and generally discussed in February 2015. In fact, the official release date is a bit hazy. The is a SAP article on SAP’s site (which I have footnoted) that show S/4HANA was released in early February. There is an article about S/4HANA being “launched” in June 2014 at SAPPHIRE, but that is not necessarily the same thing as being released. Most likely that was a convenient time to give people an advanced view of S/4HANA. Certainly, in 2014 there would have been almost no S/4HANA Finance implementations. 

However, in this slide, SAP is predicting S/4HANA as a suite will be released in 2015. The plan was always to introduce the Finance module first, and for the rest of the suite to follow shortly after. This is the message that was delivered to account after account, telling customers that they should jump on Finance, and by the time they had implemented Finance, the entire suite would be ready to implement. It is now 1/3 of the way through 2017 and S/4HANA is still not a complete product. 

This is the message that was delivered to account after account, telling customers that they should jump on Finance, and by the time they had implemented Finance, the entire suite would be ready to implement. It is now 1/3 of the way through 2017 and S/4HANA is still not a complete product.

The question here is how great is SAP’s forecast inaccuracy.

How different was what occurred from what SAP said would happen?

Well, if S/4HANA was to be introduced in 2015, and S/4HANA is still not complete two years later, then we can’t say by how large of a margin SAP missed its deadlines.

It can only be said when S/4HANA as a suite is a complete. SAP is misleading customers by stating that S/4HANA is becoming incrementally more complete with each release, but obviously, that makes no sense. Completion is when the functionality within each of the modules is complete. It is quite possible that SAP could have completed another module of S/4HANA by now, or in the past if it had applied its development resources to just that module. However, SAP has chosen to develop all the modules incrementally.

Furthermore, it must be considered that SAP never stated that S/4HANA would be developed incrementally (as S/4HANA is currently being developed). Currently, we are awash in things like Simplification Lists, and various versions of S/4HANA that are incrementally developed versions of S/4HANA. But that was not SAP’s messaging in 2014. The proposal of SAP was that the new ERP system would be introduced int two phases. Finance in 2014 (in a complete form) and then the rest of the suite in 2015 in a complete form.

State of S/4HANA Finance

In April of 2016 Dennis Howlett of Diginomica has the following to say about the state of S/4HANA.

“The free S/4 HANA trials are available, I’ve tried some of the cloud modules but if I’m candid, they’re a tad anemic and barely qualify as modern. I poked around in the financials and the marketing module the last day or so and found that while holding promise, SAP hasn’t taken advantage of modern idioms to present a truly compelling offering. Asking me to select a company by its number and not its name for instance seems arcane. Asking me to name product segments with underscores between names is geeky and requires extra thinking.

Taken together, S/4 HANA must be viewed as a work in progress. On the upcoming earnings call, I am hoping that SAP will provide some clarity around S/4 HANA beyond the customer counts.”

This was interesting, because according to Dennis Howlett, even in April 2016, S/4HANA does not appear to be a complete product. However, SAP originally communicated a release in 2014 (the month unspecified) but the proposal here by Dennis Howlett is that over two years later S/4HANA Finance is still not complete.

Fact of the Matter with S/4HANA Finance Customers

The fact is that companies that implemented S/4HANA Finance do not have a complete ERP suite to connect to. That is a new development in the history of SAP’s ERP system. For a number of the companies on the S/4HANA list of implementations, the public case studies, these companies are only financing entities, and therefore they do not need the rest of the ERP suite. But for customers that intended to connect to the rest of the ERP suite, one has to wonder what their state of mind is now that the have invested in S/4HANA Finance.

The Media Coverage of the Missed Deadlines

This would seem to be a pertinent fact that would be reported by media entities that cover IT. However, I cannot find anyone covering this topic. Media entities like ComputerWeekly will report when SAP produces a press release, and also takes advertising from SAP. but in terms of checking whether previous statements/predictions actually came true, there is literally no coverage of the topic. A media entity in the IT space cannot expect to receive advertising if they spend time verifying vendor and consulting company statements. Therefore, the model seems to be to simply publish announcements by software vendors and consulting companies, and the more advertising they pay to these media entities, they more coverage the software vendors and consulting companies receive.

This specific topic was covered in more detail in the following article IT Media Output and the Fake News Debate.

See our The S/4HANA Implementation Study. for real story and details on actual S/4HANA implementations.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    This article is free, we do not answer questions for free. Filling out this form is for those that have a budget. If that describes you, just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch asap.

References

https://blogs.sap.com/2014/06/04/sap-simple-finance-launched-at-sapphire-now-2014/

http://news.sap.com/partner-quote-sheet-sap-unveils-next-generation-enterprise-software-new-business-suite-sap-s4hana/

https://www.sap-sbn.no/en/download/369

http://diginomica.com/2016/04/11/sap-pre-announces-a-miss-for-revenue-in-q1-fy2016-maintains-full-year-guidance-an-analysis/

An Analysis of the SAP S/4 1610 Information

Executive Summary

  • How accurate is the information communicated on S/4 ranging from real-time consolidation to Fiori to EWN and S/4, to PLM and EWM, data governance?

1610 S4

Introduction

I spent time analyzing the SAP document SAP S/4HANA 1610 Release Highlights. 1610 is the most recent release of S/4HANA.

Here are some of the quotes I found noteworthy and I have provided analysis of these statements.

On Real Time Consolidation

“Take advantage of instant access to transactional and master data in SAP S/4HANA for real-time consolidation. You can easily trace back to source data in SAP S/4HANA and other legacy source systems for the finest granularity and confidence.” – SAP

I have performed research on this topic of consolidation. This has been a primary marketing point for SAP. They have repeatedly stated that companies that use S/4 will save hundreds of hours in their end of period closing. SAP ties this to HANA’s superior speed as allowing this real-time consolidation to occur.

The inaccuracy in SAP’s statement is that consolidation is not entirely a systematic processing issue. Many judgments must be made, and they are human, and therefore real-time consolidation does not make a lot of sense.

SAP Applications to Connect to S/4

“Connect to business networks like never before. Finance can now take advantage of additional integrations with the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll solution and learning map, buyer-side Ariba® Invoice Management and Ariba Discount Management solutions, Concur® solutions, and SAP Fieldglass solutions.”

The SAP S/4HANA 1610 release simplifies human resources for both IT and business users. You can now simplify your IT environment with streamlined integration between SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors solutions to support end-to-end business processes. Business users can now utilize object pages to present worker-related data for both employees and contingent labor forces.

Reduce procurement hassle with catalog buying for self-service requisitioning processes and increased integration with business networks, such as the creation of sourcing requests in SAP Ariba solutions directly from SAP S/4HANA. Sourcing managers can enjoy increased visibility into supplier performance, purchasing spend, and business events with the new procurement overview page.” – SAP

All of this is marketing to get companies to buy other SAP solutions, namely Concur, Fieldglass, SuccessFactors, and Ariba. All of these are acquisitions. None of them have anything to do with S/4 except they have integration (with adapters in various stages of development). On the other hand, you can use other applications that are competitors to these SAP applications. In most to many cases, companies may want to because the SAP product may be a poor fit or may not be cost effective.

S/4HANA Fiori

“New SAP Fiori apps enable increased productivity for all users across collaborative sourcing, contract management, and supplier management functions. Daily activities such as managing purchasing info cards, contracts, sources of supply, and requests for quotes take full advantage of the award-winning SAP Fiori user experience (UX) – SAP

Increase sales productivity with new SAP Fiori apps that make it easier than ever to create, modify, and display sales orders on any device. Contextual information helps ensure your sales and sales-support teams have a comprehensive view of the customer to maximize satisfaction, including resolution of issues, at every step of the buying process.”

SAP continues the charade of presenting S/4HANA Fiori as if it is a complete user interface for S/4 when in fact it is just there to provide an assist. S/4HANA Fiori will have to be used alongside the SAPGUI to work correctly. S/4HANA Fiori how has 7671 “apps” (which aren’t apps in fact, but is another topic). This is a big change for S/4HANA Fiori. Up until very recently S/4HANA Fiori had less than 1200 apps and was growing at around 15 apps per month. How these new apps were added is something I need to analyze and will write about in a future article. There is something bizarre going on with the counting of the S/4HANA Fiori app number.

Any S/4 implementation will primarily use SAPGUI. I explain why in the following post.

The characterization of Fiori presented by SAP in its marketing literature is once again wholly inaccurate.

Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling

“Production planning and detailed scheduling have been integrated with SAP S/4HANA, allowing you to create production plans without relying on a separate planning instance. You can now optimize and plan resource schedules directly in the digital core, taking into account bottlenecks and other production challenges.”

“Material requirement planning (MRP) includes embedded production planning and detailed scheduling (PPDS) natively deployed without the need for complex integration and data maintenance to help drive accelerated MRP processing times from hours to potentially minutes and enable intelligent constraint-based planning and scheduling.”SAP Press Release

I have implemented PP/DS myself and can vouch for the fact that PP/DS is a lagging application in the space that is sold exclusively to SAP customers and it has a very poor implementation history. So the fact that PP/DS is now part of S/4HANA is not a good thing, and PP/DS will not meet the needs of the vast majority of customers. For this, a bold on will be required.

EWM

“Experience the power of the SAP Extended Warehouse Management application built into SAP S/4HANA, and unlock greater productivity throughout your warehouse. This means your warehouse clerks and operations personnel can enjoy increased access to real-time data, while IT can embrace a simplified technical landscape. Your entire organization benefits from reduced data duplication and replication to increase accuracy and decrease cost.”

As with PP/DS SAP is leveraging APO to jazz up S/4. EWM is a warehouse management module in APO. It was built at CAT logistics and is unsuitable for most shippers. But SAP tries to sell it into shippers anyway. EWM is a weak application with enormous complexity that is entirely uncompetitive with warehouse management applications. So again, the fact that EWM can be made to connect to S/4 is not much of an advantage as EWM is such a poor application.

PLM

“Manage embedded software versions with the SAP Product Lifecycle Management application in SAP S/4HANA. Maintain compatibility information and check product compatibility for easy deployment of embedded software across projects and products.

Take an integrated approach to accelerated product design with a tool that integrates SAP software for product lifecycle management with multiple CAD authoring tools. Provide a 360-degree product view, with total transparency across engineering disciplines, through a harmonized and intuitive user experience. Synchronize product metadata, structures, access, and file handling to bridge design data with business data for a comprehensive product description.” – SAP

This is recycled marketing puff from SAP’s many other attempts to penetrate the PLM market. I have read very close to the same thing at least eight times over the past nine years from SAP as SAP continually tried to gain a foothold in the PLM market.

Data Governance

“Help ensure a single source of truth with enterprise-wide governance using the SAP Master Data Governance application embedded within SAP S/4HANA. A new approach unifies industry materials and retail articles while using simplified master data to provide an easily managed corporate taxonomy. You can deploy user-friendly master-data-quality worklists for consistent, accurate data across the enterprise.”

There is no single source of truth. A single source of truth is fool’s gold. There are systems of record, but no single system of record. This is merely meaningless marketing speak.

For instance, S/4 cannot be the source of truth for all the other systems that a company uses unless S/4 is the only software that a company uses. I have read through several far more detailed documents on 1610, and I can’t find any evidence of this capability. I am quite suspicious of this proposal because SAP claimed something very similar for MDM and then MDG, and those applications never had many implementations.

There is no single source of truth. A single source of truth is fool’s gold. There are systems of record, but no single system of record. This is merely meaningless marketing speak. “Single source of truth” is the kind of information that once it is stated, the listener knows less than before they listened to it.

For instance, S/4 cannot be the source of truth for all the other systems that a company uses unless S/4 is the only software that a company uses. I have read through several far more detailed documents on 1610, and I can’t find any evidence of this capability. I am quite suspicious of this proposal because SAP claimed something very similar for MDM and then MDG, and those applications never had many implementations.

Conclusion

SAP’s literature in 1610 is filled with inaccuracies. Many of these claims on S/4 are not new for SAP. Most of these same arguments have been used in the past by SAP to describe either ECC or the other products mentioned above. However, they never came true previously.

SAP does the following:

  • Lying Through Omission: Leaves out important details (such as the fact that SAPGUI is critical to S/4HANA Fiori will only be incidental in use)
  • Non-Stop “SAP Universe” Selling: SAP talks up other SAP applications that don’t have anything to do with S/4 but can be connected to S/4. If the topic of the paper is S/4, then why does SAP spend so much coverage on items that are not part of S/4? Some of the audience that does not know may think that the products mentioned such as Concur, and SuccessFactors are part of S/4. It also does not follow that just because SAP has an offering that the offering is right for the SAP customer. Of each product mentioned, there are many competitors. If we look at SuccessFactors, sort of SAP’s showcase acquired product, it is known that there are some things it does well and others it doesn’t. SAP does not have the overall space of HR covered simply because they acquired SuccessFactors.
  • Understating Integration Efforts: SAP will have an advantage over other firms for integration because the data model from S/4 has changed. This will break the adapters that have been written for ECC. On the other hand, many of SAP’s new acquisitions face the same problem as third party applications are not entirely integrated to S/4. Therefore, just because SAP mentions that “S/4 can be connected to XYZ SAP product” does not mean that the integration to the product is ready, or is not in some half-finished state. I hear of lots of integration problems on projects where the acquired products have been implemented. More than any previous SAP ERP version, (and since so many of the products mentioned in the SAP information are acquisitions), SAP customers must very thoroughly check how much integration they are obtaining from a purchase of these non-S/4 products. SAP and consulting partners will do everything in their power to provide the inaccuracy that every SAP application has a completed integration adapter to S/4.
  • Wishful Thinking: SAP proposes, and would like the user to assume, a lot of competence in application areas like production planning and scheduling and PLM. However, SAP has never had useful products in these areas. Production scheduling and PLM are a problem on every single SAP account currently. And it’s unlikely much will have changed merely because SAP is now introducing it under S/4. I could do the same thing. Say that I will win a Nobel Prize, compete in the Olympics or become a fashion model. But if I don’t have any history of being good in any of these things why anyone would believe me?
  • Hiding The Readiness of S/4: SAP does not let on for a second that the S/4 suite is not a finished product. SAP has continued to present this falsehood for several years. S/4 1610, as with the S/4 versions before it comes with a “simplification list.” This is the list of the changes made to S/4. The list is 408 pages long and takes a serious commitment of time to read. And in the next few months, there will be a new simplification list, of similar length that will also have to be digested. Since it is an expensive resource who could make sense of this document, this means researching the simplifications list is expensive (relatively speaking) to fund. Companies will fund a database administrator position or someone who they can trace some concrete output, but they dislike financing background research like this. I can see many companies skipping this detailed analysis in the beginning and finding out the details during the implementation.

SAP could publish a much easier to understand the document that shows the percentage of functionality in each area that is complete, the percentage that has changed, the portion that has been disappeared. However, they do not do that. There is no documentation for the marketing information I have quoted above and the detailed simplification list which is only readable by far smaller audience and which requires its detailed analysis.

Overall this SAP literature is unreliable and is not useful for much more than criticism or humor. It is amazing to me that the information in this SAP document will be read or used by anyone to decide on S/4.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    This article is free, we do not answer questions for free. Filling out this form is for those that have a budget. If that describes you, just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch asap.

References

Risk Estimation and Calculation

Risk Estimation and Calculation

See our free project risk estimators that are available per application. The provide a method of risk analysis that is not available from other sources.

project_software_risk

http://www.sap.com/documents/2016/10/9e49aa81-927c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.html#

http://news.sap.com/sap-s4hana-enhancements-accelerate-digital-transformation/