Since 2007, Vodafone has been advocating the digital transformation of its support functions by bringing in the technology of SAP in finance, HR, and supply chain operations. Fast-forward to 2020, the telecom company continues to optimise SAP’s intelligent solutions, specifically SAP S/4HANA.
In November 2019, Vodafone has rolled out a global project with SAP and Accenture that would be carried out across 26 countries and over 130 legal entities. The objective of the massive project is to establish a single digital core based on the ERP system SAP SAP S/4HANA and to enhance operational efficiency in finance, supply chain, and IT.
Aside from the SAP ECC system migration to SAP S/4HANA, which became one of the five largest SAP S/4HANA instances worldwide, the project also rolled out SAP’s peripheral SaaS products Concur, SuccessFactors and Ariba.
Today, Vodafone’s successful SAP S/4HANA implementation continues to enhance operational efficiencies across its “support functions”– finance, HR, and supply chain– transforming the company into an intelligent enterprise.
On Becoming an Intelligent Enterprise
Through the years, SAP and Vodafone have developed a partnership that goes beyond a supplier-customer relationship. According to Holger Grewe, Group Head of Corporate Transformation, and Ignacio Garcia, CIO of Corporate Systems, at Vodafone, SAP has become a strategic partner that accelerates the telecom’s digital transformation.
“The first step was really quite cumbersome, because going from market to market to do this takes quite some time. The first step took us four to five years. The S/4 step is about optimising the processes and also optimising the user experience,” Grewe detailed.
“It is also fair to say in the old [SAP] ECC world, we had this one, single-instance system, and it was very difficult to get the data out of the system and do the appropriate analysis. With S/4 now, we are really able to get the data and insight out much easier,” he stressed.
Grewe is in charge of data governance across all functions and regions; setting up and running SAP S/4HANA for finance, supply chain, and HR; SAP Concur travel booking and expenses; and logistics with enhanced warehouse management.
The Power of HANA
SAP S/4HANA is a truly modern ERP system with embedded AI and machine learning that provides next-generation processes connecting the entire business. It can be deployed on-premise, in a public or private cloud, or a hybrid environment.
CIO Garcia shared how the migration to SAP S/4HANA has brought computing power and greater insights to Vodafone. Before, it was a challenge to analyse the huge data from the telecom’s hundreds of thousands of towers. Now with SAP S/4HANA, Vodafone has predictive analysis on the data of all those assets.
Garcia also highlighted how the telecom company optimises SAP S/4HANA’s capability to integrate with external data sources and IoT data, which used to be a challenge to them. He said that SAP S/4HANA opens its system to a fully digital experience.
“We have managed to optimise our own operations and be far more efficient. We have killed all the legacy and the extra complexity that we had in the landscape. So, I would say yes, the power of HANA is fundamental, not just for computing but equally for integration,” he exclaimed.
In terms of simplifying the Vodafone’s enterprise software landscape, Garcia explained that the telecom’s system now integrates with all the local markets, which involves 1,000 interfaces with different systems. He said:
“We have data flowing across the company. And this is at the heart of our finance function and everything. But that simplicity and integration is also key because the integrity of the data and the fact there is no breaking down is what allows us to be more digital.”
Recognising how fast technology and Vodafone’s huge enterprise is evolving, the telecom will, eventually, move it’s current SAP S/4HANA deployment on-premise to the cloud according to Garcia.