Solve Your Toughest SAP Integration Scenarios
Meet the Authors
⇨ Understand the complexities and nuances of integrating applications with SAP.
⇨ Navigate the integration partner landscape and how to differentiate between key solutions.
⇨ Discover why integration needs to be atop your priority list when it comes to IT initiatives.
SAP integration has rapidly risen in the ranks as a chief pain point and challenge for SAP customers worldwide. Our recent SAPinsider executive research report, The CIO’s 2023 Agenda for SAP, SAP S/4HANA, the Cloud, and Beyond, published in April this year, also revealed that integration skills were among the most crucial SAP-related skillsets for tech executives.
With business applications continuing to proliferate as businesses try out and buy new applications, the IT teams are increasingly being tasked with enabling and managing the rapidly expanding solutions portfolio and data. However, this is easier said than done.
SAPinsider recently sat down with Gerald Schlechter, founder and CSO of enosix, and Matthew Hail, Chief Technology Officer of enosix, to understand why SAP integration is a challenge for most organizations, and how they are tackling this critical challenge.
Why is SAP integration a burden for organizations?
Integration challenges are not new for IT or business teams. But their complexity has significantly increased over the years. And the reason is the rapid increase in the number of applications that are being implemented.
A recent SAPinsider report, SAP Data Management Strategies, found that organizations are running an average of 23 data warehouses, 40 different databases, 18 data lakes, and 22 data tools—and this doesn’t include other business applications or utilities adoption. Most software companies have become cloud vendors who are creating native cloud solutions and offerings that are cheaper to buy and install. In many cases, business executives do not consult their IT teams during such buying decisions and often overlook integration aspects or challenges.
Integration with ECC and SAP S/4HANA is complicated, as SAP has multiple nuances, dependencies, and ways to access its core data and applications. Adding to the complexity are custom integrations using direct RFC calls, BAPIs, etc., that companies have built over the years and added to their ecosystems. But integrating applications such as Salesforce or ServiceNow with an SAP ERP instance is not simple or straightforward.
Additionally, upgrading SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA requires integration scenarios to be modified, tested, and migrated, which can derail or lengthen project upgrade.
“It is not easy to navigate SAP technology when it comes to integration. You must understand the concept of BAPIs and RFCs and there are so many new solutions coming to the market and with that, more options for connecting them,” cautions Schlechter.
Managing, supporting, and updating these connections is a significant challenge that the internal IT organization must deal with. With an already existing shortage of technical and business application skillsets, Schlechter and Hail contend that this can be expensive and time-consuming and can further hamper organizations from solving their integration challenges. “Organizations typically don’t have the luxury of hiring very specialized integration specialists & integration developers to execute those projects – those resources are very hard to recruit & keep as most of the SIs are recruiting them. For this reason, integration tools must be targeted for IT Admins & Citizen Integrators to fuel innovation and speed of delivery within the organization.”
enosix’s mission is to solve such integration challenges. The company specializes in solving real-time integration requirements for high-velocity business processes related to e-commerce, Configure, Price Quote (CPQ), IT Asset Management, and variant configuration among others. enosix virtualizes real-time SAP data and processes directly into the applications that sales, CRM, and IT teams (and customers or distributors) work in every day. And it is not just read-only. It supports the creation of data and business transactions like quotes, orders, contracts, and much more. This results in 100% accurate pricing, asset maps and BOMs, real-time tracking updates, greater productivity, improved customer service, increased margins, and higher revenues.
Simplifying SAP integration – A different path
enosix’s approach is to encapsulate multiple SAP integration nuances into a platform that is decoupled from the actual back-end SAP ERP, no matter the release level. Thus, during an ECC to S/4 HANA upgrade, customers do not have to change or deal with custom integration scenarios because the front-end system doesn’t care whether ECC or S/4HANA is connected. Customers can integrate with ECC today, to later translate the integration logic, so business doesn’t have to stop for the migration.
enosix utilizes object-oriented integrations that are humanized/translated, so that non-SAP developers & Citizen Integrators can easily understand and use them with minimal training. In addition, it is purpose built for the consuming engagement system, like CRM, Commerce, Service, etc. and therefore number of calls, returned data, update & creating of documents are streamlined so the Engagement Layer & Back-Office Layer can be seamlessly unified. enosix integrations translate the SAP terminology and naming conventions into terms that non-SAP developers and technical professionals can understand. As Schlechter describes, “We have created data and integration objects that are both understandable and usable if you are a Salesforce developer or any other type of non-SAP technical professional. We basically created a hub on top of SAP that enables you to do everything you need to integrate SAP with other applications, but in a very simplified format. The integration approach is completely interchangeable whether you are on SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA, so the front end doesn’t even know or is impacted by the backend. We provide a pre-built library for different integration scenarios, and everything is pre-packaged through our framework. That way, customers can focus on the high-level business processes and the results that they want to achieve.”
enosix’s integration solutions also shield IT teams from the complexities of SAP systems integrations. “You don’t need to know the 5 BAPIs you need to call in SAP for a specific process, or what transaction codes you are using, or the nuances of dealing with specific interfaces, fields, or data. We virtualize this data and processes to bring the results back to the front end, with limited to no customization or excess configuration required,” states Hail.
Companies can deploy quickly and see results almost immediately according to enosix. They have completed 150+ implementations around the globe. According to Schlechter and Hail, organizations can get up and running in days, weeks, or a few months depending on the complexity of the project, number of interfaces, etc.
The benefits customers see are multifold. For example, Stanley, Black and Decker’s complex pricing process generated a 25% error rate for its critical distributor network because of poor integration between SAP and its partner systems. Within three months of deploying enosix’s solution, the organization was able to recognize 100% accuracy.
enosix solutions are successful in managing high-volume, complex configuration scenarios for e-commerce and variant configuration processes—and enable real-time access to data. The solutions also offer pre-built integration like pre-enabled order creation, pricing simulation, contract creation, or customer creation to reduce customization and configuration.
Navigating the partner landscape
While many integration platform vendors have SAP connectors, they only provide a basic connection to SAP, and, according to Schlechter and Hail, “Many also fail to provide true real-time connectivity, and require additional configuration, code writing, and customization. The key to scalable and seamless integration is a real-time first approach, where data objects are replicated only when absolutely necessary – everything else is provided ‘on-demand’ virtualizing SAPs rules and business processes, to ensure 100% accuracy for the customer.”
enosix’s solutions have garnered the attention of platform and integration partners like MuleSoft and ServiceNow with whom they have recently partnered. enosix enables the “last mile of SAP connectivity” for MuleSoft customers in real-time with the ability to leverage the complex business logic of SAP Variant Configuration without data replication. For ServiceNow customers, enosix facilitates real-time SAP integration for Purchase Order creation for ServiceNow IT Asset Management solutions as well as other applications like Operational Technology Management (OTM) and more.
The company understands that many existing SAP customers are using SAP Process Integration or variations of its predecessors that date back to SAP NetWeaver days (SAP XI/PI). These solutions need regular updates and are on-premise solutions. But SAP has evolved its integration solutions into the SAP Business Technology Platform, which, according to SAPinsider’s research, are used and explored by many.
“To better serve the standard requirements of our customers, we leverage SAP BTP’s cloud foundry to run our own API platform on. We create interfaces through BTP, and if you want to access our API Portal to do order search, create, or pricing simulation, you can do this through a wizard we built on the SAP BTP Platform. We also integrate with the BTP security model and leverage other features to make our product more usable,” Hail explains.
What does this mean for SAPinsiders?
Build a long-term integration strategy: Escape from the world of spaghetti code and point-to-point interfaces by adopting centralized, scalable framework and processes for integrating SAP and non-SAP applications. Explore key offerings from SAP, enosix, and other partners to keep your teams informed about possibilities and how to make integration a competitive advantage for your organization as opposed to transformation barrier.
Make integration a key part of your SAP S/4HANA initiative: This major initiative can serve as a catalyst for house cleaning. Most organizations are cleaning their data and identifying the integration challenges they need to overcome for successful SAP S/4HANA migration. However, the true value of this migration is in the visibility this system can bring to operations and business. This requires clean data and tight integration between all business systems.
Ask your integration partners the hard questions: Most companies cannot build a successful, long-term integration strategy by themselves. They need to get their key service and software partners involved early. Request case studies and customer references. Make sure your selected partners understand your application landscapes, and what processes and data are important to your teams. You need to ensure that they handle the various nuances and scenarios that SAP systems require.