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A new role for finance in the digital world

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Kathy Gibson reports from SAPInsider in Vienna – In the new world of digitalisation, the systems traditionally associated with finance are not the only ones relevant to the finance role.
Digital finance is about creating realtime continuous processes with no manual process or media breaks.
In addition, there will be full transparency of all information accessible to everyone in the moment.
“The idea is that decision-makers can consume data directly from such a system,” says Martin Naraschewski, systems engineer at SAP.
All teams within the finance organisation will be impacted by the transformation and will have to rethink how they perform their functions, while the entire finance value chain will become digitised to enable end-to-end processes in realtime to manage finance.
Enterprises across industries can lead the finance transformation by completely reimagining business models, business processes, and work.
S/4HANA Finance is the foundation of SAP’s digital finance strategy.
In-memory computing is a revolutionary concept brought to life by the breakthrough SAP HANA platform. The SAP HANA platform is at the heart of the most modern finance system available, SAP S/4HANA. SAP S/4HANA simplifies the core of finance through:
* A single source of the truth: All transactional and planning data stored one time only, in one place only – the universal journal. No more reconciliation, no more replication, no more aggregation. Instead, the SAP HANA platform provides a single source of the truth, which allows for a whole new level of visibility and operational efficiency across finance and the enterprise.
* Transactions and analytics in one realtime system: The power of in-memory allows finance to perform at the speed of digital – that is, realtime. No more batch jobs, no more rigid system hierarchies, no more waiting for IT to deliver your reports. Instead, a single system provides immediate visibility to all transactions and allows users to perform dynamic and personalised analysis straight from the transactional data. SAP S/4HANA brings business process and business intelligence together into a single, smooth, digital motion.
It offers instant insight, with a single version of the truth; an intuitive user experience that gives business users instant insight; and connectivity and automation.
In addition, the system is the foundation for a live business, having close integration with operations, business planning and business intelligence.
SAP provides a fully integrated platform, based on the latest technology trends, to allow finance to lead the transformation to digital business.
Naraschewski explains that S/4HANA for Finance, although initially designed as an on-premise application, runs in the cloud as well. “Because it is the same application, companies could start in one and move to the other,” he adds.
However, the hybrid cloud is increasingly popular as the deployment model of choice for S/4HANA Finance, Naraschewski adds. “With hybrid cloud, the core of the accounting solution remains on-premise, but some of the processing happens in the cloud. So while the application logic is in the cloud, the numbers are in the data centre, behind the firewall.”
Importantly, running S/4HANA Finance in a hybrid cloud environment is efficient because there is no replication of data.
“There is a lot of strength in this model, especially for customers who want to keep their financial information to themselves.”
There are also a number of options for users migrating to S/4HANA Finance, Naraschewski says.
These range from a new implementation – a route that many customers are opting for – to a system migration, or a combination approach where the old system remains in place while the new one is slowly implemented.
Users can also opt to migrate only their finance systems, or include logistics or other line of business applications. There is also an option to implement SAP HANA first, running legacy ERP systems, or to migrate only selected applications to HANA.
Regardless of the method they are opting for, Naraschewski says customers are moving to S/4HANA Finance quickly. More than 3 000 customers have already signed up for a migration, of which 800 are underway now, and 200 are already live.