In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

  • Innovations with SAP S/4 HANA in the retail sector
  • Tej’s experience leading Luxury Brand Holdings on the enterprise supporting retail, digital, marketing, e-commerce, creative, merchandising, warehouse & corporate functions
  • Complex multichannel retailing and building a flexible and scalable architecture
  • Potholes to look out for when migrating from R/3 / ECC to S/4 HANA
  • What advice Tej would you give to CIOs who are looking at Greenfield vs. Brownfield implementations and whether they should use a single tenant or multi tenant cloud option
  • Tej’s advice to VPs and CIOs who are looking to layer on a robust reporting strategy
  • Future proofing IT orgs and speeding up innovations in today’s fast pace environment
  • Tej’s advice after 14+ SAP S/4 HANA greenfield implementations
  • The #1 problem Tej was seeking to solve while the CIO of Luxury Brand Holdings

Are you the type of person who washes a dish after using it or do you let them pile up?

If you’re the latter, you know the longer you put it off, the more difficult the task — and defining the word “plate” — becomes (this happens on a weekly basis with me and my wife at home). : )

And in the retail world, a lot of companies find themselves in this position when it comes to moving from legacy to modern systems — and, in particular ERPs.

With so many things piled up, where do you even begin?

To answer that, I spoke with Tej Rampure, Head of SAP at Nagarro and former CIO of Luxury Brand Holdings, where he had tremendous success overhauling the company’s outdated systems. 

He shared how he was able to achieve so much (and in such a short amount of time) and why ERPs like SAP’s S/4 HANA are transforming the retail space.

How to overhaul legacy systems in record time

When Tej had an opportunity to work with Luxury Brand Holdings and update their systems, he jumped on it.

The opportunity to transform the company’s dated legacy systems and change the face of the company from a technology standpoint — and help drive the business — was something he couldn’t pass up. 

It’s not every day you get that opportunity. 

But even though he dove into the CIO role, he first had to take a step back and look at the issues he was there to solve. 

The company’s systems were dated; their e-commerce was a homegrown application that brought in more than 65% of revenue without proper governance, backup or scale-up and scale-out options. 

And then there were issues with knowledge of the customer, warehouse inventory and merchandising systems. To top it off, there was no real roadmap or strategy to drive the business forward. 

The first priority was to migrate from the e-commerce platform to an ERP, which he managed to do in 10 months. The company was also able to optimize and bring efficiency to the warehouse and inventory items and reduce costs to ship the 10,000 packages a day they were sending out.

Finally, they implemented a brand new CRM to make sure they knew the customer better. 

There was a lot of innovation in a short period of time — and that required putting in place the proper infrastructure and applications to support and grow the business. 

How S/4 HANA simplifies everything

Moving from older ways of doing things to innovative approaches sounds great, but how do you future proof the new systems and make sure you don’t find yourself in the same position a few years down the road?

For Tej, the key is to have a flexible and scalable architecture to adapt to change — but it’s just as important that it be reliable and simple. 

When working in a global environment, companies have to deal with multiple locations, cultures, business processes and even business models. So, it’s important that whatever you build be intuitive and easy to use.

It’s no longer the case that you can just take a single platform or application, scale it and roll it out everywhere. 

But these are issues ERP systems have grappled with as they’ve evolved. 

And SAP’s S/4 HANA seems to be following Tej’s advice. After spending years working on the flexibility and scalability of the architecture, SAP’s latest offering has marked a shift in focus toward simplification over customization. 

With the many challenges in the retail sector, this means companies can focus on doing innovation and, ultimately, selling more, rather than spending all of their time managing and maintaining their ERP application. 

How should you approach business intelligence and adoption of a  robust reporting strategy as a CIO?

After looking holistically at the problems you want to address and how best to tackle them, the many tools, technologies and strategies available can also present an overwhelming feeling. 

To go back to our piled-up-dishes analogy —  You know which dishes need washing and how to wash them, but now you’re having trouble deciding between the colorful array of dish soaps on offer that all promise sparkling dishes.

For Tej, there are a few things you need to know before implementing your new BI or you go replacing all your legacy systems.

First, you need buy-in from the business — without it, everything else becomes harder. And this means you also need to set realistic expectations. 

Then, you need to make sure any BI strategy you adopt makes the best use of all the information available. BI needs to penetrate deep into the business process and help the business enterprise in myriad ways. 

For example, your BI should:

  1. Be strategic
  2. Be tactical
  3. Allow for better operational decision-making

Of course, it’s really important that you take the time to understand and develop your roadmap and get a proper, holistic view of the business and where it wants to go. 

And finally, don’t try to do everything at once.

It’s important to take steps one at a time so you can adjust as needed and remain nimble throughout the process.  

After all, if you try and wash every dish at once, the likelihood you’ll break a few goes up exponentially. 

This post is based on a TechTables podcast with Tej Rampure. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to TechTables here. 

PS: You can also email me at joe@techtablespodcast.com for anything related to the podcast and joe.toste@nagarro.com if you are interested in learning more about Nagarro and our philosophy on #thinkingbreakthroughs. 

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