By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

As discussed in “Déjà Vu: Digital Boardrooms in the Spotlight,” the concept of the digital boardroom is a key component of digital transformation. It was my great pleasure to attend a session at SAPPHIRE NOW that featured Joffey Mathews, a director from the North America Digital Business Services Center of Expertise (CoE) and analytics expert who applied his experience to the digital boardroom initiative at SAP.

To kick off the discussion, Mathews outlined three challenges that executives face when making decisions:

  • A lack of real-time analytics during an executive and board meeting. Having this critical information is increasingly important as Big Data becomes the norm.
  • No agreement around key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and underlying data sources. The need for a single version of the truth has only grown with the explosion of Big Data and the rise of modern analytics.
  • Demand for information that is accurate, complete, and timely. Another requirement that’s remains unchanged over the years.

While these concerns are not surprising, they represent how a digital boardroom solution adds value to the decision-making process. According to Mathews, the SAP Digital Boardroom Solution aligns executive decisions with the source of truth across multiple areas. To achieve transparency, data-driven insights, and a simplified (yet dynamic) view of the company, the C-suite and the rest of the business need predictive analytics. Although designed for a boardroom environment, the solution is also portable from the top floor to the shop floor – another proof point of how the combination of the cloud and enterprise mobility are turning analytics and Big Data into killer apps.

Likewise, sourcing data from anywhere in the business – which is clearly an advantage – needs to be supported, collected, and harmonized from on-premise and cloud-based applications. Quick response time is especially key for an executive audience, which is why SAP layered analytics on top of a cloud-based or on-premise version of the SAP HANA database or platform. In fact, I’ve learned this first-hand when I recently migrated some applications to SAP HANA, which was done in a matter of seconds instead of minutes. And because insights can be drawn from underlying data sources in real time, there’s no longer a need for pre-canned reports.

With a greater focus on getting the right data to support the right KPIs, Design Thinking plays a significant role in identifying scenarios and driving and guiding data selection and harmonization. This approach supports expansion and further customization. Plus, this application of simplified boardroom processes is based on a proven methodology of leveraging best practices, standardized processes, and predefined content as starting points.  The result is a quicker time to value and lower total cost of implementation – leading to an overall reduction in total cost of ownership.

By presenting three screens of information, SAP Digital Boardroom addresses business needs such as:

  • Real-time insights and guidance to support modern boardroom processes with a single version of the truth and to enable agility and flexibility
  • Real-time analytics based on the right KPIs driven by business scenarios, which are available on demand during boardroom and executive meetings to support enterprise-wide decisions
  • Fact-based decisions without wasting any time on discussing which version of the truth is represented because there’s only one

Looking back, I now see how my work with visionaries of enterprise information systems (EIS) and enterprise support systems is connected to where we are heading – the digital boardroom and the journey to digital transformation. Seeing all of this come to fruition in a way none of us could have imagined is truly exciting.

Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.


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