Business operates differently now. They evolve faster and scale without heavy technology investment, they connect directly with other systems, they leverage data and automation, and soon they will use artificial intelligence for everything from insight to operational efficiency.
Most businesses that have grown beyond a handful of employees now use an enterprise resource planning solution (ERP) for running backend operations, with SAP the market leader of this crucial backend software. That has given SAP both a good understanding of business today, and insight into the future direction of business operations as technology evolves.
In 2020, SAP began rolling out a new software paradigm for its ERP solutions that better addressed the needs of business today and in the coming decade. The SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is the central component of this new paradigm.
The Big Idea: One Unified Platform for Everything
The SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is a unified platform for all code that runs a modern business. Instead of multiple products and codebases that need integration and periodic upgrades as an organization grows or evolves, BTP is a universal software platform that atomizes business software functions and allows these functions to integrate and keep running as a business grows or evolves.
When a business adopts or develops a specific software function for operations, it can keep using this function as long as it is necessary as a result of BTP. There’s no migration as a business grows or changes. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel each time a business evolves. There’s no missing out on SAP innovations because a feature has been released for SAP’s Fortune 500 S/4HANA ERP but not for the small-business offering.
With BTP, functionality is built once and available for use everywhere. For small businesses and large enterprises alike.
SAP enables this by using the open-source model of a small software kernel and universal modules that any kernel can then tap into for specific functionality. These modules both come from SAP and its extensive network of partners such as Navigator Business Solutions, and they also easily can be developed by employees themselves using either SAP’s drag-and-drop editor or its low-code development environment for the platform.
This is a big change, and a paradigm that is different than how most business software makers and even SAP developed software until recently. Instead of making distinct software solutions for different segments of the market, SAP has now streamlined its offerings so the core code of each ERP solution is different, but most of the software functionality lives in the BTP and can be leveraged by any of its ERP solutions.
Advantages of the SAP Business Technology Platform
BTP and the change in structure bring many benefits that better serve the needs of business today.
Third-party research firm, IDC, calculated that BTP and the opportunities from the new paradigm will boost a company’s productivity by an average of 19 percent, save businesses an average of $195,000 per 100 users of the system, and reduce business process errors by 63 percent, among other benefits.
Better Agility and Faster Adaptation
Businesses can grab the functionality they need from BTP and evolve their backend more quickly to changing conditions because the new model is completely modular and software functionality is universal instead of specific to their ERP instance.
Companies can take advantage of the more than 750 different modules that are used across the BTP platform, or easily roll their own functionality with the platform’s low-code development environment. They also can easily integrate third-party software or data flows that live outside of the platform for additional functionality.
Easier Custom Processes and Self-Development
BTP helps business add process customization, and it enables employees to easily roll their own functionality by marrying the modularity and universality of the platform with a drag-and-drop software development environment.
Through BTP, businesses link data and processes from elsewhere in the system, and integrate with third-party software solutions without having to resort to the old model of custom code that breaks easily and must be maintained. With the development environment baked into the BTP platform, businesses get the advantages of customization without the complexity or maintenance headaches. They also can build with core technologies already in the platform such as AI and automation.
Comprehensive AI and Automation System-Wide
Leveraging the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and automation is a central feature of the BTP design. The modularity and service-oriented nature of the BTP platform make it possible for each business function to tap into AI and automation.
With BTP, businesses can flow any data source into SAP’s AI engine, or connect this data with an external AI engine. Every business process also can interface with AI as needed, and the AI component of the process can be expanded as the technology evolves.
Similarly, this modularity and service model architecture increases automation because a function of the software doesn’t have to come with automation baked in; businesses can add automation to any part of their backend system as needed.
Improved Integration and Connectivity
Cloud-based SAP solutions always have come with wide integration and connectivity with other systems because ERP serves as the nerve-center for a business. But BTP takes integration and connectivity to an even higher level because the platform is built around APIs and integration points that connect platform modules and external software solutions.
BTP is designed from the ground-up for mixing systems and business functions. Modules on the platform easily talk with each other, and organizations can quickly create connections and flow data based on the changing needs of their business.
Turnkey Systems Growth
The BTP platform makes business expansion and backend systems growth easier. It does this in two ways.
First, the new model of a tiny core supported by universal BTP functionality modules makes ERP upgrades almost trivial. When a business grows from the small business SAP Business One ERP to the larger SAP Business ByDesign ERP, or moves from ByDesign to SAP’s large enterprise S/4 HANA ERP, the company’s ERP core is upgraded but the universal modules that a business relies upon for operations stay the same. The migration path becomes much simpler.
Second, BTP and its universal module design make it possible for a business to add functionality on an as-needed basis. The module approach where businesses turn on only the functionality they need has long been a foundation of SAP solutions, but BTP expands on this by moving all possible functions to a shared, universal platform for an even larger universe of possible modules. With this expanded range of options, businesses can progressively add new functionality as they grow without the friction of required software upgrades.
Use the Business Technology Platform Today
The SAP Business Technology Platform is the cornerstone of a significant new approach to business software that takes into account the current trends and where business will be moving in the coming decades. BTP is the biggest change in backend software since the cloud.
Learn how 'SAP Business ByDesign is Future-Proofing with BTP'
All businesses that use an SAP ERP solution have access to BTP right now. If you would like more information on how this will impact your business or want help taking full advantage of the new opportunities that BTP represents, contact one of our experienced SAP consultants at (801) 642-0123 or by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.