Posted: 16 Dec. 2021 8 min. read

De-risk digital transformation in three horizons with SAP on Google Cloud

A blog post by Karthik Amirtharajan, senior manager, SAP on Google Cloud GTM Lead, Deloitte Consulting LLP


Digital transformation is moving at a rapid pace, fueled by a global pandemic and unexpected social, economic, and even geographical disruption. Meanwhile, rising customer expectations demand a more agile, proactive data-driven approach to transform standard business operations.

The journey to cloud is a key part of an organization’s digital transformation strategy, to realize innovation, business value, and competitive advantage. However, a digital transformation journey and road map is often spread across multiple years. Hence, there is a business rationale to help simplify and de-risk digital transformation, and still be able to achieve positive economics, business, and technology benefits, and drive higher profit margins.

Today’s CEOs, CFOs, and CDOs across a breadth of industries like retail, consumer goods, manufacturing, technology, telecom, and media need to approach an organization’s digital transformation across three cloud horizons – Assess, Optimize, and Innovate. This three-step multi-year journey can help organizations de-risk transformation solutions, accelerate transformation, and realize their true potential as a highly scalable “built-to-evolve” Kinetic Enterprise™.

De-risking Digital Transformation in Three Cloud Horizons


Horizon 1: Assess – Evaluate existing landscape to project future-state positive cloud economics

The outcome of this horizon is targeted at unlocking cash flows and justifying rationale for a journey to Google Cloud. This will help fund large digital transformation efforts such as SAP S/4HANA® on Google Cloud. This includes:

  • Assessing the current-state SAP® and non-SAP application and infrastructure landscape.
  • Assessing the current-state security posture of SAP and non-SAP workloads currently within the landscape.
  • Analyzing baseline infrastructure spend for SAP and non-SAP workloads.
  • Forecasting future-state cloud consumption economics and benefits.
  • Presenting a business case to the CFO to project NPV, ROI, and IRR.
  • Finally, executing on the migration journey or a greenfield implementation of SAP S/4HANA on Google Cloud. 

Horizon 2: Optimize – Reimagine and reinvent business processes

The outcome of this horizon is to optimize the cloud infrastructure footprint, make cloud operations more efficient, and adopt cloud native best practices such as DevOps. As organizations get comfortable with the overall cloud estate—spread and breadth of applications that sit on cloud—they can bring additional workloads to Google Cloud to utilize economies of scale and further reduce total cost of ownership (TCO). Finally, as they reach steady-state operations, they may see the benefits from positive cloud economics, along with further reduction of TCO. Beyond the financial and operational benefits as a result of cloud optimization efforts, the business can start unlocking immediate value through some of the technology capabilities residing within Google Cloud. For example, the business can start generating insights from both transactional SAP data and analytical data to make key decisions and position them for better competitive advantage. As a result, the business is well equipped to begin innovation on the platform.

Horizon 3: Innovate – Unleash business innovation on the cloud

Horizon 3 is an ongoing exercise that operates within an end-to-end feedback loop. The outcome of the third and final horizon is to help unleash business innovation on the cloud by enabling integration of rich Google Cloud technology, such as BigQuery Omni™ multi-cloud analytics solution, Vertex AI, Looker™ business intelligence platform, and Apigee™ API platform tools. This creates a competitive advantage and differentiation within a rapidly changing business marketplace. Both the savings from positive cloud economics and reduced TCO from cloud operations may allow existing businesses to invest capital to fuel innovation.

In addition, enterprises can build agile and intelligent supply chains enabled by a supply chain digital twin, track real-time demand shaping solutions leveraging edge computing and IoT, and combine SAP and non-SAP data using the data foundation for SAP called the Google Cloud Cortex Framework. Migrating SAP, non-SAP, and other data sources onto a centralized data repository on Google Cloud enables real-time insight generation across all data workloads. This lays the groundwork for new insight generation, enabling a deeper understanding of metrics, KPIs, and market signals. Ultimately, this accelerates business outcomes (real-time monitoring architecture, data store, and user interface) while reducing risk complexity and cost at the end of the journey.

Even marketing teams benefit, too, as they can augment sales data, buyer behavior data, and campaign and marketing data to identify incremental sales opportunities and optimize store assortments. And with a single, intelligent view of the supply chain, companies can reduce the carbon footprint of delivery fleets by optimizing delivery routes, creating competitive advantage through a faster, greener delivery service.

Reimagine the future

By adopting a methodical process, organizations can undertake digital transformation agendas intelligently to respond and adapt to business challenges without disrupting mission-critical operations or the end-customer experience. Underpinned by the scalability of SAP on Google Cloud, they can now adapt their business model and introduce new integrations across their application portfolio with ease. These three horizons enable a new wave of innovation that can address critical market challenges and prepare for an uncertain future.

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David Linthicum

David Linthicum

Managing Director | Chief Cloud Strategy Officer

As the chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte Consulting LLP, David is responsible for building innovative technologies that help clients operate more efficiently while delivering strategies that enable them to disrupt their markets. David is widely respected as a visionary in cloud computing—he was recently named the number one cloud influencer in a report by Apollo Research. For more than 20 years, he has inspired corporations and start-ups to innovate and use resources more productively. As the author of more than 13 books and 5,000 articles, David’s thought leadership has appeared in InfoWorld, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Gigaom, and Prior to joining Deloitte, David served as senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, where he grew the practice into a major force in the cloud computing market. Previously, he led Blue Mountain Labs, helping organizations find value in cloud and other emerging technologies. He is a graduate of George Mason University.