Revolutionizing digital transformation with AI | HCLTech

Revolutionizing digital transformation with AI

The emergence of generative AI has enabled organizations to accelerate complex transformations and streamline program delivery processes. Discover what this could mean for packaged applications
4 minutes read
Sadagopan S
Sadagopan S
EVP, Global Head of SaaS and Commercial Applications, Digital Business Services, HCLTech
4 minutes read
Revolutionizing digital transformation with AI

AI is one of the most disruptive technologies to emerge in recent years and is one of the key topics of discussions with the executives that I meet in my role as head of the HCLTech Packaged Applications Practice. While many conversations are around business use cases, one of our strategic priorities has also been to look at how AI can disrupt the way we deliver transformation projects – specifically, how this can drive project efficiencies and de-risk projects.

There are challenges with any “SAP transformation” or “digital transformation,” such as ensuring business and IT teams are aligned in executing a strategy that meets the business’ overall goals, while other existing hurdles of transformation include delivering tangible ROI in a cost-effective and timely manner. But the appetite to drive transformation through tech has never been greater.

Gartner’s 2024 CEO Survey has revealed that behind growth, the CEO’s second greatest business priority in 2024 is technology-related change and AI has replaced digital as the top theme when it comes to the next driver of business transformation. According to the report, 59% of CEOs believe AI is the technology that will most impact their industry, while 87% of CEOs agree that the benefits of AI to their business outweigh its risks.

At HCLTech, my leadership teams across various practices are working to mitigate existing challenges when it comes to transformation, while embracing AI initiatives and POCs to help organizations drive innovation and business growth at scale. I want to use SAP migration to RISE with SAP as an example to share my vision for how AI is going to transform SAP program delivery.

Migrating from ECC to RISE with SAP and S/4HANA: A C-Suite concern

In 2018, SAP announced that all enterprises using SAP ECC and associated applications needed to migrate to SAP S/4HANA by 2025, which was then extended to 2027. Whilst we have seen a steady stream of projects with the deadline approaching, a significant percentage of customers have yet to transition to SAP S/4HANA. The introduction of RISE with SAP as the primary commercial construct for consuming SAP S/4HANA means that our customers also must migrate to a cloud solution with many different cloud offerings to choose from and integration to SaaS based surround applications such as SuccessFactors, Ariba and Business Technology Platform.

This has created a sense of urgency, compelling companies to expedite their migrations to meet impending deadlines. The scarcity of skilled migration specialists and other resources further complicates the situation, making efficient execution difficult.

The process of migrating workloads to SAP S/4HANA (similar to other platforms like Oracle Fusion or Workday), is a multifaceted task that involves analysis and migration of complex processes, data, customization and configuration, as well as ensuring seamless integration and optimization within the cloud infrastructure. These challenges often pose significant risks to organizations, ranging from data integrity and security issues to operational disruptions during the migration process.

The role of GenAI

Migration projects need to be quick, low risk and enable our customers to embrace new features and capabilities offered by the new RISE with SAP landscape. The core migration needs to be executed swiftly and accurately with minimal risk to the business. Embracing GenAI in the core activities can play a transformative role in easing the complex migration to SAP S/4HANA. 

By leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms and large language models (LLMs), GenAI has the potential to derisk the migration process, accelerate digital transformation goals and revolutionize program delivery:

1. Derisking data migration: Traditionally, identifying, classifying and mapping data during a migration was a manual task that was prone to human error and inconsistencies. However, with GenAI, organizations can automatically analyze data and generate data maps to ensure a seamless and rapid migration.

2. Configuration analysis and automation: Many of our customers have multiple ERP instances and whilst there are numerous ways to convert an ECC to SAP S/4HANA, consolidation is a challenging process requiring harmonization and consolidation of configuration and data. AI can assist with analysis of an ECC configuration settings, harmonization and through automation we can apply these settings in a consolidated SAP S/4HANA instance. The HCLTech innovation team has been challenged to develop an AI powered process to address this challenge that can configure a target SAP S/4HANA solution within 24 hours.

3. Code remediation and optimization: Legacy code is often incompatible with new cloud environments. This requires manual effort from developers to remediate and optimize code. GenAI generates suggestions for code refactoring, ensuring it aligns with the cloud infrastructure, reducing the risk of compatibility issues during migration.

4. Code development: There are already many low code/no code tools, including SAP’s own offerings as part of BTP. However, we see a role for GenAI to enable consultants to develop innovations and extensions more quickly than ever. Our innovation team is working on a Secure ABAP Coder tool to accelerate the development of new ABAP innovations.

5. Automated testing and validation: Any successful migration relies on testing and validation. With LLMs and machine learning capabilities, GenAI can automate manual test cases and scenarios to ensure the quality and integrity of migrated workloads.

6. Streamlined program delivery: GenAI augments human skills, enabling organizations to reduce their reliance on the skilled resources needed to successfully migrate workloads and complete other digital transformation tasks. 

Overall, the use of GenAI can accelerate and automate many tasks that previously required significant manual effort which will then decrease the reliance on skilled migration specialists in the trickiest part of technical delivery and minimize the operational risk and the time to value in embracing SAP S/4HANA.

Does this mean we don’t need SAP consultants? Whilst we see opportunities to accelerate much of the heavy lifting, as with many on views on AI, the technology is a tool that still requires human guidance and validation, but it will enable a smaller team to focus more on the adoption of new features, functions and capabilities that will deliver business value to our customers.

What does the future of HCLTech’s Migration Factory look like with AI?

HCLTech is investing in AI-driven tools, such as Migration Factory, to help companies streamline their migration processes. We have set out a vision for how the migration studio will be transformed through the application of AI. 

Migrate+ 1.0

The initial phase of the Migration Factory focuses on rapid configuration. AI tools can analyze and fix custom code with solutions like HCLTech's HANASmart combined with GenAI automating the migration of custom code to SAP S/4HANA within days instead of months.

Migrate+2.0 and beyond

The next phase introduces AI infused data migration, automating test script generation and creating training materials, ensuring a comprehensive and efficient migration process.

Looking ahead, we envision automating the migration of custom code to new SAP BTP capabilities using AI and RPA. This strategic vision emphasizes continuous improvement and integration, ensuring long-term success for SAP migrations.

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Unlock new possibilities with GenAI

By leveraging GenAI, organizations can mitigate risks associated with an SAP S/4HANA Brown or Bluefield migration, streamline program delivery processes and accelerate the delivery of business value by focusing on the enablement of new business capabilities delivered by the RISE with SAP solutions.

We are collaborating across HCLTech with our AI teams, product teams and delivery partners to further envision and explore how we can further transform the way we deliver projects for our customers.

Looking ahead, as organizations continue to embrace the power of GenAI, they will unlock new possibilities for faster and more efficient program delivery, ultimately driving business growth and staying ahead in the digital era.

Sadagopan Singam was speaking to HCLTech’s Global Head of Brand Journalism, Nicholas Ismail.

Visit HCLTech’s booth at SAP SAPPHIRE 2024 to participate in workshops for SAP S/4HANA migration, with detailed discussions outlining the next steps for initiating pilot projects or assessments. 

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