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From System of Record to System of Understanding

Having the right information available in the right process in real time is a sustainable parameter for success. Stefan Zeitzen, Managing Director of SER Group, explains in an interview the importance of Enterprise Content Management for SAP users.
E-3 Magazine
1 February 2021
[shutterstock: 746441509, Dmitriy Rybin]
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

ECM there are many, but what are the most important criteria for an existing SAP customer in combination with SAP Suite 7 or S/4 and your ECM product Doxis4?

Stefan Zeitzen; SER: As you say, the emphasis is on the word "combination" of ECM and SAP. The document management functionality in SAP is only rudimentary - an ECM is a necessary addition here, but one that also brings many additional benefits, from compliance to usability.

ECM is the only way for traditional SAP users to gain a comprehensive view of business processes. This includes not only the transaction data from SAP, but also the documents associated with a job, delivery or order. These documents are typically not in SAP, but in e-mail inboxes, file directories, in CRM or even in paper form.

Creating a central entry point that provides access to all required information as a single source of truth and also helps to automate processes and make them audit-proof is definitely an important criterion why SAP customers choose an ECM. A look at our customer statistics also shows that the combination of SAP ERP and Doxis4 makes sense: over 70 percent of SER customers have integrated Doxis4 and SAP.

Does the implementation differ with regard to Suite 7 with AnyDB and S/4 based on the Hana platform?

Zeitzen: In principle, yes, but our ECM solution, for example, has its own infrastructure and is technologically independent of the SAP platform. So it doesn't matter which database lies behind it. If we compare Business Suite 7 with S/4 and the SAP Cloud Platform, however, there are differences in the implementation. With S/4 comes a modern user interface with new technologies.

This requires a new type of integration, which in our case is handled by Doxis4 SmartBridge for SAP and provides, for example, an overarching asset list for Fiori apps that no longer exists in Fiori. An additional advantage is that solutions such as invoice processing work in both worlds and can in principle migrate smoothly - companies that archive documents and data from SAP and thus streamline their existing SAP systems can also benefit from this when switching from R/3 to S/4.

SER and SAP: What do you see as SER's unique selling points?

Zeitzen: A unique selling point is our SAP expertise! SER has been a certified SAP partner for more than 30 years and develops numerous solutions for end-to-end digital business processes based on this long-standing product experience and interface expertise, which are used in medium-sized businesses and corporate groups.

The certified Doxis4 connectors and add-ons for SAP ensure intelligently automated processes throughout the company and simplify and accelerate the work for users - both SAP and non-SAP users - by creating a 360-degree view of the respective business context.

Departments without SAP access also need to have an overall view of business processes and related information, just as SAP users need to access documents outside of SAP. The bridge between the two is built by Doxis4, which links the required information from SAP, CRM, emails, file systems, etc. and creates an all-round view of the process.

Does every existing SAP customer need an ECM system or can it also be done with SAP-Bord resources?

Zeitzen: Documents do not fall into SAP's area of expertise. But business processes are not only made up of data. They are dominated by documents, a fact that every administrator can tell you a thing or two about. The fact that SAP has a problem here is nothing new. In times of Corona, however, the gap is even more obvious.

Finding the right SAP documents for a process is a challenge in itself, not to mention non-SAP documents. An ECM system changes this in the blink of an eye and also provides a lot of standard functionality that would first have to be implemented in SAP at great expense and then, for example, stands in the way of an SAP technology change or has to be painstakingly redeveloped. From our point of view, it is not a question of either SAP or ECM - they are not in competition with each other, they are complementary solutions.

So what is the leading system?

Zeitzen: The question of the leading system does not arise in this way; that is decided by the respective application. Sometimes SAP is the leading system, sometimes the ECM system. The important thing is that users get a 360-degree view of information and that business processes are supported throughout. A good example of this is our customer DEVK Versicherungen.

On the one hand, it uses SAP Claims Management for settlements and archives the resulting documents with Doxis4. On the other hand, wherever documents are the focus, ECM is the leading system. DEVK uses it to digitize and control all incoming documents from the moment they arrive in the mail, to distribute tasks throughout Germany, and to process new applications and contracts, for example.

The effort required for mail distribution has dropped by 75 percent, and a response to customer concerns is possible on the same day. Such a speed is unimaginable with SAP alone.

Where should you locate an ECM? In the cloud or on-premises?

Zeitzen: Both have their advantages. We focus entirely on the wishes and IT strategy of our customers. On-premises is aimed at the secure local use of data and the greatest possible individualization of the ECM. If departments have their application in the cloud, ECM in the cloud naturally makes more sense.

With SaaS, access is available anytime, anywhere. An elegant solution is a hybrid model, in which particularly sensitive information remains local and other information is available globally in the cloud. Doxis4 offers the necessary flexibility for all variants because one and the same software is used.

Are trends like AI and RPA having an impact on ECM development?

Zeitzen: ECM is evolving from a system of record to a system of understanding. Whereas in the past the focus was mainly on the storage of information, now it is much more about the content of these documents and which insights can be gained from them automatically. Intelligent information management has a decisive aspect already in its name: intelligence!

With AI methods such as content analytics and intelligent information extraction, we can unlock insights from new documents and from the document inventory and, building on this, for example, automate processes even more, noticeably improve the customer experience, uncover risks, and relieve users of routine tasks.

The necessary cognitive services are deeply integrated in Doxis4, and we can also add further services, e.g. from Microsoft, Amazon and Google, as needed to enrich solutions.

Thank you for the interview.


About the person

Stefan Zeitzen looks back on many years of expertise in the international sales environment. As CSO of SER Group, he is responsible for the further development of the entire national and international sales and presales as well as marketing of SER Group.

The Rhineland native's main focus is on company-wide software revenue development and the SaaS business. The trained information electronics technician and passionate sports diver appreciates the close contact with SER customers and employees.

In a joint exchange, he finds and sets impulses for the further expansion of SER's corporate growth. As a strategist and doer, Stefan Zeitzen is particularly interested in putting ideas into practice and leading them to success.

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