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SAPPHIRE NOW 2019 | RED’s highlights

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SAPPHIRE NOW was attended heavily by RED and the excitement across the floor was palpable. With 30,000 people in attendance this year, there was a lot to see and many people to talk to.

Here are RED’s key highlights from this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference.

Customer first

For the first time in 30 years, SAPPHIRE NOW 2019 was opened by an SAP customer - Eric Hutcherson, Chief HR Officer at the NBA. The first of many customer insights throughout the opening keynote. In a change to the traditional interviews, SAP board members took to the stage accompanied by customers.

A tactical move by SAP perhaps to reinforce the primary theme of the 3-day conference – customer first – or to offer reassurance to customers that SAP is in control and moving forward, despite the recent high-profile leadership departures.

Either way, it’s clear that SAP is a company that wants to present itself as customer-led with an emphasis on the experience economy.  

Accompanied by SAP board members, we heard live case studies from Shell, retailer Tapestry and sports brand, Under Armour, highlighting that SAP, now, has major global brand customers who are making the transformation to S4 with demonstrable results.

SAP’s Chief Operations Officer, Christian Klein talked to transforming SAP into an Intelligent Enterprise using their own technology. Hammering home the customer-first message, Klein continued to say that SAP need to design and develop the Intelligent Enterprise from a customer and employee perspective – outside in. A nod to McDermott’s earlier statement that SAP believe design thinking and innovation begins on the outside.

Klein focused on integration of SAP’s solution landscape to give customers the competitive advantage in the market to support the changing customer experience. Simply put, achieving a single view of the customer by running business models end to end, spanning across an organisation.

Using the hire to retire principal, Klein outlined SAP's commitment to delivering a seamless business process integration and aligned data model for the hire to retire process by the end of 2019. In parallel, SAP is doing the same for C/4 and S/4HANA to connect the front office to the back office with one aligned domain model.

Our US MD, Dave Muller said of the event; “As the leader of our North American efforts, I cannot be more excited about working with our customers as they embrace the emphasis SAP will be putting on customer and user experience”.

Experience management

Bill McDermott, SAP CEO, reiterated how experience is now the organising principal of the global economy and that combining O data and X data gives you the ability to deliver true personalisation at mass scale and bridge the experience gap.

Cue the introduction of Ryan Smith, co-founder and CEO of Qualtrics, SAP’s recent acquisition, who led (and pioneer) experience management.

Explaining the experience economy, Smith highlighted that organisations are disproportionately rewarded when they deliver a great experience and absolutely punished when they do not because experience has become the growth engine for business.

The experience gap is the gap between what people want and what is being delivered. Using some powerful case studies such as Starbucks, Uber and WeWork, Smith continued to drive the message of experience management as the only sustainable competitive advantage, leaving everyone with the thought that if organisations aren’t trading on the experience premium it’s a race to the bottom.

Apple and SAP

Other highlights included Tim Cook, Apple CEO, on stage with McDermott. Primary points discussed were:

  • how the combination of SAP and Apple technology has helped business run more efficiently by reducing paper processes and running preventative maintenance
  • Machine learning and augmented reality key to productivity, efficiency and experience, and
  • the importance of data privacy.

Later at SAPPHIRE,  Cook and McDermott announced that CORE ML, Apple’s on-device machine learning technology will be available for the first time as part of the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS. Machine learning models will automatically download to iPhone and iPad so apps can run offline, and then dynamically update while connected to SAP Cloud Platform.

“Apple is on the rise in the Enterprise, said McDermott. Cook said, “Enterprise customers are seeing real business benefits when they use iOS. We are excited for SAP to extend these experiences further on iPhone and iPad”.

SAP HANA Cloud Services

“We want to see all industries in the public cloud. The public cloud is the way to go.” stated Prof. Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, on his keynote titled Experience the Intelligent Enterprise.

Humorously dubbing his own presentation the low-cost keynote, Plattner concentrated on the public cloud and the explosion of the global data sphere, including a look at the past and future.  

Gerrit Kazmaier, Senior Vice President SAP HANA and Analytics joined Plattner lauding a raft of HANA developments such as persistent memory, native storage, data partitioning and tiering, and the launch of SAP’s Data Warehouse Cloud.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is the first product built on HANA Cloud Services and the “newest and coolest service and data management” in Kazmaier’s words. It is a combination of HANA’s flexibility and SQL processing with BW’s governed approach and is designed for one key principal – simplicity. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud offers complete elasticity, scalability, cost control and performance of HANA, for everyone.

One of the capabilities of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is a powerful, integrated analytics-as-a-Service with SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP Analytics Cloud uses Machine Learning and predictive technology to provide the information you need immediately, on the right device and in the most concise format, answering not only the questions we have now but also the questions we don’t yet know about.

“HANA is for everyone. Low TCO, completely dynamically priced by what you use and delivered as a Service, anyone can get started with their HANA journey”, said Kazmaier.

Indirect Access

Originally introduced in April 2018 by SAP, Indirect Digital Access Pricing Model sparked user concern. Despite its intention to provide customers with certainty regarding their license commitment, it brought about uncertainty.

A contentious issue since launch, ASUG announced the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) designed to help customers provide customers a way to measure the financial impact of adopting the digital access licensing model and seems to be providing a level of financial predictability. It’s a win for customers on the face of it, taking away the uncertainty when considering their licensing position.

Wrap up

The message of customers first was consistent and prevalent throughout the 3-day conference In fact, McDermott stated early on in his keynote that “No company is perfect, not SAP either, but we are focused on becoming the best run version of ourselves in the relentless pursuit of making you our customers the best run businesses in the world”.

Other key messages were experience is everything, the global data sphere is the mother of all hockey-sticks with no sign of slowing down and X + O = new frontier.

As a people business, we understand the value and impact of good customer engagement and we are proud that our NPS score is 16% above industry average and rising.

For recruitment businesses one key question to ask ourselves is: what must we do to stay relevant and contribute to the evolution and sustainability of the talent/skills force?

Anticipating the spike in S/4 talent demand, RED has been developing relationships with this new wave of functional and technical S/4 talent, adding to our already established network of over 200,000 SAP professionals.

If you would like to leverage RED’s extensive network or are looking for your next SAP move, why not speak to one of our consultants today.

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