SUGEN/SBN goes SAP SELECT
As part of last week’s SUGEN Face-to-Face Meeting (F2F), the SUGEN attendees were able to take in the major part of this year’s SAP SELECT. SAP SELECT is an invitation only event for executive level SAP customers held this year at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton and Berlin Marriott Hotels. Two notable SAP attendees from Norway were Per Haakon Lomsdalen and Stefano Holguin.
The SAP SELECT event started with a managed, panel discussion with the SAP Executive Board in which they shared current, key strategic highlights. With Bill McDermott leading from the front in typical style and after cutting through the inevitable hype and sales pitches, we did actually hear some significant statements and news from the executive panel.
For example, SAP have now intentionally rebranded themselves as an innovative cloud company powered by HANA. They are firmly in the database business and are in it to win it just in case Oracle and Microsoft haven’t been paying attention. Having said that S/4 HANA is and will remain the core of the company and SAP don’t care whether you buy it or rent it so long as you have it!
SAP do not and is never likely to see itself as an IT infrastructure company, will continue to make partnerships with the leading players in this area where the SAP reference architecture is incorporated into the partner’s infrastructure. Apparently, some huge deals in this area are right around the corner so watch this space!
SAP is acutely aware of the need to create a new, younger and fresher image in line with that of a modern software development company. They are communicating that as they are growing, they are actively recruiting younger people so the average age of the company is falling by 1 year every year. Even better, the Executive Board panel proved to be the perfect opportunity to introduce to SAP’s elite customer base, the soon to be, newest Board member, Christian Klein. Christian is to take on the role of Global Chief Operating Officer (COO), is a millennial, held the position of CFO for SAP Cloud and Success Factors and is the leading SAP expert on the Digital Boardroom. In fact, he held a session, exclusively for SUGEN and seems like a genuine, likeable guy, who is prepared to work hard for the benefit of SAP users together with the SAP user groups.
The focus of the other key notes was very much on SAP’s commitment to innovation and how SAP is using disruptive technologies for the benefit of the customers and to provide a competitive advantage in the market. We heard about Leonardo leveraging the digital core and were inundated with the most topical IT industry buzzwords interspersed by a series of customer success stories. In picture below, Bernd Leukert is in dialog with Christian Stoxreiter, Head of Business applications at Red Bull on how they Turn Vision into Reality with SAP Leonardo IoT and how Red Bull started their journey to the Intelligent Enterprise.
However, one area where there still appears to be a disconnect between SAP and it’s customers is in the time it takes to implement SAP systems and the pace of change that user companies can tolerate. In a session following the Executive Panel discussion we heard from 2 major companies, Philips Lighting and Asia Paint, that had started the journey to S/4 HANA. Both had started with Simple Finance and their planned programs spread out over several years to complete the full transition to S/4. Yet SAP continues to deliver the message that implementation times should be measured in weeks and months as opposed to years.
In support of that message, SAP are working hard on simplifying architectures and building acceleration tools and aids, which will improve adoption and implementation times. In addition, the future for SAP is clearly the cloud with cloud infrastructure services provided by one of the major players. In fact, SAP no longer sees itself as just a software vendor but rather as a business partner helping customers on the digital transformation journey to becoming an “Intelligent Enterprise”.
Article by Martin Brownsword, Images by EM Fahrer