SAP’s annual SAPPHIRENOW user conference kicked off with a bang, with over 20,000 people onsite in Orlando Convention Center and many more watching the live webcast.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott started by addressing a topic that has been in the news: “I hear that indirect access is causing some anxiety out there!…” He announced simplified pricing measures based on conversations with customer groups and analysts. These include things like basing Procure to Pay on the number of orders processed, and having no charge for read access of static data from third party applications. The immediate reaction on twitter was positive, saying that this addressed a key customer pain point.
McDermott reviewed the continued strong growth of SAP HANA and S/4HANA — “a cloud ERP for the 21st century.” He touched on SAP’s wide range of line-of-business and industry applications and emphasized the expansion of the SAP ecosystem with new partnerships with other digital leaders such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.
For McDermott, this year was about turning “empathy into action” — giving customers what they have asked for: guidance, not just options. This includes detailed, three-year solution roadmaps, the SAP Transformation Manager that helps plan a smooth transition to S/4HANA, and the SAP Cloud Trust Center for greater transparency.
McDermott was joined on stage by Michael Dell, founder and chairman of Dell Computers, who talked of the “Cambrian explosion” of business opportunity that was being driven by cheap, intelligent devices, new 5G networks, and artificial intelligence to process all the data. “IT used to be about cost and productivity. Digital transformation is different — it’s the strategic evolution of the company”.
According to Dell, IT now has to be completely aligned with strategy of the company, because “You can’t do anything any more without IT” — whether it’s building products or customer relationships. He concluded by saying “The last 30 years have been amazing and incredible, but the next 30 years will make it all look like child’s play. We’re just at the beginning of the digital transformation opportunities.”
McDermott compared SAP’s approach with the science of the human genome. New sequencing technology is transforming medicine, by gathering data, analyzing it, and using to to learn, treat and cure diseases, and improve quality of life. “When you think of digital business, SAP is the genome sequencer of the digital enterprise.”
Digital transformation isn’t a one-step process, it’s a journey, and speed is vital, according to McDermott: “When it comes to the digital economy, there will be early adopters and also-rans. It’s SAP’s job to help you be an early adopter.”
That’s the thinking that drove the launch of SAP Leonardo, the new SAP system for digital innovation, “the biggest move the company has made since SAP HANA”.
Mala Anand, president of SAP Leonardo and Juergen Mueller, SAP Chief Innovation officer came on stage to give more details. The Leonardo brand name had previously been used by SAP to cover the company’s Internet of Things portfolio of products and applications, but has now been expanded to cover a new approach to digital transformation.
Anand explained that the new SAP Leonardo was created to deliver transformation at scale. It’s not just a set of products or a platform, but a digital innovation system that helps you redefine your business for the new world.
It starts by using design thinking to reimagine business processes. The new vision is used to create and test rapid prototypes. The prototypes are tested and a business case created for full scale deployments based on existing solutions and roadmaps. SAP Leonardo includes robust set of industry accelerators with services to adapt them to individual customer needs.
Mueller gave an example of how the system works, showing the steps behind the creation of a SAP Cloud for Real Estate application that takes sensor data from 340 SAP buildings around the world and augments it with utilization and cost data.