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In mid-September, an SAP employee named Brian Duffy had an extraordinary idea to make a difference in the Syrian refugee crisis. With his boss’s support, he reached out to the popular band, Imagine Dragons, which also wanted to help and wrote the song, “I was Me.” But now, Brian had to convince Apple to join the effort. One email led to another, and soon, Brian was connected to Eddie Cue, the head of iTunes.

By October 9, Imagine Dragons, Apple and Universal Music had signed an agreement. Three days later, the band performed the song in the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany, and it was available on iTunes. It wasn’t long before the song caught fire on social-media platforms, with over 200 million mentions to date.

What does this story illustrate? It shows that one person with one powerful idea can change the world, promote social causes, and improve business – all with the aid of the right technology.

SAP does that every day, empowering its customers to innovate, because we’re constantly innovating ourselves. We’re casting aside boundaries of the past. We’re creating new models and technologies that allow our customers, partners and our entire ecosystem to master the digital transformation. And there’s hardly a better place to announce what development heroes can achieve – and what SAP has learned – than SAP TechEd Las Vegas.

Lesson 1: “Digital Transformation” Means Focusing on the Customer

It’s a term you’ve heard a lot. But for SAP, “digital transformation” means putting the customer at the center of everything we do, providing an individualized, personalized and multi-channel experience. Customers are no longer satisfied with a static, generic experience. As a result, many businesses have to rethink their customer relationship management (CRM) models.

Today,CRM is not about the business pushing information (products, promos, etc.) to the customer; rather, it requires that companies analyze data, respond and react dynamically to each customer, on every channel and on any device during the whole journey. Customers expect a seamless, consistent, yet highly individualized experience – and companies need to react to that.

Only in this way can a company deepen customer loyalty.

Loyalty is the differentiator in today’s competitive marketplace. Many studies say it costs five to six times as much to acquire new customers than to retain and keep customers happy.

To help companies build loyalty, we have SAP hybris Profile, the command/control center of all customer information. The SAP hybris Customer Experience provides multi-channel content management, giving customers a consistent offering across sales, marketing, service, and e-commerce channels. With SAP hybris Commerce Suite, businesses see, on average, a 40% increase in online sales, and a 21% increase in average shopping cart size (Source: SAP.com).

SAP hybris as a Service helps customers to stay ahead of the curve by providing community, autonomy and simplicity. The foundation is the SAP HANA Cloud Platform – which is also the platform on which developers can build “microservices,” meaning, small, decoupled apps. SAP HANA Cloud Platform enables a “mash-up” of services that aggregate data from many areas of the business and deliver tenant-specific, configurable flows. You can build, publish, and share your apps on what is not just a platform but a true service.

SAP Vehicles Network (SVN) is a great example of how SAP HANA Cloud Platform-based microservices can be used to connect customers to both the network and the platform, creating new value.

Lesson 2: Make the Design Consumer-Centric

Apple and BMW: What do these two companies have in common? Design. They prove that customers respond to stellar design, and this, in turn, builds loyalty. Every single product you touch, in fact, has been designed: your smartphone, your fitness tracker, your eyeglasses. To remain competitive, you need to create customer-friendly products that offer both an amazing user experience and rich functionality.

For the first time, Gartner reported that, in 2015, UX was the number one topic of interest for IT leaders, up from number sixteen just one year before. IT organizations in the software space, and across industries, are focusing on design not just as a way to build better apps, but as a strategic driver.

SAP HANA Cloud provides a full development platform, letting you create a consumer-grade app from scratch. The objective is, of course, to deliver the right app, to the right customer, at the right time and at the right cost. How do you do that, though? With our UXaaS, you have the means to build (templates, prototypes, and collecting feedback), as well as deliver apps (coding, extensions and managing the lifecycle).

SAP is serious about design. We just won the Red Dot Award for our work on the SAP Fiori 2.0 design concepts. And here, we were up against household names such as Apple, BMW, Bose and even Ferrari!

Lesson 3: Analytics Will Unlock Business Potential As Never Before

To manage your company effectively, you have to be able to do data-driven, real-time planning, and it must be integrated across multiple sources. That’s why we’re very excited about SAP Cloud for Analytics. It combines analytics, planning and simulation in one cloud-based environment.

With the planning capabilities available today, SAP customers such as Live Oak Bank are already experiencing the benefits of SAP Cloud for Analytics. Given its rapid growth, the bank needed a tool that would allow it to make real-time decisions based on forecasts and strategic initiatives.

“SAP Cloud for Analytics was transformational by allowing real-time updates to our plans, collaboration across the organization from within the app, advanced analytics and one-click visualization for our users,” said Stephen Hayes, analytics manager, Live Oak Bank. “The end-user experience was well-received from our leadership team to our analysts.”

Live Oak proves that businesses need the following to thrive: data discovery, analytics, predictive and simulation capabilities, all in one product, and designed for SaaS and built for high performance, scalability and extensibility. Furthermore, they need a product that can be used in the Boardroom, within the finance team, or in front of the customer.

That brings me to a related topic. At SAP, Board meetings run differently now. We call it the “Digital Boardroom,” and it’s built on SAP Cloud for Analytics. Our meetings run based on real-time data. We can examine opportunities, revenues, costs, support data and more. Discussions are supported by metrics and insights from various applications, including SAP hybris, SAP S/4HANA, as well as external sources – but without any replication from these sources, regardless whether they’re in the cloud or on premise.

Analytics will never be the same, because everything can now be integrated.

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Lesson 4: IoT is About Outcomes, Not Products

Did you happen to be traveling in Europe during the heatwave this summer? If so, you no doubt encountered unhappy customers on trains with broken air conditioning. But it was all preventable.

Using the “Dynamic Management Maintenance System,” powered by SAP HANA, TRENITALIA is able to monitor 2,000 of its locomotives. They identify and monitor data from more than six million sensors and analyze hundreds of terabytes of data in real time. Thanks to effective software algorithms and dynamic maintenance, TRENITALIA avoids unplanned outages and keeps their customers happy.

The sensors are expected to save them 8 percent annually in maintenance costs, or multi-millions of Euros per year.

That’s how the Internet of Things (IoT) should work – it should be based on outcomes, not products.

And SAP HANA is the platform that lets you connect myriad devices, analytics, and specific services. It goes beyond just connecting to huge amounts of data, because it also processes the data in real-time, provides predictions, trends, and a direct tie to your business operations.

While the sensors I mentioned save countless travelers inconvenience and hassle, the same sensors are poised to generate an overload of data.

In fact, about 90 percent of all global data has been generated in just the past two years. Imagine the data overload by the year 2020! The more data you have, the faster you must analyze it, and in this way, the better you can manage your business.

SAP HANA Vora is the new in-memory query engine that uses and extends the Apache Spark framework to provide interactive analytics on Hadoop. With SAP Vora, you can make more precise decisions through greater contextual awareness, “democratize” data, and enable your data scientists to improve OLAP analysis on Hadoop data.

What’s next…

In conclusion, SAP TechEd 2015 is the place to learn about our innovations – and start innovating! So build your app, tell your story, and share your successes on SCN.

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  1. Kevin Lee Elder

    I would add a fifth takeaway, when SAP is talking heavily about moving part of your business to the cloud you know the cloud is for real!  Cloud for Analytics is a game changer for many organizations.  Will be fun to teach it to new college graduates so they can become new business employees and watch the transformations begin!

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