After two days of marathons of walking, talking, learning, and networking, you might think that on day 3 of the show the energy level would decrease a bit at the industry campus at SAPPHIRE NOW. But of course there were enough highlights not to miss. Fatigue was simply not an option.

Highlight 1: S/4HANA – Should You, and If So, When and How?


First and foremost, many of our customers ask the question if, when and how they should move to SAP S/4HANA. The panel discussion “Embrace digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA” with the panlelists Ethan Kennelly, Director Enterprise Architecture with O.C. Tanner, Laetitia Debout, Business Relationship Manager with McInnis Cement, Ajit Shriram, Joint Managing Director with DCM Shriram and Anil Mandot, Senior Joint President ( Commercial) with Mangalam Cement, shed some light on these questions.

Here are some key messages from the discussion: The reasons to move to SAP S/4HANA varies from case to case. Sometimes the pace of innovation drives the requirement for a flexible platform, sometimes growth across geographies increases complexity in a way traditional software cannot handle it anymore.

When moving to SAP S/4HANA, the question standardization versus customization comes up quickly. The recommendation from the panel was to only customize processes that are strategic differentiators for a company. One panelist even only customizes if it is justified through a business case. During the implementation of SAP S/4HANA an agile approach was preferred by the panelists – start small but prove that the processes work fast, and use them. To overcome resistances from the end users to change systems, the following best practices were recommended: Explain the benefits, get people involved to find out the value to the customers and how things can be done more easily, and last not least actually show and make it visible how the solution works. Engage employees across the enterprise, build a change management team, and conduct extensive user trainings

As concluding remarks, the panel gave some valuable advices to consider when going digital: be crystal clear why you want to move ahead before starting the project and don’t wait forever for the next innovation. It will self realize where you are next. If there are symptoms around today that indicate what is on the horizon, get up to speed, simplify and get the best time to value to avoid you are in trouble tomorrow.

Highlight 2: Networked Economy, Examples: 1. The Digital Retailer and a Football Game; 2. New Travel Experience

Imagine there is a football game in your town next weekend. It is almost there already everywhere: TV, ads, promotions all over the place, parties being planned. How can a single grocery store make a success for the fans and for their own sales? Predictive analytics and networks are the answer!

Here is a scenario that illustrates how it works. The promotions planner of the grocery store analyze the results of similar past promotions to conclude the best strategy. Further, other parallel promotions can be taken into account to avoid any cannibalization effects. After the promotion has been designed, the right customers can be targeted. Talking about the consumers, let’s have a look at a fan, Candy, organizing a party for the game. Candy has many friends, so she figures she needs to buy some extra chairs and tables, so she plans an extra shopping tour for that part in addition to buying her food. Candy gets a customer loyalty e-mail with the promotion for the game from the grocery store, which is a perfect fit to her needs, so she starts putting together her shopping list online in this store. While putting together her basket, she finds party chairs and tables on the website – a nice surprise since she was not aware the same store was selling them. Now she can save some time as she can buy all at once. Meanwhile, the store manager checks with his mobile phone what is already in the store, what is in the back room, and which replenishments will come in next. The chair vendor sees the order in the Ariba portal and creates an invoice that is automatically checked against errors and that contains a discount for early payments improving working capital. Candy goes to the store to pick up the food from the shopping list she already paid online. She also adds some coffee, cheese and milk which she was running out that morning. While checking out, there is complete visibility what was already paid and the missing additional amount. After the game, the promotions manager can analyze the results of the promotion and finds out the number of average orders went up because they offered the chairs for the first time. In the end, all parties won: Candy threw a fantastic party, and the store achieved an uplift in sales.

Next example on the networked economy is all about improving the travel experience. By connecting the HANA Cloud platform to Amazon’s Alexa, travelers can book their trip like never before. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables a more conversational engagement for booking and planning trips, allowing for a virtual travel assistant that everyone can afford. SAP is leveraging innovation from leading technologies like the Amazon development platform to bring the very latest in customer engagement to the market.


Highlight 3: IoT Scenrios: Connected Footwear Enabled by SAP Retail and Smart Cities Powered by Philips and SAP

The demo session “Connected footwear – how is wearable technology changing retail?” gave new inspirational ideas on how SAP can help overcome the following challenges: How can retailers sell products to the right consumers at the right time? And how can they better understand what triggers the buying moment? There is certainly not the one and only answer to these questions, but the IoT can definitely be a step into the right direction. Take the example of wearables. Or even more specific, a sports shoe with sensors in the sole. Traditionally, retailers send promotions to all customers who opted into a customer retention program, and hope to catch some fishes with this offer. At the same time, the offer is lost by those consumers who are still happily using the product. If a smart shoe indicates that the sole is getting pretty thin, in other words the point of the next purchase is very close, the retailer can personalize his offer and the timing. Putting this one level up, the retailer can monitor across regions where the need of new shoes is the highest at a certain point in time and adjust the campaigns accordingly. When the order comes in, and the consumer wants to know if the product is in store, the sales rep can order it through the Ariba Supply Network, and make sure the shoe is ready for pick up at the desired date and includes the promotional discount. This new purchase is registered again in the system so that the retailer can monitor again the signal and react in them smartly. Overall, the interactions get much closer to the consumers, and the customer relationship is deepened.

As a second IoT example, Philips showed how to unlock the $60B connected lighting market. They asked themselves: can lighting go beyond illumination? Their answer was clearly a “yes”! For Philips, lighting is information, provides orientation and can create emotions. Specifically, lighting in cities determines the perceived safety and delivers a major part of a city’s identity. Infrastructures for lightening are extremely complex, and they are subject to energy cost. Therefore, cities need to manage their assets smartly: how many lights are working, how much energy do they consume, and do they actually run when they are supposed to and don’t run when they are not to? Achieving this transparency and reacting quickly when needed is challenging. Connecting the assets digitally helps to provide the right amount of light at the right time and place. LEDs with PCDs inside make this possible; it is pretty straightforward to add communications on top and connect it to the Internet. That way, additional features like changing the colors of the light depending on specific events becomes pretty easy. Lighting infrastructures are subject to risk, such as failure risk or risk of skyrocketing energy prices. Who should take the risk? It could be the municipal or it could be transferred to a dedicated service provider – which is actually the current trend. But what about the risk associated with external partners. Again, connected lighting is the answer. Connected lighting enables to better understand if the third party is doing their job well as measurement of the KPIs is already part of the infrastructure.

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And yes, I can only echo that lighting does make a difference. If someone had any doubt about this, the Coldplay concert, a highlight that definitely has to be mentioned that happening after the official SAPPHIRE NOW program, proved it differently. As if the live music itself, the British politeness and humor of the singer, and the light show on stage would have not been enough, they gave each person in the audience wrist bands that were parts of the light show – a spectacular effect. With these images in mind, I very much look forward to SAPPHIRE NOW 2017 already!

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