In a world where business models are disrupted in an instant, SAP S/4HANA is the fastest way to co-innovations and market leadership according to Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and Chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board. Speaking to thousands of customers during his keynote at the annual SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Conference held this week in Orlando, Florida, Plattner laid out a clear business case for companies to transition their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to SAP S/4HANA, focusing on “one database, one platform, one system.” In a conversation studded with riveting demos and unequivocal customer testimonials, Plattner held the audience’s attention with both straightforward facts and figures, as well as his trademark off-the-cuff humor.
“Questions about our road map, delivery and integration have been more intense in recent weeks, but they are not an indication of friction between you [customers] and us,” he said. “What it means is that the number of companies moving to SAP S/4HANA is growing exponentially. You’re asking us when is what available so you can time your moves. So it’s actually a great sign of increased S/4HANA adoption.”
Reducing complexity accelerates innovation
Plattner’s main theme was that customers generally understand the value of SAP S/4HANA adoption, and their main question is how to accelerate their path to adoption.
“Everyone understands how superior the architecture is. It’s not about the quality, speed or simplicity of S/4HANA – that’s all understood,” he said. “It’s only about how customers get there, how long it will take to transfer data, and how can we accelerate.”
Comparing SAP S/4HANA’s simplicity to that of the Tesla automobile, Plattner said the platform is the foundation an explosion of innovative applications. He was backed by video testimonials from companies including Asian Paints, Electronica Steren and Innovabee that hammered home the speed of transitioning and business value of the platform. Plattner also emphasized the sea change SAP S/4HANA represents for how companies collaborate using the SAP Digital Boardroom, and co-innovate with partnerships like the ones SAP recently announced with Apple and Microsoft.
“These are the mega-moves,” he said. “We are bringing data together on the HANA Cloud Platform from networks, ERP systems – everywhere – to build powerful applications that have nothing to do with traditional areas.”
Four steps to transformation
The centerpiece of his keynote featured an on-stage demo of how customers can follow a four-step process starting with SAP’s cloud-based Maintenance Planner to create a transition plan from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA. Using the Planner, customers can analyze existing business processes, and gain recommendations for adaptations to their existing system using pre-checks before making the transition. With the Software Update Manager, customers can convert their current ERP system to SAP S/4HANA in one transition step. Along with system simplification, the demo also showed how SAP supports customers by identifying the resultant adaptations required on any custom code. “I have to admit if you’re a 100 billion revenue company it is a little bit more complicated,” said Plattner. “But we do everything to make this transition as easy, clean and secure as possible. The speed of HANA helps as the downtime is minimized.”
SAP Digital Boardroom for live business
Hasso showcased the SAP Digital Boardroom as a prime example of how SAP S/4HANA allows companies to collaborate in real-time for live business, using immediate insights from anywhere to make fully informed decisions. Interactive business simulations gained by connecting financial and non-financial drivers with KPIs allow managers to validate assumptions in real-time.
“We can now do things for companies that are absolutely amazing,” said Plattner. “Decision-makers can use predictive analytics to simulate results on the fly using data from anywhere – location, spatial, text, mapping. Mash-ups were a playground a few years ago. Now it’s something every program on our platform can do. This is a new world and we built this capability on SAP S/4HANA.”
Meaningful collaboration like a startup
Pointing to the real-time business impact of applications like SAP Financial Statements Insights and SAP RealSpend, Plattner hailed a new era for SAP’s relationships with customers. He shared a vision of what the digitized world looks like, fueled by machine learning to produce intelligent enterprise applications along with stronger customer co-innovation. “Big Data from SAP S/4HANA, business networks and cloud applications mean that people can now build out applications we have never had or done, even together with you,” he said. “The collaboration is at a level of unbelievable quality. Only with your domain knowledge can we build applications like this. We need your expertise, and are going back to the early days of SAP because that’s how startups run.”
Plattner’s keynote closed with one of the most fascinating demos of the prototyped SAP Knowledge Workspace, (shown at right), an open collaborative workspace for virtual problem-solving and decision-making. Instead of wasting time on email chains, and searching for data in disparate systems, teams can bring all the information and experts together in one place to gain predictive insights and take action quickly.
“The days of the single clerk working on the same task every day are most likely replaced by machine learning and automation,” he said. “I believe this is the future for workspaces where different experts come together and create meaningful collaboration.”
Follow me @smgaler
Watch Hasso Plattner’s keynote replay at SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG 2016