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Flying home from Orlando, Florida and the annual SAP SAPPHIRE NOW / ASUG 2016 conference, I had some time to scroll through Twitter and a few Storify’s (when not catching up on email, loads of email…). This was a very strong year for HR at SAPPHIRE, an event that traditionally caters to IT, because the market for HR technology to speed business transformation is exploding.


Here’s what I had to share at the event in my session on “Transforming Your HR Strategy in a World of Digital Disruption.” In it, I address today’s megatrends and their impacts on company strategies, and the incredible pressure being placed on HR to reinvent the function and reimagine how to find, develop, and support the people you need to win. A key to effective transformation is in undertaking a digital approach to HR and employing new digital technologies to help every employee get out in front of business changes and the opportunities that arise from them. For us, success is simply human.


There are a few reasons why I believe this is the case:

  1. In our world of digital transformation, the journey to HR transformation is about people, not just HR, meaning the story resonates across the entire business.
  2. Businesses today are investing in their people, and the HR technology needed to support them, so more business buyers want to know what SAP has to offer, and a greater number of HR leaders find more value in attending SAPPHIRE today.
  3. Transformation is not easy, so hearing from the companies who are successfully navigating their way through change has great value for others.
  4. The message of empathy with the customer resonates, because it’s not just something we understand about our own clients, it’s something they are experiencing with their clients as well.

Here are my highlights from this year’s SAPPHIRE

Diversity and inclusion – Today our software is built to help support clients in addressing both, and we’ll introduce a good deal more innovation around this in coming releases. Press releases are always exciting, but this Facebook video with our global head of product management Thomas Otter, and Constellation Research’s Holger Mueller, really gets to the heart of what this initiative is all about, as does this blog from Steve Hunt. Steve points out one of the key reasons for our focus on this initiative in 2016 is simply that, SAP SuccessFactors is a customer driven company – so what is important to our customers is important to us.” I’m excited to announce new features that will help move business beyond bias at SuccessConnect this year.

Microsoft integration – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined SAP CEO Bill McDermott in his opening keynote to announce that in addition to Microsoft’s plans to deliver broad support for the SAP HANA database and business applications on its Azure cloud, new integration between Microsoft Office 365 and SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, Concur, and of course SAP SuccessFactors will make it easier for users of all these applications to transact seamlessly and intelligently from where they work every day. We’re already delivering tighter integration across the SAP suite, look at where we are with SuccessFactors and Fieldglass today, and the goal is to see that tight integration across all our products, but not to stop there. This announcement reflects our goal to make it easier for people to get their work done no matter what app they’re using, or who built it.

This quote from the Wall Street Journal couldn’t be more true today, “Companies no longer race to keep up with one another, so much as they race to keep up with the customer.” It’s a customer-to-business world today, and as I like to say, success is simply human.

Finally, we shared our current and longer-term vision around innovations such as intelligent services, continuous performance management, and in learning and recruiting. Don’t miss:

  1. My presentation “Transform Your HR Strategy in a World of Digital Disruption.”
  2. Conversation on the “future of work is digital with our global lead for solutions management David Ludlow in a blog and video with the team at SiliconANGLE / theCUBE. David asks you to consider if your employees are fully committed to your company goals, and how we at SuccessFactors can help connect all those dots today.
  3. Finally, SHRM covered a panel where I was joined by HR executives from American Airlines, PepsiCo, and Timken. We tackled the topics of the role of HR in digital transformation, and the future of work. SHRM recap here.

All told, it was a great week for those of us who believe that while technology stars at SAPPHIRE, the heartbeat of your business is still your employees. We look forward to sharing even more at our upcoming SuccessConnect events – Aug. 29-31 in Las Vegas, Nov. 28-29 Vienna, as well as Sydney (Oct. 24-25) and Tokyo (Nov. 10).

Hope to see you there to continue the conversation started at SAPPHIRE. Until then, check out HR Run Live, a new site to help you reimagine HR in the digital age.

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