Last week I returned from an amazing Sapphire in Orlando with great keynotes, overwhelming showcases and exhibitions and numerous presentations and demos, all in support of SAP’s strategy to help customers win in the digital economy. Numerous discussions with chemical customers and partners showed a strong momentum for Digital Transformation, S/4HANA adoption as digital foundation and the transition to the cloud. In fact, recent research conducted by Accenture shows that 82% of chemicals executives say that the size of their investments in digital technologies has increased in the past 2 years and 80% of chemical executives believe that digital technologies will have a positive impact on their company over the next 5 years.

Here are some highlights from Sapphire:

  1. Keynotes

SAP CEO Bill McDermott the CEO of SAP SE expressed in his SAPPHIRENOW opening speech a clear commitment that there is an urgent need to build a digital civilization, providing opportunities for all people in the world globally and SAP is there for everyone even in uncertain periods to helping the word run better. He emphasized SAP ‘s dedication to empathy, commitment and collaboration with customers. Bill McDermott also introduced and outlined the vision of SAP Leonardo’s digital innovation system vision for the intelligent enterprise. Watch the speech here.
Listen also to Bernd Leukert’s keynote on “Software as a Strategy” and Hasso Plattner speaking about the “Intelligent Future”. Read the blog summarizing the keynotes.

  1. Panel Discussion

An energy and natural resources industry panel session was moderated by Peter Maier featuring Keith Sturgill (CIO Eastman Chemical), Steven Carter (CIO C&J Energy Services) and Sergey Detyuk (CIO Metinvest). The panelists elaborated on how to generate business value and better interact with customers and partners by redefining boundaries and driving change through digital transformation. Furthermore, the power of innovations enabled by cloud and mobile solutions, the IoT, machine learning, and business networks became clearly obvious. Listen to the replay

  1. Demo Theaters

Overall 4 demo theater sessions focusing on chemicals were run with emphasis on SAP’s new Digital Framework, particularly zooming in on the Digital Core, ARIBA, IT/OT integration and Hybris for Chemicals. The sessions were well attended, the feedback was very positive and follow up sessions could already be targeted with customers and partners to deeper dive into those topics.

  1. Interactive Sessions

Also the 2 interactive sessions around SAP’s Best Practices solution now available on S/4HANA and the new ARIBA Direct Procurement solution were held and triggered very lively discussions around new functions, features and roadmaps. In particular, toll manufacturing and containerization/multiple units of measure was discussed for future development.

  1. Demo Station

Topics triggering most interest at the demo station were core manufacturing, core procurement and the peripheral Cloud solutions, in particular Hybris eCommerce. Customer who were planning to go to S/4HANA where still interested in optimizing their current ERP solution. Also, several discussions on predictive / machine learning were held -. what is it, what can we do, where can we start”? Furthermore, the Best Run Chemical Company Transformational Roadmap, the Digital Boardroom for Chemicals and SAP Connected Agriculture resonated very well at the station.

  1. ASUG Chemical Track

The Sapphire chemical sessions were very well supplemented by a dedicated ASUG track. E.g. DuPont was showing how a “data in hub model” helps to deliver on synergies from mergers and acquisitions. Dow Chemical discussed how Business Planning and Consolidation on HANA significantly enhanced the intercompany closing cycles. And Hitachi Consulting explained the benefits of running chemical manufacturing on SAP’s Digital Core.
The sessions from the ASUG Chemicals Track can be found and downloaded here.

  1. Digital Transformation Navigator

The new Digital Transformation Navigator attracted a huge amount of attention – various sessions were held with chemical customers. Among those were Dow Chemical, LyondelBasell, Lubrizol, Mitsui Chemicals, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Axalta, Olin and Air Products and the feedback was very positive and solid transformation recommendations could be given.

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