SAP rocketed into the future with Björn Goerke’s opening keynote at SAP TechEd 2018 Barcelona. It was an inspired spectacle of the intelligent enterprise replete with dazzling demos, big announcements, and a 17-year old astronaut in training to visit Mars.
Yep, you heard right. The chief technology officer and president of SAP Cloud Platform deftly turned the next generation of space exploration into a metaphor for the intelligent enterprise. From the moment he stepped on stage after a countdown of history’s greatest spacecraft missions to recount his childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, to his close wearing full spacesuit regalia and standing on a chair, he thrilled the crowd with his inspirational vision.
“When you feel it’s too cozy and warm in your comfort zone, get up…and pull out a chair to step on and reach beyond,” he said. “Let SAP TechEd be that chair. Step on it. Start dreaming about what could be and be curious how to make it a reality. But it’s YOU who needs to take that first step.”
Curiosity feeds intelligence
While there was no movie take-off as in years’ past (Back to the Future, Star Trek), Goerke and his guests shared an equally compelling journey to a new business world, powered by SAP’s integrated processes, openness and embedded intelligence. Pointing to a dramatic view of the galaxy behind him, Goerke noted how much remained to explore. Although he’d lost his dream of becoming an astronaut, he’d kept his curiosity and passion to go beyond known boundaries.
“Can enterprises be curious too, constantly striving to gain new insights? At SAP, we believe they can. We call it the intelligent enterprise,” he said. “They respond faster to changes in the marketplace…differentiate through key capabilities and deliver game-changing outcomes…and redefine the end-to-end customer experience and transform their workforce engagement. Our mission at SAP is to help our customers achieve all of this and deliver the intelligent enterprise.”
Goerke drove home how SAP helped companies reach for the stars with a line-up of action-packed demos wrapped around the challenges of a fictional space travel agency.
Journey to the intelligent enterprise
Sindhu Gangadharan, vice president & head of integration, office of the CTO at SAP, demonstrated how SAP Intelligent Enterprise Total Workforce Management, as part of the intelligent suite, gave companies automation and connectivity between departments ─ finance, HR, procurement, sales ─ to improve productivity and make work easier. By sharing data across groups, people can work together, better aligning decisions to actual market demands.
Assuming the role of a commander leading a Mars mission with open positions to fill, (astronaut and physical instructors), Gangadharan showed how SAP infused intelligence into end-to-end integrated business processes. The simulation provided a comprehensive view of team, recruitment and budget status, the essence of an integrated, intelligent, unified experience.
SAP knows it isn’t alone in the universe
Gangadharan’s second demo put the spotlight on SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors and integration content advisor that used machine learning for simpler and faster integration between applications within SAP and other systems. She quickly created a mapping proposition to a third-party application, a specialized supplier to her “space agency.”
“An intelligent enterprise is an integrated enterprise. It needs to be open to connect to any application using open APIs. It needs to be holistic to support…different deployment options…and personas. It’s about infusing intelligence into the core integration,” she said. “This is how we’ve simplified and accelerated intelligent integration. Using the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, we can talk to any supplier that exists out there.”
Master data is lifeblood of business processes
Jana Richter, head of product management, SAP Cloud Platform Core, stayed on the space mission thread, demonstrating how SAP’s master data management services in the SAP Cloud Platform deliver the integrated suite. She showed how easy it was to reuse master data for centralized and accurate information, in this case passenger bookings on a journey to Mars.
Enterprise-grade SAP conversational AI
Among the noteworthy announcements was intelligent robotic process automation (RPA). It’s designed to help companies refocus humans away from repetitive, error-prone tasks towards higher value responsibilities. Gangadharan returned to the stage to preview how fast it was to build a bot that automated daily tasks, in this instance, ordering a laptop. Use machine learning, robotics and SAP CoPilot, Gangadharan quickly uploaded an image of the laptop which automatically connected with the SAP S/4HANA suite to identify the make and model, and created a reusable bot.
“SAP is delivering the next generation of business process automation that helps customers achieve a step change in productivity,” said Goerke.
Mars generation of STEM professionals
Renewed fervor for space travel has skyrocketed, making Alyssa Carson’s quest for Mars much more than a fresh perspective from youth. While not every developer plans on traveling 40 million miles to Mars, Carson’s pioneering spirit couldn’t have been more apt. This teenager hopes to journey to Mars in 2033, and she joined Goerke on stage to talk about her learnings. She saw herself as an inspiration for people to explore their dreams and advised young people to start early in school.
“See what’s available to you and what careers match your interests…there are so many possibilities…especially for this new generation, there’s going to be jobs that we don’t know what they are yet,” said Carson. “Find your passion and work towards that and never let anyone take it away.”
Throughout it all, the only visible reference point to last year’s Star Trek-themed keynote were a couple of stray tribbles perched on the futuristic chairs on stage, one of which Goerke ceremoniously presented to Carson. May the intelligent enterprise live long and prosper.
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This blog also appeared on the SAP News Center.