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2019 SAP Global Partner Summit – Big News, Big Event

If you missed the action, you can view all the replays on YouTube!

By Scott Campbell

A record of more than 2,500 partners attended this year’s SAP Global Partner Summit to hear about SAP’s Next-Generation Partnering strategy, new customer experience initiatives, and how SAP is planning to double its partner economy over the next five years.

By all accounts, there are plenty of growth opportunities with SAP, and the growth of this year’s Summit itself is indicative of SAP’s investments in partner success, executives said. This year, the event was moved to much bigger quarters, Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center, which provided the space to house more content to keep the record crowd engaged.

The 2019 Summit featured 34 demo stations on topics including SAP S/4HANA Movement, digital core, SAP PartnerEdge Build Integrate, line-of-business solutions, the marketing journey to revenue, SAP App Center, and many more. In addition, there were 42 breakout sessions, not including keynote speeches, and a total of more than 650 hours of content.

“You have contributed heavily to the success of SAP. When we look at what’s lying ahead of us, we can only hit ambitious targets with a strong partner ecosystem,” said Christian Klein, SAP COO, during a keynote interview.

Next-Gen Partnering Comes to Life

Earlier in the day, Adaire Fox-Martin, Executive Board Member, Global Customer Operations, detailed Next-Generation Partnering, an initiative to help SAP partners accelerate Intelligent Enterprise opportunities and deliver optimal customer experiences.

“We want you to partner with us where it makes the most sense, within our Intelligent Enterprise suite of applications, our Intelligent technologies, our digital platform—or across all areas,” Fox-Martin said.

She noted a new IDC study that projects the SAP partner economy (which includes all services, solutions and partner-led innovation surrounding SAP technologies) will double to more than $200 billion by 2023.

“The value we deliver together extends beyond balance sheets. It extends to the impact we have on our joint customers, their businesses and their employees,” Fox-Martin said. “By having a partner-always motion, we ensure and enable consistent growth for you, our ecosystem, and for SAP.”

Enhancing the Customer Experience

In the afternoon keynote, CEO Bill McDermott said SAP has invested $70 billion in research and development and acquisitions over the last 10 years—all designed to transform the company to be able to provide end-to-end solutions encompassing both operations and customer experiences.

“We didn’t get into hardware and we didn’t get into services. We went $70 billion in on business software. We invested really fast and we executed super quick. Now we’re entering a whole new generation and a new wave of innovation,” he said.

At the center of that innovation is the Qualtrics acquisition to improve customer experience solutions, a missing component from SAP’s traditional business, McDermott said.

“Seventy-seven percent of the world’s transactions touch SAP systems. We could tell any customer what was going on. The problem was we didn’t know why it was going on,” McDermott said. “There’s a $1.6 trillion economic gap because companies can’t keep customers they already have because their experiences are not well managed. As partners, your business now can be pointed right at that.”

The opportunity around “XO” (Experience and Operations) is almost limitless, said Arlen Shenkman, Executive Vice President, Global Business Development and Ecosystems.

“How can your enterprise be intelligent if you don’t know what your customers and users think about you? If partners are there first and help us solve these problems, we will be very successful,” Shenkman said. “It goes back to the idea that we want our customers to make the right decision, at the right time, with the right innovation,” Shenkman said.

Taking the Next Step

Karl Fahrbach, SAP’s Chief Partner Officer, told the Global Partner Summit crowd that its time for partners to transform their businesses too to ensure long-term success. Next-Generation Partnering requires a different mindset to be successful, Fahrbach said, a focus on customers’ business requirements, not technology.

“It all comes together in Intelligent Enterprise,” Fahrbach said. “You can focus on specific technology pieces, but you have to look at it from what is the customer trying to solve? If you focus on the customer process, the technologies will come together under that. If we want to thrive in cloud together, customer success is the only metric that matters.”

A new Customer First organization within SAP will help ensure that SAP and partners focus on that metric, Fahrbach said. “It’s not going to be about sales or numbers of projects going live,” he said. “This organization will look at new KPIs: adoption, renewals, customer satisfaction. The more we involve partners in the lifecycle of customers, the more value we create for customers.”

Overall, customers are changing the way they do business, increasingly adopting cutting-edge technologies such as cloud, IoT, blockchain, machine learning, and more, Fox-Martin said. The IDC study confirms this trend:

  • At least 55% of organizations will be “digitally determined by 2020, eying the future with new business models and digitally enabled products and services
  • Cloud, analytics and social will grow to $764 billion by 2022, a 14.2% compounded annual growth rate
  • Innovation accelerators such as artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT will grow to $1.8 trillion by 2022, a 17.5% CAGR

To spur partners to develop their own innovation and intellectual property, SAP announced free SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP C/4HANA testing environments to partners for the next 12 months and has extended the free access to SAP Cloud Platform announced at last year’s Global Partner Summit.

Gavin Quinn, CEO and co-founder of Mindset Consulting, a Minneapolis-based SAP partner, said his company has embraced Intelligent Enterprise and the customer experience concept because it makes people’s lives better, which has helped grow his business.

“We are moving people from monotonous work to empowering work,” Quinn said. “The Intelligent Enterprise suite and other new software SAP is putting out can have a great impact on productivity, automation, and the customer experience overall. Also, I’ve been through more than 100 SAP implementations in my lifetime. They’re never successful because of software. They’re successful because of the people here at Global Partner Summit. I’m excited to see more about Intelligent Enterprise and what comes next.”

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