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My Highlights from SAPPHIRE NOW this Year

By now, I’d usually be back in the office from our annual customer event SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, maybe after a couple of days in Miami Beach or Key West. I’d still be pretty tired and jet-lagged but full of energy from the buzz and excitement of the keynotes, the show floor, the meetings with customers and partners and all the other events that are crammed in just a few days. So, how do I feel after this year’s virtual experience? Apart from not missing the jetlag, I feel the same level of energy and anticipation of things to come than last year.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has literally turned the world upside-down, I talked to many customers who told me about the new and very different challenges they face: Their supply chains are under pressure, they need to change their production towards goods that are in high need, they need to run daily cash forecasting instead of monthly, and some customers realize that their statistical models won’t work anymore in the future. Within our virtual SAPPHIRE program, I had conversations with our customers Parkland Health and Hospital System and Henkel who shared how they remain agile and adapt to change during the current pandemic.

Scott Harrison and Clay Townsend are Chief Data Officer and Director Enterprise Data Services at Parkland Health and Hospital System, a modern acute care hospital and outpatient clinic located throughout the Dallas County, Texas. They told me, among other things, that the pandemic made them focus back on the basics: Listen to what the employees actually need and then tackle it from a technical perspective. They were telling me that they can create all the technology in the world, but until they properly enable their business and clinical staff to use it to combat the pandemic, it’s worth nothing. Secondly, they once again appreciated the power of data to make informed decisions and take actionable insights. Using the different technologies of SAP’s Business Technology Platform, they create value from their diverse data to respond in real-time to queries such as: What do the arrivals look like? What’s the lab testing look like? How many staff do we need? Can we identify hotspots of where the patients are coming from? You can hear Parkland’s entire journey in the video.

I also spoke with Sascha Latzberg, Corporate Director, Sales & Channel Excellence CRM at Henkel Adhesive Technologies, the largest adhesive producer in the world. Sascha shared with me how Henkel kept their business operational during the current pandemic, ensured to stay true to their customer intimacy commitment, and had a close eye on their supply chain. Henkel, just like Parkland, has a strong digital backbone, which is even more important nowadays. They, for example, started to fully migrate to SAP Cloud for Customer in 2017 already. The current crisis is a catalyst for digitalization and also enables companies that are more advanced on their digital journey to better weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henkel realized early on that they needed to equip their sales team with different tools that better supported remote and virtual customer relationships. To enable their sales reps to continue to engage with customers and deliver strong customer support, Henkel is building the GrACE app to extend their CRM-solution. Among others Henkel makes use of various components of our Business Technology Platform (BTP): SAP Cloud Platform Extension Suite, Kubernetes based Kyma for scalability, SAP Conversational AI, and a native mobile app with SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS to extend SAP Sales Cloud. It’s really great to see how the different technologies of the BTP work together to make the life of Henkel’s sales team easier and to ultimately deliver a superior experience for their customers. You can hear more from my conversation with Sascha in this video.

Now, what would a SAPPHIRE be without news and updates? In my keynote, that you can watch here, I walk you through the role of the Business Technology Platform for the Intelligent Enterprise and how it powers our applications and industry clouds. We’ve also added significant enhancements and new capabilities to every major component of our Business Technology Platform to help customers across all industries overcome their challenges and transform data into business value. You can read all about it in the press release ‘SAP’s Business Technology Platform: A Trifecta of Data Excellence, Integration & Extension for the Intelligent Enterprise’ and the Technology & Innovation News Guide.

In addition to that, Christian Klein explained in his keynote SAP’s evolved vision of the Intelligent Enterprise (IE) to refine our focus on customers’ success along resilient, profitable and sustainable business outcomes. In addition to the key components of our IE strategy such as Intelligent Suite, Experience Management and the Business Technology Platform, we are expanding and offering additional value to our customers. We introduced SAP’s Industry Cloud that offers cloud-native industry applications to optimize the intelligent enterprise for the unique needs of each industry. We will build a new kind of Business Network that expands beyond business processes within a company to digitize processes that reach across companies and even ecosystems. Lastly and most importantly, we will help intelligent enterprises to understand and minimize their carbon footprint with our Climate 21 program. And we do all of that while continuously driving our efforts around integration, innovation as well as agility and speed.

Besides many great virtual conversations with customers, partners, press, analysts and bloggers, I also joined my fellow board colleagues for a Q&A session on the last day of SAPPHIRE. So, you can see, even though things were different than usual, there were quite a few highlights for me at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW.

For now, please continue to stay safe and healthy and take care of yourselves and others.

And, fingers crossed, that we see each other in Orlando next year!

This is a repost, the blog post was initially published on LinkedIn.
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  • The virtual Sapphire was such a huge success that it brought down the stream during the keynote. Why meet again in Orlando if the virtual Sapphire has a better reach?

    • name a brought down stream a huge sucess.. meh

      Could(no.. should) be an alternative if there is a better planning next time. To break it down.. the scheduling was weired, the stream not available and the website… you might even know better than me…

      So yes, a digital experience from a digital company.. yes! But it has to be delivered in a way of satisfaction.