Answers to open questions from the SAP TechEd Media & Analyst Q&A
The first completely virtual SAP TechEd is behind us. We had a fantastic time and are grateful we had the chance to hear from so many of you. Thank you.
As Head of Global Public Relations, it was my pleasure to moderate the Media & Analyst session with our Executive Board members Juergen Mueller and Thomas Saueressig. We had a great discussion but, as often happens, couldn’t answer every question given time constraints. So here we’ve provided responses to the top open questions from the panel – that is, the questions we weren’t able to get to that received the most votes from the participants.
How do you differentiate against your key competitors (Oracle, Workday) today and what is coming 2021 to make SAP more attractive – for platform and product?
Our recipe of success has always been to provide a very deep and rich software stack that helps our customers to run the most mission-critical processes and transform their businesses. SAP delivers best practices built on decades of industry expertise, along with a whole portfolio of integrated solutions that support the entire value chain – not just small aspects of it. No one else can offer that.
Customers such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) rely on us to power their digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA and to simplify the overall organizational structure and processes.
The pandemic has shown that companies expect our help to become more resilient in a crisis. For 2021, we will accelerate our move to the cloud to enable end-to-end business transformation. We will also continue pursuing our clear integration roadmap.
Now and in the future, these are the elements of our product strategy we are focusing on:
- SAP Business Technology Platform
- Industry Cloud including partnerships
- Intelligent Suite, using AI and integrating our portfolio
- Sustainability, e.g. Climate21
- Business Network / network of networks
It’s great to see so much progress around the “Integration” topic. Can you talk about how this is relevant for the on-prem ERP customers?
Please check out the detailed information on the value for customers in a blog post by Thomas Saueressig on LinkedIn or SAP News. You can also find detailed information about the following end-to-end processes in these SAP Community blogs: Hire to Retire, Travel to Reimburse, Source to Pay, Design to Operate, and Lead to Cash. Additionally, here is a detailed description of the External Workforce end-to-end scenario.
Hybrid integration is addressed in this blog post by Juergen Mueller, which includes the related SAP Business Technology Platform capabilities. For SAP S/4HANA on premise specifically, this blog focuses on APIs and Business Events. It also includes the announcement about the publication of SAP S/4HANA APIs on API Business Hub, more precisely, 290 modern HTTP-based APIs (150 OData and 140 SOAP APIs), including 178 Business Events.
Can you provide an update on the number of customers who currently run SAP S/4HANA? And what do you see as the main challenges in terms of the customers transition to S/4HANA?
SAP S/4HANA Adoption as of Q3/2020:
- SAP S/4HANA Licensed Customers: > 15,100
- SAP S/4HANA Live Customers: > 8,100
As of Q3 2020 we have over 15,100 SAP S/4HANA customers in total. Over 8,100 of these customers are live with SAP S/4HANA. In Q3 we added an additional 500 customers of which 45% were net new. We are selling SAP S/4HANA to our installed base customers and we are also winning new customers. In the third quarter, world class organizations such as Lenovo, Æon, Shanghai Land (Group) Co, and Naturgy chose SAP S/4HANA. Toyota Peru went live on SAP S/4HANA. A fast-growing number of companies of all sizes such as Rabobank, Iugu and Basic-Fit chose SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Sharks Sports & Entertainment, and Korea Gas Corporation are now live on SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
One of the challenges we see is custom code modifications that have evolved over time in our customer systems. To help make the transition to SAP S/4HANA easier for our customers we have offerings such as:
- Our S/4HANA MOVEMENT Program helps our customers and partners to find the right tools and services to support the entire project life cycle.
- The Scope Planning tools such as the SAP Readiness Checkor the SAP Transformation Navigator can help to define scopes.
- The project planning phase is supported by our proven ACTIVATE Methodology while the SAP Best Practice Exploreror the Project Roadmap Viewer for SAP S/4HANA help to find the right procedural steps in the right sequence.
We also support our customers during project execution with offerings that are tailored to the size of the customer’s business that take into consideration factors of transformation scenarios such as brownfield, greenfield, or bluefield. Irrespective of whether a customer decides for SAP or partner-led conversion factories to accelerate their project, smart tools for system conversion or new implementation, or opts for one of our various SAP Value Assurance or SAP Advanced Deployment services, we are with our customers and partners the whole way.
You’ve talked about a developer environment for all. What’s the timeline for each element?
This question seems to be referring to our planned free tier model for SAP Cloud Platform. The vision of the free tier model is to provide an ongoing productive account for customers, partners, as well as individual users to learn, try, explore, and develop with free services with the option to upgrade and unlock additional service capabilities at any time throughout their SAP lifecycle. The free tier model for SAP Cloud Platform will be available in 2021 and it will include the following core functionalities:
- Low entry barrier, no payment information needed for initial 30 days
- Access to a set of free services with a seamless upgrade experience to a paid account
- Free and payable offerings in one account throughout contractual term
- Ongoing environment to learn and explore open SAP courses and SAP integration and extension scenarios
- Full productive environment
- Move content easily between free and paid accounts
- Usage insights
- Cost management features
- Roll out to all productive data centers
We will provide an update on the progress of our free tier model in the beginning of 2021 via our SAP Community.
Can you offer a take on the top three announcements of net-new capabilities? Assuming ABAP in the cloud – the one clear new news announcement in the Keynote — is one of them.
Our new, complementary and integrated Low-Code/No-Code process automation tools address different developer skill levels and automation scenarios to make their lives easier: SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management, the SAP Ruum solution and SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 2.0.
We also added new capabilities to SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP): To protect the ABAP know-how in the world, we announced ABAP to the cloud with the introduction of the SAP Cloud Platform ABAP Environment multitenancy capabilities. Further BTP enhancements include: SAP One Domain Model, a common data model for business objects, a redesigned user experience for SAP API Business Hub, SAP HANA can now be extended with SAP HANA Cloud as a hybrid data solution as well as SAP Data Warehouse Cloud enhancements with data flow builder.
For more information, please check out the press release and the SAP TechEd News Guide we published on day 1 of SAP TechEd. Both include countless news on the SAP Business Technology Platform, SAP One Domain Model, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, SAP HANA Cloud and more.
For the forthcoming low/no-code tools, how will those interact with/utilize CAP and below that ABAP, CDS, et al.?
SAP addresses a continuum of developer personas (Citizen Developers, Application Developers, Cloud Native Developers) and as well a continuum of usage types for our low/no-code offering: from no-code forms workflows and process automation to low-code (and pro-code) composite applications. Artefacts like CAP data models and a more comprehensive application logic (as for instance for extensions of ABAP-based applications) are available for all the tools in the above continuum, managed in a common life cycle as application or automation projects.
Also from the keynote, what’s this I hear about the changing role for Fiori? Are we moving on from the more concrete aspects (FES and other tech foundations)?
The role of SAP Fiori is not changing. We remain committed to SAP Fiori as our design language that brings great user experiences to enterprise applications. SAP Fiori apps simplify doing business based on user roles and business processes, which is at the core of our expertise and strategy moving forward.
Very exciting to hear about future investments in virtual and augmented reality. Can you give us a sneak peak of where those experiences will appear and what use cases they will address?
SAP has investigated augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) for almost five years, and we developed a number of proof of concepts in co-innovation projects (see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTlTZFiQ_Nc).
Currently, we are working on several use cases in the areas of warehouse management, transportation management, service & maintenance, and manufacturing. In the area of service & maintenance, we are right now developing asset management solutions in custom development projects. Another use case delivers work instructions out of SAP S/4HANA Manufacturing for complex assembly processes to support the worker using AR.
The first AR/VR solutions and toolkits are planned to be shipped early 2021. While we started with use cases from the shop floor, we will bring these ideas also to the top floor, including dashboards in SAP Analytics Cloud, enhancements of existing web applications with WebXR, and many more.
What is SAPs progress in the SAP industry Cloud? We heard about a project with carmaker BMW.
SAP’s Industry Cloud strategy is differentiated from other companies in two ways. First, the single platform provides business process models that allow the industries to leverage best practices from others. This is critical in today’s business environment where market demands require that businesses shift quickly to meet consumer expectations. Our competitors’ siloed approach, where each industry has its own cloud, does not allow for speed and agility. Second, SAP’s Industry Cloud platform is open which means our partners can seamlessly integrate their industry-specific solutions into the platform. That is key to ensuring our customers get the solutions they need from both SAP and our partners deep industry expertise.
As part of our strategy, we are working closely to co-innovate with our customers and partners, examples include:
- Automotive Alliance – SAP is collaborating with BMW AG, Deutsche Telekom AG, Robert Bosch GmbH, Siemens AG and ZF Friedrichshafen AG on concepts for the development of an open, scalable network based on GAIA-X, for secure, cross-company and standardized information and data exchange in the automotive industry.
- ON Partnership – SAP is working with the energy supplier to build a new platform for its network operations that will improve processes for billing and exchanging information.
- Intelligent Trade Claims Management solution – Co-developed with MapleLeaf Foods, this native solution applies intelligent technologies like AI to automate and improve the trade claims process between consumer products companies and retailers.
- The Clinical Trial Supply Management (CTSM) solution – Co-developed with Roche, this solution gives organizations conducting clinical trials the end-to-end transparency needed for better collaboration and higher flexibility.
- The Vaccine Collaboration Hub – provides the critical network and technology capabilities required to effectively support large-scale vaccination programs and drug distribution, while creating the backbone to better mitigate future emergencies.
- The Corporate Real Estate solution with Honeywell, provides an analytics platform for real estate to combine financial and operational data and optimize building management.
What is SAPs progress in artificial intelligence? Where do you see the next use cases?
A key pillar of our AI strategy is to increase the infusion and use of AI within SAP applications. SAP’s broad product portfolio, potential data access, and deep line-of-business expertise gives SAP the maximum surface area to embed AI in our enterprise applications. In other words, SAP brings the value of AI to their customers by ubiquitously
infusing AI across business processes through AI embedded applications contributing to automation, monitoring, analysis, optimization, prediction/forecast and planning.
For example, we just released Business Entity Recognition, a pretrained and customizable AI Business Service that extracts key terms like invoice numbers from unstructured documents. This adds to our portfolio of capabilities like SAP Service Ticket Intelligence, available in SAP Service Cloud and exposed as an API for customers who use it for diverse needs like processing emails.
These can be used via REST APIs standalone as well as in combination with Conversational AI and/or Intelligent RPA.
We will also leverage state-of-the-art AI building blocks provided by our ecosystem in areas such as image and voice. We aim to work with existing data science tools to provide a common experience for SAP application users.
This gives all SAP customers the option to easily infuse AI into their business processes without having extensive data science know-how.
For example, standard embedded use cases range from predicting the conversion rates in the lead-to-cash process, thereby allowing salespeople to focus their efforts, through to automating accounts receivables by matching invoices to bank statements.
In 2021 new use cases will go live across our portfolio, such as career explorer in SAP SuccessFactors that recommends career options based on career paths of others. And SAP ByDesign will release the ability to classify and extract business documents from unstructured emails, proving that even the small- and midsized market can leverage AI from SAP.
Finally, we take seriously the trust our customers give SAP with their data and business processes. We not only go above and beyond regulations like GDPR to ensure personal data is kept private or removed during model training and inference, but we were also one of the first big companies to tackle AI Ethics. Together with our internal AI Ethics Steering Committee and external AI Ethics Advisory Panel, we published AI Ethics guidelines to steer our teams, and we contribute to the European Commission expert group to define ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI. In the race to develop AI models, SAP understands that trust is a key yet often overlooked asset.
Catch what you missed during SAP TechEd 2020: https://pages.sapteched.com/sap/sapteched2020/index