The impact of Sapphire on our partner strategy
“Sapphire provided immediate validation – to me and our partners – that our partner-first strategy is the right strategy,” Rafa Brugnini.
This year’s Sapphire events gave Rafa Brugnini, Chief Partner Officer of EMEA South, the opportunity to meet with partners and customers from across the region. Here are his top FIVE takeaways.
1. True Collaboration Between SAP & Partners:
“Sapphire 2023 was powerful for me for several reasons. First and foremost, having everyone that’s relevant to EMEA South, from customers and partners to key people from SAP, was fantastic.
Everything that we have been talking to our partners about for the last 12, 18 months, came through naturally in the keynotes, announcements, and beyond. It no longer feels like we’re forcing the partner-first approach: it is one, consistent, message that is really landing with our partners.
For the first time, I could meet with multiple partners across our three key areas of GSSPs, VARs, and Software, and was able to establish cross-connections between them. For example, I could connect a software partner with VARs that had market opportunities in that software partner’s specific solution, but who weren´t putting focus on it. Or I could connect experienced international VARs from both within and outside of our region with a VAR that is operating in a single country and lacking experience in specific solutions. Partners were talking together, positively, which is immediate validation that our Partner2Partner approach is working! I got to see it working, live, in front of me.
2. Products & Offers that Partners Are Bought Into:
The second thing that struck me was the excitement among our partners about the announcements that were made during Sapphire, and that what we’ve been saying we were going to do we have done, we have it, what we´ve been pushing our partners to invest in, it´s available! We now have tangible products and offers to take to partners and to market, all of which have an excellent fit with the needs of our customers today.
With us, partners are driving transformation with their customers via S/4HANA public cloud, with the Business Technology Platform, with the move to RISE – any doubts that may have been there are gone. Of course, partners want to see reference cases, numbers, or advice and guidance on how to accelerate, but they are fully committed and open to talking to us about it. There was a lot of conversation around how they are re-organising their businesses, converting their teams, and hiring new people to operate fully in the cloud world, becoming more agile, and using IP as the key differentiator in sales and delivery.
3. Capacity & IP:
Capacity was my third big takeaway. There is now a very clear link between capacity and the development of IP. Partners are looking at how they can develop IP themselves and make it available quickly; they’re questioning which of the main business processes have the greatest improvement opportunity that they can get behind, and how they and their customers can benefit from S/4 migration.
Partners are seeing how, with the Business Technology Platform [BTP], you can structure a new workflow that maps an end-to-end, company-wide, business process across SAP and non-SAP solutions. They’re consulting in an agile way with the help of solutions like Signavio. It’s a completely different ball game. We had lots of discussions on how the partners themselves can deliver more projects in the cloud than in the on-prem world, which led us to the clean core. If you keep the core clean, SAP will deliver innovation like AI, and process automation and BTP is fundamental to delivering those extensions that SAP has been shouting about. SAP is not going to cover all industries.
We need partners to develop and extend solutions in a certain way, and the answer is BTP. There is a great opportunity here for partners to grab a bigger portion of a project using their own IP, or IP developed by other partners or IP on the SAP Store. Partners are ready, willing, and able to build on BTP. However, they have high expectations: they are looking to SAP to promote that IP with our Account Executives, industry experts, line of business specialists, and other partners.
5. Customer Lifetime Value:
Finally, we come on to Customer Lifetime Value. I had lots of conversations around this. This is an opportunity for partners to position themselves as their customer’s guardian angel across the entire lifetime of the solutions they deliver. They can ensure consumption is maximised, so that customers remain with that partner and, consequently, with us.
I would like to thank our partners that made Sapphire possible with their sponsorship; it simply couldn’t happen without our partners and their customers. It was a fantastic few days spent sharing the latest news from SAP with our partners, having detailed discussions, and making actionable plans with them to drive success over the next 12 months. It was an honour to be there and I’m genuinely excited to see how those plans play out.”
In case you missed it, here are all the key announcements from Sapphire 2023
In Q3 2023, look out for a series of go-lives on the S/4HANA cloud.