The Truth is in the Eye of the Beholder: A Wrap-Up of Sapphire Now 2017

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By now, you must have sufficiently recovered from jetlag and the excitement and announcements of Sapphire NOW 2017.

So this is perhaps a good time to continue reading this blog.

It was quite exciting and actually not completely surprising what we experienced at Sapphire. I reached out to some of my valued colleagues to get their insights, as well as to prevent being completely biased in my predictions (highlighted in my previous blog posts).

I was fortunate to receive some great insights from Anne-Laure Thieullent, Global Head of Manufacturing, Automotive and Life Sciences, Insights & Data; Alex Bulat, Head of HANA Cloud Platform offerings in Capgemini Europe; and Kai-Oliver Schaefer, Head of Insights & Data, Capgemini Germany.

SAP considers S/4HANA done

This was the first thing that struck me, and as Alex stated: S/4HANA is, in the eyes of SAP, a finished product; or in the words of Hasso Plattner: it is done! In my opinion there are still a lot of gaps but SAP promises that they will keep working with customers to fix these gaps.

Earlier this week, I discussed this with a client who was also at Sapphire; and he stated that while SAP may consider it done, most of their client base is still wondering how to sell internally. From a concept point of view, I totally relate to Hasso’s comment, but the question is indeed whether the product is finished or the market has totally adapted to it. To Adapt or not adapt, that is the big S/4HANA question.

SAP Leonardo

The bold move, of course was embarking on the Digital Journey, with Leonardo as the showstopper. This changes the perspective, or as Anne-Laure puts it: “SAP is pivoting hard from process to insights. In Hasso Plattner’s keynote, the central theme was business transformation enabled by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, and the dawn of the Intelligent Enterprise. This is just the start of the journey for SAP, but the vision is clear that with SAP Leonardo, intelligence will become pervasive in every part of the organization, changing the experience of end customers, changing how these organizations run their operations.”

Kai-Oliver sees a clear strategic direction on how they make this move: “SAP is presenting themselves as masters of the infinity loop between running and winning business. It looks like they will go half-in for Leonardo to win, while S/4 stays the other half—as a stronghold for run. While S/4 is nicely underpinned with SAP modules, the Leonardo part was presented in a more generic way. Bill McDermott spoke in his key note relentlessly about Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, IoT and Blockchain. Mala Anand, President—Leonardo at SAP, was the first SAP employee Bill welcomed on stage and they both stated that SAP will drive digital innovation starting from design thinking to reimagine business models with the ‘biggest move since HANA’.”

This raises the question of whether this “move” will have the same rate of adoption as S/4HANA. If so, it will become a digital innovation platform where, as Alex describes it; “the sky is the limit, but moon shots are the standard.”

And this brings us to the platform game as described in my earlier posts. As Alex puts it, “we are now really moving into a new era of Systems! The core is stripped done to finance and logistics and all the other new exciting things can be built in a layer to interact seamlessly with this core. So in terms of waves, first there were multiple systems and a lot of interfaces, then during the late 80s/90s, the consolidation of systems began to move all these laggards into one, and now it seems we are again moving into multiple systems. Consolidation is not the preferred option anymore.”

I would rather say “multiple services” rather than systems. But nonetheless indeed extremely exciting. I truly hope SAP can convince their clients to join them on this journey. Because as Kai-Oliver states: “We know SAP is not always a first mover, but a strong mover. With the narrative of SAP Leonardo they have created a compelling umbrella which has to come alive and materialize.”

I hope you had a great time and gained new insights.

So what’s the next step? Translate these insights into value for your organizations. Get in touch with us to know how.

Make sure you click on this link to view all my previous blog posts, podcast from SAPPHIRE NOW and many of the client presentations:

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