SAP’s Ambition to Redefine Enterprise Software and Future-Proof Business

Highlights from the SAP Sapphire 2023 virtual event.

At this year’s Sapphire 2023, SAP went all-in with artificial intelligence and its Business AI app. This tool is to play a central role in enterprise automation, process insights and AI-powered business decision-making.

SAP says the tool will go beyond traditional task automation. For instance, SAP Business AI already supports SAP Integration Suite (process integration), SAP Signavio (business insights), SAP Build (low code applications and extensions) and more.

Here are my key takeaways from the SAP Sapphire 2023.

According to SAP, “future-proofing is a way of operating.” Scott Russell, SAP Executive Board Member, Customer Success, highlighted the power of learning from others, confidently stating that “every journey is different, every path is […] unique, but the destination with SAP is secure.” (Source: SAP.)

According to SAP, “future-proofing is a way of operating.” Scott Russell, SAP Executive Board Member, Customer Success, highlighted the power of learning from others, confidently stating that “every journey is different, every path is […] unique, but the destination with SAP is secure.” (Source: SAP.)

High Level Messaging from SAP Sapphire 2023

Common themes throughout the conference keynotes included “acceleration,” “sustainability,” “automation,” “AI” and “resilience”. Furthermore, SAP focused intensively on new services, with tailored-to-fit next-gen ERP, cloud transition, business process transformation, data analytics, engaging employee and customer experiences.

Christian Klein, CEO and member of the SAP Executive Board, highlighted that OEMs must look “beyond technical lift and shift to the cloud,” He added they should also adopt best practice processes and standards to move towards new business model adoption and “clean core” transition using SAP BTP (Business Technology Platform).

In addition, JG Chirapurath, chief marketing & solutions officer for SAP Business Technology Platform, explained that “SAP BTP is a business-oriented platform that brings together all apps and processes enabled by these apps.”

Klein highlighted the five-year partnership between SAP and Google, discussing with Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud, about “how customers can build an end-to-end data cloud, and utilize […] analytics capabilities, advanced AI tools and large language models to find new insights from their data.” (Image: Thomas Kurian, Twitter.)

Klein highlighted the five-year partnership between SAP and Google, discussing with Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud, about “how customers can build an end-to-end data cloud, and utilize […] analytics capabilities, advanced AI tools and large language models to find new insights from their data.” (Image: Thomas Kurian, Twitter.)

From Sustainability to AI-based Automation

Sustainability was another big topic at the event. According to SAP, “we consume 100 billion tons of materials each year and recycle less than 10 percent of it.” SAP proposes a “system response” to this challenge: organizations need a real- or near real-time understanding of their environmental impact with centralized compliance reporting, such as monitoring the use of more sustainable plastics. Achieving circular economy implies a closed-loop design to production and embedded supply chain traceability monitoring. For instance, this would include achieving extended producer responsibility (EPR) targets.

Klein promoted the shift towards standardized business processes and a consistent data model sitting on BTP; furthermore, he announced SAP Datasphere to manage end-to-end enterprise data layout, beyond SAP data. (Image: Christian Klein, LinkedIn.)

Klein promoted the shift towards standardized business processes and a consistent data model sitting on BTP; furthermore, he announced SAP Datasphere to manage end-to-end enterprise data layout, beyond SAP data. (Image: Christian Klein, LinkedIn.)

Another interesting statement from SAP is about the fact that “sustainability isn’t just about going green […] People—like the environment—are affected by business decisions.” Effective decision-making is to be coupled with effective enterprise automation to reduce manual operations, so that users can focus on value-added work. Partnering with Aleph Alpha, IBM, Microsoft and others, SAP defined itself as “an AI company”—bringing automation to the next level with pre-built AI-embedded RPAs and analytics to identify process bottlenecks, access trends and fix data quality gaps.

Building the Intelligent Enterprise

According to SAP, generative AI, cloud and “clean core” are central to future-proofing organizations. With AI comes new opportunities through automation simplification, improved productivity, process efficiency and improved data quality. It can also help create a more intuitive user experience and sustainable apps which can be built by citizen developers using low-code or no-code tools. Resilience is also about continuous digital transformation and migrating away from legacy process hindrance and technology inertia from static customization and integration.

Process standardization and aligned business models was another recurring theme from the conference. This message built on the “clean core” narrative to maintain upgradability, drive scalability and enable non-invasive extensions. To that end, SAP re-enforced its communication around two SaaS-enabled services lines, aiming to make digital transformation and adoption easier:

  • RISE with SAP is meant to help existing customers go beyond costly technical upgrades, leveraging natively integrated solution elements through BTP as the new data hub for cross-functional automation and wider business network integration.
  • GROW with SAP is meant to accelerate adoption for new or expanding customers with pre-build scalable industry-based best practice processes that are quickly accessible on ready-to-run cloud ERP.

The marketing messages are well articulated, with SAP boldly promising significant business benefits to organizations willing to relinquish part of their mission-critical operations to a SaaS ecosystem. For instance, some value opportunities and improvements, as quoted from the RISE with SAP whitepaper titled Driving Business Innovation Together, include:

  • 10 percent–15 percent improvement in process efficiency.
  • 40 percent–60 percent reduction in business process mapping and analysis cost.
  • 65 percent–75 percent reduction in business process management (BPM) subscription and maintenance cost.
  • 75 percent –85 percent reduction in BPM training cost.
  • 50 percent –80 percent in IT cost to manage customizations.
  • 50 percent in application management efforts.
  • 15 percent in time spent on IT maintenance.

If this recounting of events piqued your interests and you missed the Sapphire 2023, you can still catch-up with on-demand recordings.