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SAP TechEd Keynote Boldly Tackles 3 Tenets of Digital Transformation

by Ken Murphy, Senior Features Editor

September 27, 2017

In his SAP TechEd keynote Tuesday morning, Bjorn Goerke, SAP Chief Technology Officer and President, SAP Cloud Platform, fully embraced a Star Trek theme to explain the promise of digital transformation before an announced crowd of 6,000 at the Venetian-Palazzo. With the keynote stage transformed into the bridge of the USS Enterprise, several keynote executives and Goerke himself played the roles of iconic Star Trek characters to demo new SAP innovations to illustrate what Goerke said are the three major tenets of digital transformation: truth, agility, and a unique user experience.

For the non-Trekkie crowd, Goerke — who played the role of Captain Kirk — boiled down the challenge of transforming digitally to the Kobayashi Maru challenge in Star Trek, where participants are placed in what appears to be a no-win situation with no way out and challenged to find a solution. This is akin to a digital transformation, according to Goerke, because the enterprise may not know where to start, how to extract value, or which technologies will best lend themselves to an innovative culture and framework to compete in the digital age.

Goerke painted this backdrop to introduce SAP S/4HANA, the fastest-growing product in SAP history now with 1,000 live customers, as having brought “warp speed” to the core of the business. But, he said, SAP had to “boldly go beyond” SAP S/4HANA to bring ERP, IoT, and the larger world of business networks together in an integrated innovation platform. Enter SAP Leonardo.

Truth, Agility, User Experience

Expanding on truth as one of the core tenets of a digital transformation, the Star Trek crew demoed how SAP Data Hub forms a consistent, trustworthy data foundation that eliminates the need for an organization to “fly blind” as a single solution for data sharing across the enterprise. Whereas before SAP HANA, companies could only dream of OTLP and OLAP coming together in one system, Goerke said, SAP Data Hub shows the disruptive power of SAP HANA in making a journey to the autonomous enterprise. By bringing big data clusters and enterprise data together through the massively distributed in-memory processing power of SAP Vora, companies achieve that single source of trustworthy data.

Agility was demonstrated through SAP Cloud Platform as the second core of a digital transformation. The big announcement with SAP Cloud Platform as an agile platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is that it can now be run on Google Cloud Platform as a public beta, showcasing what Goerke claimed is SAP’s unique, multi-cloud strategy for data co-location. SAP’s Jana Richter, playing the role of Spock — fake pointy ears and all — ran through a demo to highlight the flexibility that comes with essentially a choice of PaaS by running SAP Cloud Platform on top of Google Cloud Platform.

Goerke’s other big cloud announcements were SAP’s joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and that ABAP will be the next environment to be added to SAP Cloud Platform. The Star Trek theme continued throughout the 75-minute keynote with a blockchain demo from Sindhu Gangadharan, playing the role of Scotty and Vanessa Micelli-Schmidt playing the role of Nyota Uhura demonstrating SAP Co-Pilot to demonstrate a human-centric approach to user experience, the third and final core of a digital transformation. The SAP CoPilot demo brought a moment of levity to the session when SAP CoPilot’s voice recognition engine had trouble with Uhura’s accent, mistaking “order” for “auto.” Intentional or not, the digital assistant seemed to recognize that “build an auto” wasn’t a viable request, and followed it up with “Can you tell me the business reason” for the request, which drew a burst of laughter.

With his Star Trek colleagues arrayed behind him on the deck of the USS Enterprise, Goerke brought everything together by introducing SAP Leonardo as the systematic approach to innovation that provides the innovation experience an enterprise needs to compete on the digital stage. And, to help organizations that plan to launch a digital initiative to escape the “no-win” scenario made famous in the Kobayashi Maru challenge, Goerke explained how to get started: with a design thinking co-innovation workshop that will deliver a working prototype that can be used to secure business and executive buy-in attached to a specific business case, and a solution blueprint to solve that unique business challenge.

If it wasn’t apparent after the first hour of the keynote, Goerke wrapped up by explaining that Captain Kirk was his childhood hero, and hours and hours of Star Trek re-runs helped drill in him the concept that team effort and diverse viewpoints were key attributes on the bridge of the USS Enterprise that helped the crew face challenges as they explored the unknown. In 2010, Goerke said, SAP set a bold company vision to help companies run better and improve people’s lives, and SAP Leonardo and all that it delivers is the next step for SAP to fulfill that vision. 

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