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SAPPHIRE NOW Spotlight: Become a Leader in the Digital Economy

SAP’s Bernd Leukert Shares the Keynote Stage with Colleagues and Customers -- Including Walmart’s CIO -- to Demonstrate the Power of SAP HANA

by Ken Murphy, Editorial Director

May 6, 2015

ORLANDO – Mixing in some announcements with demos and customer success stories, SAP Executive Board member Bernd Leukert helped crystalize SAP’s messaging around SAP S/4HANA in his keynote address before a crowd of about 20,000 attendees during the second day of SAPPHIRE NOW at the Orange County Convention Center.

Leukert focused on the three things he said organizations should do to become leaders in the digital economy, with making a transition to SAP S/4HANA at the top of the list. The original premise of an ERP system, Leukert said, was to be the single source of truth for an organization in terms of an electronic filing system for documentation purposes. SAP S/4HANA, he said, allows for organizations to take that next step to re-invent the business, adding value to software so a business can focus not just on selling products, but on selling outcomes. With this, Leukert said, organizations can satisfy a new kind of customer in the digital economy. “It is make or break,” said Leukert, who shared an analogy he heard a customer make comparing SAP S/4HANA to an MRI. “It allows your business access to any part of the company,” he said, which is what a company needs for reinvention.

  Bernd SAPPHIRE NOW    

“It is make or break,” said Leukert, who shared an analogy he heard a customer make comparing SAP S/4HANA to an MRI. “It allows your business access to any part of the company,” he said, which is what a company needs for reinvention. 


The other components of becoming a leader in the digital era, according to Leukert, are embracing the digital economy and becoming part of a connected network. Discussing the transition to SAP S/4HANA, Leukert outlined the steps and promised to support existing data models in the interim. While noting that customizations will continue to run with an upgrade, Leukert advised starting fresh, likening it to discarding the junk in your basement or garage when moving to a new house. If you’re not using your customizations, get rid of them, he said — just as SAP did when it created a new programming model for SAP S/4HANA in eliminating the functional redundancies that had been built into SAP ERP over the years.
With this, Leukert turned to a discussion on why SAP HANA Cloud Platform is the default platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for best enabling the transformative possibilities with SAP S/4HANA, especially for capitalizing on the approaching explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) in the enterprise. “Nothing is missing… it has everything you need,” Leukert said of what he called the most comprehensive and open PaaS on the market today, already with nearly 1,000 innovative applications available on the SAP Store built on SAP HANA Cloud Platform that are helping companies innovate. He highlighted one such app from EY that targets fraud prevention as having enormous real-world impact to businesses, many of which are losing up to 5% of revenue to fraud.

A demo of CenterPoint Energy’s use of SAP HANA Cloud Platform and IoT displayed how the Texas energy company is currently using 100,000 sensors in the field for an unprecedented granular and detailed view of the customers it serves. Leukert used this example by way of describing how SAP HANA Cloud Platform will be the “big data platform” for SAP moving forward.

big data slide SAPPHIRE NOW

Walmart CIO Karenann Terrell and SAP Executive Board member Robert Enslin joined Leukert on stage to discuss Walmart — which Tuesday night was awarded the HANA Innovation Award for its Data Café, the winner in the Technical Trailblazer — Business Application category. Terrell’s appearance lit up the #SAPPHIRENOW Twitter feed as long-time attendees declared it the best customer case study they’ve seen, particularly as Walmart has been notoriously tight-lipped about its technological platforms.

Today, however, Terrell was more than willing to share how the retailer is innovating in a partnership with SAP. “Digitization is not just a buzzword,” Terrell said, stating that any company not thinking about speed and how it can lead to re-imagining the business will soon be disrupted. “SAP HANA as we looked at it looked well and better … the success that we’ve had with HANA in putting [our] data structure together … is transformational for our overall business.” Terrell closed by saying that traditional technology at Walmart was essentially used primarily to “float the business.” Yet with the innovations she sees in store with SAP S/4HANA, she said that it is clear that “innovation doesn’t rest in the back office.” A concept that brought nearly 20,000 attendees out of their offices this week to see how they can do the same.

Watch the full keynote here:

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