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SAP CEO Bill McDermott Kicks Off SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 by Announcing SAP C/4HANA

by Scott Priest, Editorial Director

June 5, 2018

SAP CEO Bill McDermott kicked off his SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 keynote discussing a simple, yet significant concept: The biggest problems the world faces also represent the biggest opportunities. Whether it’s feeding a growing population, managing a changing environment, or eliminating bias in the workforce, McDermott stated that these problems are best solved by businesses that are focused first and foremost on their customers.

This is the motivation behind SAP C/4HANA, SAP’s customer-focused CRM platform, which is seeking to upend an industry that McDermott said has been too wrapped up in treating customers like sales opportunities. “We have moved from a 360-degree view of sales automation to a 360-degree view of the customer,” said McDermott in announcing the suite, which comprises five SAP cloud applications, including technology acquired from Gigya, Hybris, and CallidusCloud, and is based on established SAP technologies such as SAP HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP Leonardo.

The company’s renewed focus on CRM stems from conversations that McDermott himself has been having with C-level executives the world over. “We are all engaged in a customer-driven revolution,” said McDermott. To keep up with this revolution, leaders want a single view of the customer — but very few have it. SAP plans to provide just that with SAP C/4HANA, which is built around the concept of the in-memory power of SAP HANA driving data in real time throughout the organization and into an “intelligent suite” in SAP S/4HANA, and then integrating that data into what the company is calling its fourth-generation customer experience suite.

Demos of SAP C/4HANA showed real-time examples of connecting the demand chain and supply chain, analyzing customer data, and addressing machine repair with predictive maintenance. One notable technology shown was SAP Inscribe, which took commands for reporting and analysis via digital notetaking on a tablet, adjusting on the fly depending on the user’s wishes for data.

SAP positioned itself as the only company prepared to take on the challenge of developing a trusted single view of the customer. Its ERP capabilities allow it to touch 77% of the world’s transactions, generating $19 trillion in customer business. And with its acquisitions and commitment to the cloud, plus its investment in emerging intelligent technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, SAP indicated that the whole would represent something greater than the sum of the parts. 

These new intelligent technologies earned considerable focus from McDermott, who relayed a conversation he had with Garry Kasparov, famous for having taken on machines in high-level chess play. While much is made of a tension caused among humans when considering how machines will upend and transform the workforce, Kasparov posed an interesting question to McDermott: Instead of thinking about machines as competitors, what if they were instead viewed as collaborators — in other words, how might his chess matches have changed if he was able to play with the machines rather than against them?

In McDermott’s estimation, this carries over to business. Rather than machines taking the place of humans and devastating the economy, SAP’s research indicates that artificial intelligence and related technologies should contribute $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. “Don’t let anxiety detract from opportunity,” said McDermott. From SAP’s perspective, what is driving that opportunity — and yielding significant return — is the embedding of SAP Leonardo technologies, powered by the in-memory data crunching of SAP HANA, into ERP business processes. 

Given the emphasis on customer satisfaction, it’s no surprise that SAP’s own customers were front and center. Videos and interviews involving doTERRA and ATB Financial helped tell SAP’s story of the intelligent suite empowering improved customer satisfaction. (For more information, visit SAPinsider’s case studies on doTERRA and ATB Financial.) And comments from Bernd Leukert, SAP’s head of products and innovation, and Rob Enslin, the president of SAP’s cloud business group, who spent time on stage demoing some of the key features of SAP C/4HANA, underscored that many of the company’s efforts are driven by its desire to help customers succeed. 

“Our greatest validation is our customers’ success,” said McDermott.  


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