Hasso Plattner, SAP Co-Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, kicked off the second day of SAPPHIRE NOW with a keynote presentation on the meaning of the Intelligent Enterprise. “The Intelligent Enterprise is not a marketing story thriving on buzzwords,” Plattner cautioned. “It’s a logical consequence of what is possible today using modern technology and enterprise applications.”
It is the consequence, Plattner outlined, of SAP HANA helping organizations move beyond performance limitations and SAP S/4HANA delivering a digital core that enables the core ingredients of the Intelligent Enterprise: a digital-age user experience (UX), enhanced automation, and next-generation digital processes. “We are out of the woods with regards to performance [where we can now] achieve a completely different flexibility,” Plattner said. “We are better prepared to react to changes, and changes are about to come.”
But to entice customers to buy into SAP’s strategic direction for unprecedented flexibility and agility in the cloud as an intelligent enterprise, SAP first had to make some internal changes to streamline a history of heterogeneous systems. These internal changes included aligning lines of business and the heads of various business units, with internal branding and unification under SAP C/4HANA as one of the foundational efforts of what it means to be an Intelligent Enterprise. In short, this means internal integration plans focused on simplifying everything for the customer. “SAP has to be as agile as a start-up. If we want to be intelligent, we have to react quickly,” Plattner explained.
An internal rebranding and a clear product roadmap, Plattner said, was vital to easing customer confusion and helping customers plot their own journey to enterprise intelligence. More and more, Plattner said, this means an SAP S/4HANA Cloud deployment, as it is no longer sustainable to wait for release updates because of the rapidly shrinking innovation cycle. A digital core with SAP S/4HANA allows for the transformation of data on the fly, a key ingredient for connecting to emerging technologies such as machine learning and AI, which are also important components for what it means to become an Intelligent Enterprise. This also means that organizations must become accustomed to enhancing applications without touching the application — that is, building no-touch extensions with SAP Cloud Platform. “In the future, we don’t want to move data between applications. We want to access data at its origin,” Plattner said. “This is a simplification; no data transport means less data management and most importantly no risk.”
Plattner highlighted many of the capabilities brought by simplified data management with the SAP Data Management suite, such as text/search, spatial/graph, data anonymization, and data pipelines. These capabilities, in turn, can result in a digital-age UX and a “hands-free ERP,” enhanced automation assessed at perhaps a 50% increase over the next three years, and next-generation processes that embed technologies such as machine learning that can learn from past actions of human participants in a system.
SAP CTO Bjoern Goerke joined Plattner to discuss how SAP Cloud Platform is the optimal extension platform for any SAP application and a key component of the intelligent enterprise, serving as a conduit to achieving greater speed and precision — speed not just in terms of execution, but in terms of applying changes to rapidly changing market demands.
Goerke also made several announcements concerning SAP Cloud Platform: It is now generally available on Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, a private edition in partnership with IBM and slated for highly regulated industries is now in development, and a new commercial model — the SAP Cloud Platform commercial agreement — allows consumption-based usage and pricing on a single contract.
Mala Anand, President and EVP of SAP Leonardo and Data & Analytics at SAP, helped close the keynote with an update on SAP Leonardo, showcasing several customers who have created better outcomes and reaped unprecedented value from data by embracing the emerging systems of intelligence. “We’ve had an incredible first year with SAP Leonardo,” Anand said. She highlighted the three ways a customer can consume SAP Leonardo: embedded intelligence from the latest releases of SAP’s flagship products, through industry innovation kits for faster innovation than even the latest releases can provide, and through open innovation.
The message from the Day 2 keynote was clear: Spurred by SAP S/4HANA and the digital core in the cloud, innovation is now only limited by imagination. With SAP, any organization that wishes to become a truly Intelligent Enterprise has all the tools it needs at its disposal.