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In his keynote kicking off SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference, Christian Klein, CEO, COO, and member of the Executive Board at SAP, highlighted the need for companies to be agile and resilient—two words that were given a lot of airtime throughout the online conference. This notion trickled down throughout the rest of the SAPPHIRE NOW Reimagined keynotes and sessions.

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, SAP unveiled new innovations to its products that will help customers carry on through any unplanned incident, even the massive black swan event we are all experiencing. The rest of the conference focused on how the newest innovations in SAP's solutions aid customers and help them run more resilient enterprises.

“The promise of SAP’s intelligent enterprise is to provide you with the required agility and resiliency needed to give you confidence in uncertain times,” said Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE for SAP product engineering during his keynote address.

How SAP Reimagined SAPPHIRE NOW for 2020

This year was a first for SAPPHIRE NOW, with attendees tuning in digitally instead of convening in Orlando. SAP made COVID-19 a key talking point throughout the conference, assuring attendees that it understands the difficulties they are facing. In a session with journalists, Klein discussed how more than 90% of SAP’s workforce is currently working from home and how important SAP sees its responsibility to keep employees safe and equipped to do their job. During his keynote focused on the SAP Intelligent Enterprise, Luka Mucic, CFO and SAP Executive Board Member, discussed how the SAP staff is being asked to adopt “an agile mindset and culture.”

Klein also discussed how SAP is aware of the importance that the current economic pressures have placed on the company’s solutions, and the impact its own customers have on global business.

“As many industries are suffering, we see that some of our solutions are more relevant than others,” he said. “When you talk about supply chain and e-commerce, the good thing is that, oftentimes, SAP software is at the center of these needs.”

Many of the conference’s keynotes and sessions were geared toward how the innovations to SAP’s platform can help customers stay resilient during the current economic conditions and beyond.

Expanding the SAP Business Technology Platform

Over the course of the week of SAPPHIRE NOW Reimagined, the software company announced a few key upgrades to its portfolio of solutions. One of the most wide-reaching were the innovations to the SAP Business Technology Platform.

“The Business Technology Platform is SAP’s common technology foundation,” said Juergen Mueller, CTO of SAP and a member of the Executive Board. “It ensures that all applications are easy-to-use and perfectly integrated.”

The platform includes multiple SAP solutions and provides the bedrock to run the company’s Intelligent Enterprise. At the center of these new additions are more direct workflows to allow an easier—and faster—transition of critical data from SAP applications and solutions to other SAP and non-SAP solutions across an organization. Additionally, artificial intelligence capabilities have been embedded into the platform, allowing customers to make sense of their data to drive business decisions. Other key innovations include the new release of SAP HANA 2.0 SPS 05, further integrations of SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, and an updated version of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud focused on customers in the retail industry.

"Many customers I have spoken with have expressed the need for agility and quick time to value, made even more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mueller said. “To achieve both, technology becomes even more important, and SAP can help meet those challenges. We’ve added significant enhancements to every major component of our Business Technology Platform to help customers across all industries overcome obstacles stemming from the ubiquity of data, complexity of IT, and business volatility.”

People and the Intelligent Enterprise

The idea of SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise is nothing new. Yet, during this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW, the concept took a slightly different angle. During his keynote address, Klein discussed what the Intelligent Enterprise means to SAP and how the company is pursuing this notion through its products. Later in the week, Mucic drilled down to what this concept means for people, particularly SAP employees.

“The Intelligent Enterprise has to equip people with the right processes, tools, and insights to deliver value to our customers,” said Mucic in his keynote address. “Especially in times of crisis, we have a responsibility to sustain our colleagues’ work, and to ensure that not only their physical health is fine…but also their mental health.”

Through his keynote, Mucic highlighted that people are the key to a company’s financial success—a striking and encouraging note to hear from a CFO in these times—and it is vital to empower employees with resilient solutions. A key way to do that with the help of the Intelligent Enterprise is to create an end-to-end business environment where data and business processes are connected. Moving forward, SAP will likely continue to evolve this concept, but it will likely focus on bringing value to people and organizations in the near term.

“Intelligent Enterprise helps us strike a balance between our own needs in terms of running a profitable business and helping our customers, where possible, by keeping up our sustainability efforts,” Mucic said.

Measure Sustainability with Climate 21 

In the quest to help companies sustainably conduct their business, SAP unveiled a new program during the conference: Climate 21

“We are convinced that sustainability represents a clear competitive advantage and a financial and economic benefit,” Saueressig said.

The solution, which was introduced during Saueressig’s keynote address, represents a new strategic initiative for SAP. Working with partners, the software company will provide embedded sustainability metrics across its portfolio. The goal is to help customers map their carbon footprints, allowing them to reduce those footprints to achieve environmental and economic advantages.

The premiere solution to come out of Climate 21 is SAP Product Carbon Footprint Analytics. The application leverages SAP S/4HANA data to help users calculate their carbon footprint based on their greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can calculate where they stand compared with their competitors to understand which of their products produce the most emissions.

“Climate 21 is the embodiment of the Intelligent Enterprise because it spreads across the end-to-end business process throughout our entire portfolio,” said Saueressig.

SAP Industry 4.Now 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chains all over the world have struggled with the massive disruption. During the conference, SAP announced new additions to its solutions associated with Industry 4.0—which it has branded as Industry 4.Now. Originally conceived to be adapted to manufacturing, this initiative applies to supply chains and procurement to strengthen these processes.

“This is about connecting process automation and manufacturing with enterprise data,” said Bernd Brandl, senior vice president and global head of DSC solution sales at SAP. “You can understand exactly what your customer needs to optimize processes and upgrade supply chain planning.”

As part of Industry 4.Now, SAP will begin embedding production solutions with automation, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence to provide real-time insights into business processes. There are now more than 100 innovations available across SAP’s supply chain solution. This work will continue as SAP partners continue adding to these solutions.

“This will only become a reality if we do this together,” Saueressig said.

The entirety of SAPPHIRE NOW—including keynotes and breakout sessions—is available on-demand. Be sure to hear from the company’s leaders about the newest innovations and announcements.

Register today for ASUGFORWARD, taking place on June 22–25, to learn, exchange ideas, and gain information about your SAP investment that you can put into practice immediately.  

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