Foreword & Board exchanges with Christian Klein.
by Gianmaria Perancin, Chairman SUGEN CLT, Chairman Utilisateurs SAP Francophones (USF)
Finally, back in presence !!!
We weren’t only voices and faces on Microsoft Teams meetings anymore, nor sitting on our chairs, in our room at home or at the office, trying to establish a connection with someone sitting somewhere in another room and part of the world… and generally very far from us.
On the contrary we were back TOGETHER, AGAIN. And FINALLY.
Last meeting under such conditions takes us back to 2019, three years ago. In the meantime SUGEN has worked, as all of you know, and we have done a lot of work. But clearly, the fact that we were able to share the same physical space together… well, it was a source of a strong and needed regeneration.
This F2F was also very particular for the density of the exchange we had with SAP executives.
Questions and feedbacks were open and direct, but also more intensive than in the past. Probably, the set-up of the meetings – all sitting around the speakers, and not at the usual table in a formal meeting room – allowed all the people, both on SUGEN and SAP side, to feel at ease during the extremely constructive interactions we had. This is why very likely, the future SUGEN F2F will be hosted again at the AppHaus : to keep this atmosphere of co-construction between SUGEN and SAP, on the various topics we will have to discuss in the future.
One outcome we could clearly be proud of is our capacity to have bidirectional exchanges between SUGEN and SAP
: there is no descending information, but instead intensive exchanges with all the participants.
SAP clearly delivers value to SUGEN, by providing contents and information about roadmaps and services. SUGEN delivers clear value to SAP, through the engaged presence, feedbacks and influence. And this emerges from the different articles that compose this edition of the DIGEST.
Enjoy reading !!
SUGEN Group Picture November 2022
Executive Exchange on SAP’s Corporate Strategy – December 5
In the beginning of his session, Chief Strategy Officer at SAP SE Sebastian Steinhäuser described three pillars of SAP’s strategic direction:
1. Business agility,
2. Supply Chain resilience, and
3. Sustainability outcomes.
The aim is to create customer value as well as to help customers to quickly adapt to an ever-changing environment, as the world is going through a period of unprecedented volatility. Businesses are craving answers and solutions at a time when making the right call is more important than ever. The consequences are big. The time is now. Executing change in an agile fashion will become a competitive advantage int he future.
Sebastian described RISE with SAP as a Business Transformation offering with the idea to help customers in a totally different engagement model including the improvement of business processes. With the ERP at the core, the SAP Business Technology Platform helps to provide an integrated value proposition. It has become the core foundational layer of all applications, enabling integration as well as extensions. Customers and partners are providing very positive feedback, saying there is a great advantage in leveraging the SAP BTP.
Sebastian also shared his vision about ecosystem partnerships and outlined the approach to focus on areas where SAP is strong, while complementing other areas wit a strong partner ecosystem.
In the lines of business, a growth above market average can be observed, as the focus there is lying on the core value propositions of the different solutions. Business Networks such as Taulia for financials are more and more being established and could create significant and unique value to SAP users. Besides all positive aspects, he also mentioned improvement potentials such as a more ecosystem-centric and a morecustomer-value-oriented approach, as well as more flexible commercial models. The value should be derived by an integrated portfolio with solutions including intelligence inside, that can be implemented easily. The long-term aspiration is to sell business processes solving concrete business challenges instead of just selling solutions.
Supply Chain resilience:
As another strategic pillar, Supply Chain resilience means to react with agility to disruptions. An integrated suite across planning, supply chain and procurement with real-time insights and sharing of data across value chains, enables this. Despite the global recession, organizations are still looking into getting a better ESG(Environmental, Social, Governance) data foundation in place to improve the measurement.
As the third strategic theme, Sebastian considers that is not about “why” anymore,but rather about “how” to tackle the challenges. SAP is aiming to embed sustainability principles through the entire business in the end-to-end processes, leading to higher quality data and being able to fulfill increasing reporting requirements. Sebastian considers also that SAP is in a unique position, with 80-90% of the world’s transactions touching SAP systems.
In the discussion, Sebastian outlined that the innovation efforts focus on continuous improvement of the existing solutions. Helping customers harness the full power and utilize all functionalities of their applications after a new update is the goal.
In the on-premise times major announcements of enhancements and new solutions are no longer the standard in the cloud world. There we will rather see functionality and enhancements continuously delivered.
With regards to the SAP Business Technology Platform, Sebastian emphasized in the discussion that customers as well as partners have the opportunity to build solutions themselves. Especially an increased creation of industry-specific solutions by partners on the SAP Business Technology Platform can be observed. This serves the ‘clean core’concept, which says that all modifications and extensions should be moved outside the core ERP.
SAP Build is complementing and extending it, by enabling citizen developers to build solutions on the SAP BTP.
Another discussion topic was the lack of skills and resources in the SAP ecosystem.While the large system integrators are investing significantly, this is not always the case for smaller, more regional partners.
Finally, regarding the end of maintenance for ECC6 in 2027 with the option to extend it until 2030, this deadline will be kept.
User Groups are communities built on relationships and the trust we form with ourmembers and partners. Many of our members are still languishing in post-covid isolation and only engaging with colleagues, partners and customers via Teams or Zoom.
UKISUG (UK & Ireland) have seen a slow burn in getting their members back into the face to face environment through 2022. After managing to deliver a some what successful 2021 Annual Conference amidst the rising of the Omicron variant of COVID and storm Arwen, there were positive vibes ahead of their 2022 calendar. Members did not rush out in their droves early in the year, with numbers rising slowly as time progressed. Numbers for their Annual Conference at the end of November are positive and they are hopeful to reach 90% of pre-pandemic attendance.
In France, USF have had a very successful year, receiving record numbers to their Annual Congress in October. USF’s aim is to place the USF community at the core of the SAP ecosystem and they certainly have a very strong following throughout France.They attribute a lot of the success of their Annual Congress to their Nomadic style,delivering their annual event in different regions of France. Each City they attend ha an effect on both delegate numbers and type, and the host City for their 2022 event,Lyon, has delivered strong numbers each time they have been there. Attendance at the Annual Congress is included in the membership fee and organising an event for1,860 people is no mean feat. When you take into account it is 100% managed and delivered by the USF back office, their success is amplified.
Throughout 2022, AFSUG delivered a number of successful events, including the Tech-Ed style Developer Days and the participation of our SIG leads at the Zimbabwe UserGroup annual conference. These events were instrumental in paving the way for AFSUG to consider how to integrate smaller user groups, that are fragmented within Africa into one strong and unified African SAP User Group.
The majority of AFSUG events were delivered online throughout 2022. The four in-person events have been highly successful in defining a path for hosting in-person events that recognise there must be a hybrid model that transforms the experience from a virtual to an in-person experience, considering that we must accommodate the
new norms as well.
SBN discussed the challenges brought to bear by the geographical spread of their members in Norway. Hybrid has been the way forward for SBN since 2018, which came from the demand of their members. A number of groups have delivered hybrid events and to ensure face to face participation, ‘VIPs’ who they wanted there in person were individually targeted. Exhibitors were at the live event and also presented online. The conference-presentation functionality developed for the virtual conference will be reused onwards. These events have been very successful for SBN as they battle with their geographical challenges and reach an increasing number of SAP professionals year on year.
Like USF, ASUG Argentina do not charge for members to attend their annual event and only levy a charge on partners and non-member participants. Similar to the UK &Ireland, it has been a gradual return to face to face in Argentina, with their annual event in September reaching approximately 50% of pre-pandemic numbers. To reach their members who could not travel, Keynotes were live streamed to an additional online audience.
Overall there was a positive the communities, but the overarching feeling was that members were glad to be back seeing each other in person.
After enjoying a very nice pizza lunch, we discussed our successes and challenges,which was a lively discussion and included
- Recruitment and staffing. We are a strange industry and both finding and embedding the right people takes time.
- Leveraging SUGEN network for content, etc. How can we work better together and share more?
- Community platform – how do we find the right platform for delivering a member portal, including a collaboration tool for our members?
- How do we get SAP customer data to promote membership?
- UKISUG are progressing with the delivery of their strategy and launched a new tone of voice this year, which has come together very well.
- USF demonstrated their community/member platform and SAUG also utilise a member portal tool to delivery their services to members.
- VNSG have over 100 volunteers, aim to make them more visible to their community and have launched a new ‘SIG’ offering to members.
- LinkedIn has been leveraged with varying success to track companies using SAPas well as monitoring partner websites for customer references.
Executive Exchange on Sustainability, November 10
by Per Högberg, SAPSA Board Member,
Swedish User Group, SAPSA
which is not supposed to only focus on an SAP solution, but should be interoperable.
Christian Boos, Head of SAP’s Sustainability Innovation Engagement, outlined SAP’s strategy, which aims to transform organizations into intelligent, sustainable enterprises. Sustainability spans over all end-to-end processes such as lead-to-cash, design-to-operate, source-to-pay and recruit-to-retire.
He explained that SAP is executing across three pillars, the “SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises”, a flexible commercial offering to address customers’ dedicated sustainability needs, besides that the “Green Line” has been mentioned, which means that sustainability should be embedded into the above mentioned end-to-end processes. The third pillar are strong strategic partnerships to facilitate customer adoption and build an ecosystem of 3rd party solutions.
We also dug into the different SAP Sustainability solutions such as the Sustainability Control Tower, which should help to measure ESG factors, assist strategic decision-making and enable organizations to comply with regulatory reporting. Climate Action is supposed to help organizations reduce their carbon footprint with inbuilt integration capabilities. Circular Economy focuses on eliminating waste, delivering a resilient supply chain and enabling regenerative business models. Social Responsibility works around the social aspects of sustainability such as overcoming inequality and protecting human rights.
Different innovation initiatives introduced and asked the SUGEN members for their areas of interest in order to offer deep dive sessions on these topics. “Green Ledger”,“Data Exchange Management” and “Circular Manufacturing” seemed to be of interesthere and received most votes by the participating members.
Executive Exchange on SAP Artificial Intelligence, November 9
by Frank Haes, Chairman,
Belgian SAP User Group, SAPience.be
John has loved Mary for three decades.
Thirty years ago, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based program needed several minutes to understand that John was the subject and Mary was the object of the word “love.”
Today, we can translate pages of documents in milliseconds, unlock our mobile phone by looking at it (3 AI tools to make it happen), and reveal which plant, animal or product is in front of us through tools like Google Lens. (quote from opening of Feiyu’s session at Sapphire Orlando).
Thanks to enormous evolution in high-performance computing, big data and machine learning we have today commercialized AI. AI is not a product on its own, but is more and more integrated into tools to become automated and deliver an enhanced experience.
To utilize AI into business processes, data team needs to work together with businessdomain experts (e.g. sales/service/production/…) to understand their areas of working and problems.
One of the main focus areas for AI should be more on empathy and make machine(s)more human like and close to the needs of people in business. Create labs to simulate real life cases. Feedback by User Groups on AI appreciated.
Today SAP AI is embedded across LOBs & end-to-end processes such as Lead 2 Cash,Design to Operate, Source to Pay, Recruit to Retire. Some examples in the SAP portfolio are
Concur travel expenses. Take picture from your bills and the information will be directly transferred into data
Forecasting spare part consumption through historical data and AI will reduce inventory
In the 3 pillars (Transformative Intelligence, Adaptable Innovation, Trusted), the‘Trusted’-pillar is the one that makes AI credible in business context. The trust part is not only about data privacy (GDPR) but also about the trustworthiness of the AI result.Is it 80% certain or 99,9%. Where does the result come from, should also be addressed to understand the origin of the result.
Given the complexity of AI local market unit(s) don’t have the right experts yet available. This topic should be regularly scheduled on the SUGEN agenda to have knowledge transfer to the UG’s. Proposal is to have a quarterly topic on the SUGEN calls, including F2F SUGEN meetings
Executive Exchange on SAP S/4HANA, November 9
by Joan Torres, Chairman,
Spanish SAP User Group, AUSAPE
Fueled by digitization, subscriptions are more and more replacing the traditional ownership in many industries, such as consumer products or automotive.
Especially in the consumer products industry, the evolution from mass production to customized products can be observed.
On top of that, sustainable business practices are significantly gaining importance. Given all the mentioned developments, questions around how to shorten the time to value, how to benefit from automation or how to ensure operational excellence & cost control, arise. One crucial pillar to successfully tackle these challenges is a modern IT platform.
In the past, too many organizations have only done a technical migration to SAPS/4HANA, without redesigning their business processes. This led to negative feedback from customers, as they have not been able to benefit from the innovations this modern ERP system has in store.
Acknowledging that the move from any legacy system to SAP S/4HANA is a huge step, it needs to be done in a way that organizations can really harness the system’s power in the end of the transition. Each customer is different, from a technical perspective as well as from their mindset, therefore Rise with SAP is designed to take all customers on the journey.
From his role as lead of the SAP S/4HANA Regional Implementation Group (RIG), Berta lso talked about the experiences he has made in many different customer projects. A greenfield implementation project for example does not mean starting from nothing, this is often a wrong perception.
Another observation from these projects is that in average more than 50% of old custom code is not necessary anymore, as those functionalities are often either included in SAP S/4HANA or not being used anymore.
There are many offerings guiding the customers’ journey, such as Experience Trials, Fit2Standard workshops or SAP Activate and the Enterprise Management Layer. In his presentation, Bert highlighted a few additional, valuable resources around SAPS/4HANA:
- SAP S/4HANA Value Customer Stories Flipbook
- New openSAP course “Gain technical knowledge on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition“
- openSAP course “The Business opportunities of a Digitally Transformed Economy“
- openSAP course “Guide Your SAP S/4HANA Project to Success“
- Upgrading SAP S/4HANA – How, Why, and Best Practices
Martin Heinig, Head of SAP New Ventures & Technologies, kicked off his session by outlining SAP’s legacy of 50 years in Enterprise Resource Planning software and emphasizing ongoing developments with the aim to meet customer organizations’biggest challenges.
The unit he is heading, SAP New Ventures & Technologies, focuses on new/emerging technologies in the IT space. Among these technologies, Blockchain, Quantum Computing, Next-gen AI or New Cloud Architectures can be found. He divided his session in three long-term innovation themes that will shape the future:
- Future of business networks
- Future of business decisions
- Future of business processes
Along these themes, different practical examples/proof of concepts, which are not available on the market yet, have been shown and described.
As part of the future of business networks, the introduction of a digital, self-sovereign identity is being investigated by Martin’s team. This identity could simplify identity management in business processes and replace the traditional paper. In order to enhance business decision making in an uncertain and complex environment,influenced by supply chain disruptions, covid lockdowns or high inflation rates, a business decision simulator could help.
By feeding the simulator with different parameters, it provides proposals for the best possible business decision that could be taken. It could for instance suggest, which influencing factors need to be changed in order to optimize the trade margin or liquidity planning and sustainable future.
With regards to the future of business processes, SAP would like to close the gap between the design of business processes and how they really run by combining business process modelling with process change implementation. The aspiration in this area is to offer pre-configured, best-in-class business processes as solutions for concrete business problems. This vision come true by introducing of a composable business process platform, where SAP and partners offer standardized business process content and functionality, with a unified consumption and development experience.
Furthermore, Martin talked about Quantum technologies as a game changer in the future, but as of now, they are still immature and it will most likely be a multiyear journey, working with customers to define use cases.
The same is true for the Metaverse, where SAP is planning to support its customers who are doing business there, e.g. by enabling payments with crypto currencies or the tokenization of goods. The personalization of data in the business world has been mentioned as another topic where there’s potential for improvement looking forward.
Smart contract could act as an example here. Towards the end of his session, Martin said that the User Groups’ feedback on the above-mentioned concepts is important and possible customers who are willing to participate in future use cases are very welcome.
SAP Global User Groups Organization Update,
by Yasmin Awad, SVP, SAP Global User Groups Organization
2022 and Beyond
In her update on the SAP Global User Groups Organization (SAP GUGO), Yasmin Awad provided a detailed overview on her department and how her team supports the usergroups in their daily business.
Each user groups has their very own liaison manager that:
Ensures and facilitates a close relationship and dialogue between SAP and the local user groups both on a global a regional level
Drives all strategic topics and user group priorities as SPOC on SAP side,including briefings, event and speaker support, joint rollouts, and customerfeedback sessions
Besides the liaison managers, SAP GUGO has set up a dedicated knowledge transferteam for the user groups that:
Provides end users with product- and solution-specific knowledge content
Sets up and hosts webinars, workshops, panel discussions and expert chats
Can help you create localized contents and formats for your members
Bundles its offering on
Following the SAP GUGO intro, Yasmin Awad used both SAP’s 50th and SUGEN’s 15thanniversaries as an occasion to highlight the importance of the user groups as a voice of customers and emphasized how strong and powerful the bond between SAP and its user communities is. She illustrated the most important successes, for instance, how the user groups have influenced the continuation of SAP standard support, the prolongation of maintenance deadlines, and the creation of SAP S/4HANA. These milestones could not have been achieved without the valuable influence of the usergroups and the successful collaboration with SAP.
Although there have been many positive joint achievements in the past, the usergroups are also facing challenges. Yasmin used her slot to dive into the following guiding questions that she feels user groups need to have on top of their minds:
How can user groups attract new members (particularly in terms of age,diversity, business or technical backgrounds)?
How can user groups diversify their member profiles looking also into the moves from on-premise to cloud?
How can user groups ensure financial stability with an economic crisis looming(sponsoring, membership and event fees, etc.)?
How should user groups address a significantly reduced willingness to volunteer?
Yasmin concluded the session with an open discussion on how the user groups see these questions and, more importantly, how SAP GUGO can help and assist going forward. There was agreement to create an overview of best practices, examples of successful collaborations and joint achievements.
SUGEN F2F November 2022