Earlier this year, ASUG sat down with Vikas Lodha, chief solution advisor for the Customer Office SAP BTP Core, for a wide-ranging conversation focused on the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). We discussed what the SAP BTP is, how it can help customers, and how it fits into the larger SAP ecosystem. Check out our conversation.

ASUG: Tell us about your role at SAP.

Vikas: I am the chief solution advisor for the Customer Office SAP BTP Core. I work with customers, provide guidance on overall SAP solutions, working together to build end-to-end scenarios and how best to adopt BTP in transformation. I also help support our executives with topics related to the customers and the field organizations of SAP.

ASUG: Can you give us a high level of what the SAP BTP is and what customers can accomplish with it?

Vikas: Just from a high level, SAP BTP is the platform for the intelligent enterprise. And what does this mean? It allows the customers to focus on the business rather than technical blocks. In today's business reality, with digital transformation, IT needs to lead the way to enable companies, to do things quicker and faster.

To achieve this, we delivered the SAP BTP, which allows the capabilities to turn customer data into action with three pillars. The first of those three pillars, which powers that intelligent enterprise, is integration. Integration enhances the business operations across the value chain by connecting all systems seamlessly. Because in today's world, the IT landscapes are very complex: cloud systems, SaaS (software-as-a-service) environments, and hyperscale technologies.

The second pillar is extensibility. Companies need to stay agile while adapting to the rapid business conditions and changing those customer demands. It could be that you want to build an extension for providing a new value or enriching your business needs. It could be innovating some of those things when you move over to the cloud or doing the digital transformation of SAP S/4HANA. You want to move all those custom modifications to a standard cloud approach to make your environment much more agile. Then the third pillar is data to value. That is essential to the organization. You need to have that consolidated view across all data sets, which can achieve insights, make real time decisions as a part of transformation journey.

ASUG: What is your sales pitch for the SAP BTP?

Vikas: I'll first start with an innovation situation with a Swiss-based automation supplier, instrumentation and process company. This company has operations in 120 countries. It runs SAP SuccessFactors, SAP S/4HANA, BW4HANA, Salesforce. It also runs Microsoft Azure, AWS hyperscale technology. The organization uses multi-cloud, open technology. The company is on a journey to make sure that it moves from a process instrumentation manufacturer to a digital service provider. That's a big change just from the business model point of view. The organization has 40 million sensors on elevators installed at customer locations. But then it lacks insight, with less than 3% of that data being leveraged. This company wants to achieve that data-driven innovation by integrating all of those sensors with the software it has installed at the customer site.

With intelligence suite, and third-party data, this organization was able to identify significant process optimization and it found similar business processes with most of their customer across seven countries. So how did the organization do it? It leverages the SAP BTP as the platform, across the board with SAP Integration Suite, and SAP HANA Cloud.

I mention this example because it’s an innovative use case. But also, because many customers want to start with low-hanging fruits and get instant value immediately. Let’s say an organization wants to move from SAP ECC 6 to SAP S/4HANA. The company wants to do vulnerability checks because it’s written some ABAP code. We tell the organization “why don't you start with SAP BTP with an ABAP stack?” The company just has to set up an RFC connection and a cloud connector. You can have it up and running within hours, as opposed to doing a major upgrade, to identify that custom code. That’s a huge save of 20 to 40 days!

The SAP BTP also gives our customers access to predefined content. We provide pre-defined RPA content. With the SAP Integration Suite, we provide thousands and thousands of pre-delivered content on the integration suite. We have tons of pre-delivered application content available on the SAP BTP to help your transition to the cloud.

ASUG: I attended SAP TechEd last year, where you all announced the new SAP BTP low code, no code tools. Can you speak on that development?

Vikas: We are in a place where customers want to bring in the developer efficiencies to the business, much faster. How does the business consume and build applications? Because you don't want to learn the coding per se, just to build an application. That's why we acquired AppGyver, which is now part of the SAP BTP portfolio. AppGyver is a low code, no code solution, which is very important to improve your developer efficiency and help business users become “citizen developers”. A citizen developer should be able to quickly build and act in hours or days. Because it's the line of businesses that are driving the innovation, what they need immediately. We have introduced the concept of process automation. We are merging the workflow technologies and RPAs as a seamless consumption with low code, no code.

ASUG: ASUG recently released its annual Pulse of the SAP Customer research data. One of the things we asked our customers were their areas of focus for 2022. For the third year running, integration was one of the top four areas that our customers indicated as a priority. In what ways can the SAP BTP help customers specifically tackle their integration needs this year?

Vikas: This is the most important topic because integration is the backbone of your business processes. SAP takes it seriously to the level that we provide, first and foremost, thousands of those predefined integration scenarios. And it is just not that we provide SAP to SAP predefined integration. It is SAP to non-SAP scenarios also. They're publicly listed on api.sap.com. You just search it and it's made available. All our RISE with SAP customers are moving towards the SAP Integration Suite. We provide a way to move your PI/PO interfaces to the integration suite in a seamless way.

On top of that, SAP also has an integration advisory service methodology, which guides you to support various patterns of integrations. This provides a holistic view of integration including when to use what technology, how to define your integration guidelines, what are the best practices to cover It covers various types of integrations including cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-on-premise, and user-to-cloud. Then there are patterns for application-to-application, business-to-business, or business-to-consumer integrations. In this context, we just don't provide a technology layer, but we provide the guided business context.

ASUG: Can you tell us more about the AI capabilities in the SAP BTP? What challenges are these capabilities helping your customers overcome?

Vikas: AI is now core to all industries. Every customer wants to embed AI technology. With that said, customers find a lot of time and effort to implement AI. So what we have done in the SAP BTP is to start introducing these models, which can quickly solve those best problems. A quick example is the service intelligence solution, which allows you to optimize your ticket handling very effectively and quickly. Another example - How do you automate the business document? There is a service that automatically classifies your document without human intervention.

Of course, customers can train to enrich their models. There is a service that provides data attribute parsing. So if you have data coming in and you want to identify your commodity code and material groups, the solution automatically allows you to pass that data and the AI service automatically identifies that. That way, you are bringing in a quick business value to the customer so that the customer doesn't need to invest time and energy to start setting up the environment, building up the model, and then training up the model before they can get that value out of it.

On top of it, what we are putting is AI and ML capabilities across your enterprise suite. You might have heard about SAP S/4HANA cash application, right? That's built on the SAP BTP, but then we are making sure that our intelligent enterprises like SAP S/4HANA have those capabilities embedded.

ASUG: Vikas, does the future hold for the SAP BTP as we look at 2022 and beyond?

Vikas: We look at the industry trends. With those industry trends in mind, we are constantly enhancing and enriching the technology, and then taking that technology into the business. One perspective I want to provide is SAP uses its own products. We internally built thousands of applications on the SAP BTP for internal use. When we release our products on the SAP BTP, we first test it on us. And then you see SAP Industry cloud applications getting built. All our industry cloud applications are getting powered with the SAP BTP. That's the future of the SAP BTP: it’s the foundation.