The past year was a great one for experience, whether it was customer experience, employee experience, or the experience economy in general. SAP customers were told that, to stay competitive, they needed to focus on measuring experiences and collecting data—and they needed to upgrade to an intelligent enterprise to do both.

As we enter 2020, experience management is still very much top of mind for SAP. “This is a $50 billion opportunity for companies that get it right,” said Lloyd Adams, managing director for the east market, SAP North America. “By 2030, it will be $8 trillion. Expect the experience gap between the superior experiences leaders think they’re providing and what customers think in reality to close as companies get better at integrating experiential data with the operational side.”

But before we consider which technologies will likely trend in this new year, let’s take a look back at what got us here.

The Long Road to Intelligence

There was a lot of noise in the past year vying for your attention. Whether it was to upgrade to SAP S/4HANA, integrate automation into your processes, better understand your license agreements, or again, pay attention to experiences, all of these pointed to one common theme: the intelligent enterprise.

ASUG tapped into our own data to better understand what topics were important to members in 2019. The most read articles in 2019 focused on four common topics: SAP S/4HANA, customer experience, intelligent technologies, and licensing.

As more and more organizations look to become intelligent enterprises, they will also look for the paths that will lead them down that road.

The SAP S/4HANA Path to Intelligence

At the beginning of 2019, the ASUG State of the Community study revealed that 32% of participants were already live or starting to go live on SAP S/4HANA (16% and 16%, respectively). And an additional 56% were looking to make the move sometime in the next two years. Although the 2020 version of this study is still under analysis, ASUG projects that both those numbers will increase and that there will be a greater emphasis on planning and managing a move to SAP S/4HANA.

In fact, in 2019, two of the most-read articles revolved around doing just that. “Planning for a Successful ERP Project: Part One” and “Part Two” offered insights on why big ERP projects fail and how to avoid common mistakes, as well as what you need to know and do to start your project on the right track.

Leading up to 2019, not everyone was thinking about SAP S/4HANA. In fact, according to the 2019 ASUG State of the Community study, 12% had no plans to move at all. It seems that as the year went on, those organizations turned to “ASUG Asks the Authors: An Introduction to SAP S/4HANA” and “SAP S/4HANA: Let’s Get Moving” to better understand the value the technology could bring to their organization.

There is a lot to keep up with and understand when it comes to SAP S/4HANA. Which is probably why our “A Guide to SAP S/4HANA Resources,” and “The Express Road to Building an SAP Center of Excellence” were popular articles in 2019. We hope to bring you more of these in 2020 to help you along your journey.

The Customer Experience Path to Intelligence

When SAP acquired Qualtrics at the end of 2018, this combination set the stage for building momentum around experience. In fact, during SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference in 2019, former SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith announced 10 new offerings that combine experience data (X-data) with operational data (O-data) to measure and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product, and brand.

Although Qualtrics is still the new kid on the block in terms of acquired products, SAP has been focusing on the “customer experience” for a couple of years now, particularly with its introduction of SAP C/4HANA suite of cloud solutions in 2018. Most of you were interested in “Why SAP Is Helping Build Digital Customer Experiences,” and what this could mean for your business.

The Intelligent Technologies Path to Intelligence

For a couple of years now, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been the leading emerging technologies, according to ASUG research. Respondents to our studies in 2018 and 2019 indicated that AI is the technology that they anticipate will change their businesses the most in the next two years. Software developers are finding new ways of integrating both AI and machine learning within their products and services, and organizations are finding ways of using them to improve processes and provide new functionalities.

So it’s not surprising that an ASUG member decided to blog about the topic. The post he wrote about the effects of AI, “4 Compelling Business Drivers for AIOps,” was one of the most popular articles of the year.

But to really gain an ROI from intelligent technologies (which by the way aren’t just limited to AI and machine learning, but more on that later), an organization needs to be able to collect and analyze the data that emerges from them. Readers were drawn to “Winding Back the Clock on Real-Time Data Analytics” and how they can process information today with a sense of immediacy.

The Licensing Path to Intelligence

With all these new platforms and software as a service options, as well as emerging technologies, ASUG members were looking for clarity on what they own and what they’re entitled to use.

You asked a lot of questions, and ASUG CEO Geoff Scott shared some insight and news on what to make of SAP's Digital Access Adoption Program in “A New Answer to Your Digital Access Questions.” Readers were also interested in “Johnsonville’s Journey: Assessing SAP Digital Access,” a series from its CIO Ron Gilson, who analyzed indirect access, the impact of digital access licensing on the company, and the pros and cons of adopting a new licensing model.

ASUG will cover more on licensing in 2020, so be sure to check in for updates.

The 2020 Path to Intelligence

ASUG predicts the four topics that garnered the most interest in 2019 will continue to be top of mind for most of our members in 2020. The focus will remain on the road to the intelligent enterprise and the different paths to get there.

When it comes to SAP S/4HANA, there will likely be a slight shift in conversation from, “Why should we make the move?” to “We’re moving or we’re here—now what?” As it relates to customer experience, SAP has vowed to place an emphasis on its own customers’ experience, and ASUG will continue to unwrap what this all means for members. When it comes to emerging technologies, although AI and machine learning are still hot topics, there will be others that join the club, including robotic process automation (RPA), and conversational AI, for example.

“In 2020, AI and machine learning will become more embedded into applications as a core component of business process flow,” said Gunther Rothermel, EVP SAP Cloud Platform, SAP SE. “We’ll see a transformation from business process management of the past to intelligent business process management. With conversational AI and RPA embedded directly into business process flow, all users will look at processes and be empowered to modify them to become more efficient. As a result, we can expect simplified workflows and an overall increase in productivity.”

Whatever path(s) you take to the intelligent enterprise in 2020, make sure you’re providing a great experience for you, your employees, and your customers—and know that ASUG is here to help you along the way. We wish you and your organizations a prosperous new year!

Based on our data, and in no particular order, here are 10 of the most popular articles from ASUG News + Views in 2019: