Like many of you, I have spent the past several weeks reflecting on the major trends of 2021, and considering how they will continue to play out in 2022. It brings me no pleasure in saying, that the most dominant theme affecting both our professional and personal lives remains COVID-19. This third wave of the virus has demonstrated that while we have taken great strides to protect ourselves from COVID-19, it remains a hurdle we still have to overcome.

Yet, COVID-19 was not the only major theme we saw play out in the SAP ecosystem last year. In fact, this past year saw the software company make some fascinating announcements and gave us a good look at what its focuses are moving forward. With all that in mind, here are some of the main trends we saw in the SAP ecosystem in 2021 and how they will potentially factor into 2022 and beyond.

Sustainability

With the exception of COVID-19, climate change is probably the most pressing crisis facing humanity right now. During the 2021 SAPPHIRE NOW keynote address, SAP underlines its intention of making sustainability a key part of its ecosystem. It’s also an area of focus for ASUG members. In our soon-to-be-released 2022 Pulse of the SAP Customer research, we found that nearly one-third (31%) of respondents indicated that sustainability was a key area of focus for their organization in 2022.

“We must act on a goal of zero emissions, zero waste, and zero inequality,” Klein said during the keynote. “It’s time to build sustainability into the fabric of how we do business.”

The company followed up on that promise just this month with the announcement of SAP Cloud for Sustainability. This new offering has embedded sustainability practices and functions across the entirety of a business. The offering not only allows customers to manage and oversee their entire environmental footprint, but also track the recycling and reusing of materials, prove product compliance, and factor sustainability considerations into supply chains. SAP also launched the SAP Sustainability Control Tower in the final days of 2021. This allows users to integrated data from SAP and non-SAP solutions to create environmental, social, and governance reporting vital to businesses.

These announcements along with the focus on sustainability at SAPPHIRE NOW 2021 indicate that SAP is committed to ensuring that sustainability will be a crucial part of its portfolio. Hopefully, we will continue to see new sustainability functions added to the SAP ecosystem as the organization continues to make sustainability reporting and analytics available to its customers.

“SAP truly has the power to protect our planet and create the future our children want to be a part of,” Klein said during the SAPPHIRE NOW 2021 keynote.

Migrating to the Cloud and Implementing SAP S/4HANA

Another significant focus for SAP in 2021 was on encouraging its customers to migrate to the cloud and adopt the software company’s banner solution: SAP S/4HANA. This has been a priority for SAP for a couple of years now. If you have spent any time at an SAP event or webinar in the past couple of years, you have almost certainly heard the term “Intelligent Enterprise,” the notion of an organization that is making use of the SAP-integrated suite of solutions across its entire enterprise.

“The [COVID-19] crisis underscored the urgent need for every company to become an intelligent enterprise,” Klein said during the SAPPHIRE NOW 2021 keynote address.

To meet this need, SAP introduced a new offering in January 2021 that would not only help customers adopt SAP S/4HANA and migrate to the cloud, but also assist in getting an organization’s data and business processes optimized for such a migration: RISE with SAP. The subscription-based offering was referred to as “business transformation as a service” by Klein during his introduction. SAP acquired Signavio, a business process management company, to help bolster the offering by allowing customers to receive personalized recommendations on how to improve business processes.

“We provide technology to help you understand how you operate today,” Gero Decker, CEO and co-founder of Signavio told ASUG in an interview last year. “Where are things great? Where are things not so great? Where do you have bottlenecks? Where do you have improvement potential?”

RISE with SAP only demonstrates the software company’s commitment to getting their customers into the cloud and leveraging SAP S/4HANA. SAP still has 2027 targeted as the end of maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7, which includes SAP ERP 6.0, SAP CRM 7.0, SAP Supply Chain Management 7.0, SAP Supplier Relationship Management 7.0, and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. This gives customers five years to migrate away from legacy SAP solutions and implement SAP S/4HANA.

We are seeing this reflected in our Pulse of the SAP Customer 2022 data, where exactly one-third of respondents set cloud migration as an area of focus for this year. What’s more, 44% of respondents are either live on SAP S/4HANA or have started their migration, while another 42% indicated that they have at least plans to migrate.

It will be interesting to see how SAP continues to encourage migrating to the cloud and implementing SAP S/4HANA over the course of the next year, and beyond. RISE with SAP certainly indicates the company’s commitment to its customers and their technology journeys.