During SAP Sapphire & ASUG Accelerate last week, attendees flocked to Orlando for the first time in three years to network with their peers. It was finally a chance to hear the biggest SAP news and announcements directly from the software company.

For those of us who couldn’t attend in person (including this writer), SAP and ASUG offered a virtual experience for parts of the conference. Featuring keynotes and a flurry of panels featuring SAP customers and experts, the virtual conference focused on the conference’s biggest themes: resilience, agility, and sustainability. Here are some highlights from the virtual sessions.

Creating More Resilient Supply Chains

During his keynote address, SAP CEO Christian Klein continually referred to the importance of creating resilient enterprises. A main takeaway from the last two years was that agile, resilient organizations are the ones that will thrive during times of disruption.

Etosha Thurman, Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer at SAP, as well as Muhammad Alam, President and Chief Product Officer of Intelligent Spend and Business Network at SAP, hosted a session focused on resiliency and supply chains. The session also featured a conversation with Paul Cocuzzo, Executive Director of Supply Chain and External Manufacturing IT at Merck & Co., a global pharmaceutical company and SAP customer.

Opening the panel, Thurman noted that supply chain issues are not new; they’ve just been hidden until the last few years. She encouraged organizations to “reflect and rethink to be ready for the next time disruption hits.”

Alam discussed SAP solutions that can help customers tackle specific challenges, including the SAP Business Network, which brings together buyers, suppliers, and trading partners to provide a simplified platform for exchanging and acquiring products. According to Alam, over $3 trillion worth of commerce and $600 million B2B transactions have occurred on the SAP Business Network over the past 12 months.

The panel speakers then switched gears to a conversation with Cocuzzo, who spoke about some of the specific supply chain challenges Merck & Co. has experienced. According to Cocuzzo, the organization’s contract manufacturers cover about 130 supply nodes and do about 6,000 batches per year. He noted that leveraging solutions like the SAP Business Platform provides Merck & Co. with visibility and control over its supply chains.

“Visibility allows us to orchestrate the supply network, be responsive, and exert control,” he told attendees.

Demystifying the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP)

In another session, Kerri Tenbrunsel, SVP and Head of BTP at SAP; Ragunath Ramanathan, Chief Revenue Officer of BTP at SAP; and Ashish Parmar, CIO of Tapestry articulated the value of the SAP BTP.

“In order for any organization to achieve that agility and resiliency, they need to possess the right technology platform that unlocks and unites value across business processes,” Tenbrunsel said. “Companies that have a flexible technology foundation that can adapt to change can grow three times faster than their competitors.”

She then laid out a real-life example of an SAP customer successfully leveraging the SAP BTP: Verge Motorcycles, an electric motorcycle company. Tenbrunsel described how the organization began using AppGyver, a low-code/no-code development tool included in the SAP BTP, to build 10 applications across its entire manufacturing process.

Ramanathan then detailed the three key areas of the SAP BTP and how they can help customers: low-code/no-code capabilities, process automation, and data. He touched on low-code/no-code options, which help organizations complete digital transformations faster. These options also allow everyone in the organization to be part of the process, as opposed to just involving the IT side of the business. When it comes to data, Ramanathan discussed how the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud can assist customers as they collect and analyze data from across SAP and non-SAP applications.

Becoming More Sustainable Enterprises 

The topic of sustainability got a lot of airtime at SAP Sapphire & ASUG Accelerate. Sustainability was a major part of Christian Klein’s address and the focus of the conference’s third keynote session, which was hosted by podcaster and actor Dax Shepard. Additionally, Japen Hollist, Director of Value Advisory at SAP, as well as Mihir Gor, Distinguished Engineer and Sustainability Innovation Lead at IBM, hosted a session focused on building sustainable enterprises.

“Sustainability is going to be the biggest thing since the Apollo missions,” Gor told the audience.

Hollist began by explaining how customers can begin their sustainability journeys, which is often a difficult and complex undertaking. He encouraged attendees to first focus on re-examining supply chains and creating corporate social responsibility reports.

Hollist also discussed the need for organizations to add new criteria to their general ledgers, including carbon footprint measuring. He noted that organizations, even those outside of Europe, will likely be required to start including these measurements in their reporting by government intervention. We’re already seeing this trend in the United States, with the Securities and Exchange Commission proposing new climate reporting standards.

Missed SAP Sapphire & ASUG Accelerate Orlando? No fear, you can still register and watch many of these sessions on demand.

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