ASUG member organization business and technology leaders gathered for their first Summit in over two years to trade valued insights and experiences with SAP technology, including SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), SAP S/4HANA, and Sustainability.
The Executive Exchange Summit, an element of ASUG member executive leader programming, featured detailed sessions on SAP technologies and customer-delivered project briefings. Summit highlights included a morning-long dive into enterprise sustainability challenges and solutions, and creative start-up mindset exercises.
Here are brief recaps of key sessions.
SAP and Customer Views on BTP
Koshy Vadaketh and Craig Spielman, SAP Enterprise Architects, talked through BTP value and positioning for customers. Noting that BTP drives automation and integration, they said BTP is:
- The foundation of SAP Intelligent Sustainable Enterprise
- A material component for customers’ and SAP internal application and service development
- Delivering business content across the board, with out-of-the-box applications and services
- Platform as a service
- One domain model
- Pick-and-choose capabilities and services
- Key to third-party application support and integration, and
- “A good step for businesses on the journey from SAP ECC to S/4HANA.”
They referenced the SAP Cloud Platforms Enterprise Agreement (CPEA), a licensing alternative for customers to commit a minimum spend and pay based on service selection and measured use in “cloud credits.” The duo also recommended attendees explore BTP-related user cases and “missions” available through the SAP Discovery Center.
Karthik Neelamegam, Florida Crystals Senior Director, Enterprise Architecture, delivered views on his organization’s BTP experience to date. Neelamegam and team have already realized key benefits that include:
- Cost advantages
- Scalability upside
- Rapid application development and deployment.
“For the same budget collar, you have more capabilities and services, because of SAP continuing to add services and options,” he said.
Yet, he acknowledged Florida Crystals’ BTP challenges, namely team and support resources that need training and experience, and integration gaps, particularly with Concur. In short, Neelamegam said BTP “is not an easy walk.”
Enterprises and Sustainability
Japen Hollist, SAP Head of Sustainability North America, led off a panel session with a statistics-based attendee wake-up call. He told attendees of SAP internal research to “stress test the hypothesis” posed in the SAP tagline, “The Best Run SAP.” Among the findings, in terms of financial, supply chain and sustainability, the best “do run” SAP. Other data points included that 99% of the top 100 global companies run SAP and SAP customers generate 87% of total global commerce.
Hollist noted, however, that the 87% global commerce base also reflects businesses that generate 84% of the world’s CO2 emissions, which makes for a “sustainability gap” where C-level executives “consistently talk about ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) topics but have terrible ESG scores.
“The sustainability performance gap is an ambition-to-action gap,” Hollist said. “Technology can help solve these challenges and shrink the performance gap between ambition and action.”
Hollist argued that “no company will make its way to sustainability without embedding ESG data into business processes,” and that ESG data and organizational KPI reporting be attained by and reflect the four As:
- Automation: data that is not manually gathered but is assembled and reported every quarter, every year “essentially you want it real-time”
- Assurance: data “needs to be assured,” of integrity, with a known origin
- Auditability: in a format that can be audited
- Attestation: in a format that can be reported and attested to by auditors and officers, as well as used by third parties.
SAP solutions do surface and report key ESG-related data to help organizations understand and achieve different sustainability goals, he said. He referenced SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur and SAP SuccessFactors, and noted Environmental Health and Management, Product Compliance, Product Footprint, and Responsible Design and Production solutions built on BTP and optimized for SAP S/4HANA.
Also, on BTP and SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP late last year released Sustainability Control Tower. Hollist characterized Control Tower as “an early product” with “more coming” yet the “keystone” for holistic sustainability data assembly, analysis, and reporting.
Describing Control Tower capabilities, “You pick the standards and KPIs you need to track, you establish your baselines, and then you report to your greenline with data that reflects the four As,” Hollist said.
To attendees who generally said they are still on ECC and building their S/4HANA value stories and business cases for S/4HANA, Damien Johnson, SAP Global Chief Architect, RISE with SAP, made cross-summit topic connections including:
- BTP and cloud solutions are integrated into the S/4HANA engine
- Business solutions’ connections—SAP sustainability products, Concur—are S/4HANA-pre-integrated
- Once inside S/4HANA, master data is distributed to all systems, answering a key enterprise master data and governance consideration
- S/4HANA—one domain model as the ultimate driver
- S/4HANA advances clean core.
For businesses just beginning or advancing sustainability initiatives, Johnson said, “Customers do not need S/4HANA to become sustainable enterprises, but it will be much easier to do so, to help you operationalize sustainability, to model, implement, and to manage the reporting aspects.”
As they wrapped up day one activities and considered the day two focus on SAP S/4HANA and on SAP sustainability strategy and initial tools, attendees said they valued the experiences; learning from others’ challenges and progress; and cross-industry connections. When asked for a singular highlight, responses included:
- “Continuing to hear the challenges of others.”
- “The challenges with integrations that we all have within business and in our organizations. I’ve realized I’m not the only one facing these challenges. We’re not alone.”
- “Just meeting people from different industries and learning new innovations. How everyone is using technology, and how everyone is using technology differently. Exchanging the knowledge has been very helpful.”
- “All the different scenarios for integration. Good group!”
- “The same issues become the same opportunities. How do we make the best of this as a group? We’re all a big community with SAP as we continue together down the same path.”
- “It’s the opportunity to interact and make connections. We’re a manufacturer but need to become a technology company. What can I provide to my company to support these new dynamics and provide the support we have and need as an organization overall?”
- “Hearing more about SAP’s offerings, I think I’ve learned a lot through my experience with my friends and colleagues.”