At ASUG Tech Connect, this year’s destination event for the SAP developer community, we presented new ASUG research on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to a packed room—thanks to Geoff Scott, ASUG CEO & Chief Community Champion, who promoted the session during his opening keynote to draw in an audience.
I had the privilege of co-presenting our findings with Kimberly Sharp, Managing Partner at EverBlue Partners, who contextualized the data I shared, bringing it to life for conference attendees.
ASUG conducted this research in August 2023, to better understand awareness and usage of the solution; 196 ASUG members shared their experiences with SAP BTP. (This marks our second year of collaboration with SAP on research around this topic.) Here are five lessons learned from our members on how to get the most out of their current or future investment in SAP BTP.
1. Become Familiar
When we asked ASUG members using SAP BTP what advice they would give to SAP customers considering the solution, survey respondents recommended establishing familiarity with the platform—and all its capabilities—as a first step.
“Start with an understanding of the BTP concepts,” advised one current SAP BTP user. “Develop a short-term and a long-term roadmap, which should be aligned with internal and external stakeholders/partners.”
Of the ASUG members surveyed, 65% reported having some familiarity with SAP BTP, while 80% of respondents either currently use SAP BTP or are considering it for the future. Among those currently using SAP BTP, however, 46% do not feel they are fully leveraging the solution.
Sharp pointed out that being familiar is different than being knowledgeable—that, in fact, familiarity is just the beginning. One can be familiar with a wide range of subjects without necessarily possessing a depth of knowledge or expertise. And a deeper understanding of the various components that make SAP BTP a single, unified environment for SAP users is helpful in fully leveraging its capabilities.
2. Why SAP BTP?
Focus on the technologies or components of SAP BTP that are most important to your organization. Technical practitioners, enterprise architects, developers, and others in IT organizations should identify their strategic priorities and gain alignment with business stakeholders to determine which technologies are most important to the organization.
“Believe in possibilities, but understand what’s plausible,” said Sharp. “Nothing is impossible but, considering your company’s journey, how do you want to leverage it?”
According to survey respondents currently using SAP BTP, integration (75%) is by far the most important benefit for their organization to be leveraged through the environment, followed secondarily by analytics (51%), application development (47%), and process automation (39%). Other potential benefits of SAP BTP included database and database management (24%), AI (23%), planning (20%), and identity management or security (18%).
According to one current SAP BTP user, “BTP is a broad/overarching name for several different capabilities, and clarifying within the organization which capabilities are being used/evaluated is important to set expectations.”
In building business cases for adoption of SAP BTP, Sharp emphasized the importance of understanding what the business most seeks from its technology modernization initiatives, and of prioritizing change management and training post-implementation. “No matter what we build, if our business isn’t using it, we haven’t done our jobs,” Sharp said.
3. Create a Plan
After identifying what the organization needs, it’s time to plan. Build a business case with key players. And leverage the right partners at the right stage of planning to drive the success of your organization, be those internal team members or external partners.
Leaning into the ASUG BTP community—including through the ASUG BTP Community Alliance—can yield additional benefits for those planning or considering the solution. 58% of surveyed ASUG members considering SAP BTP are currently involving partners or consultants; 25% are doing so prior to implementation, 29% during implementation and 4% after implementation is complete.
Of the ASUG members surveyed, 59% additionally specified they reach out to partners or consultants for assistance to ensure the quality/success of their implementation. “Make sure you have a solid and responsive implementation partner and work with ASUG BTP experts to gain added insights,” advised one current SAP BTP user.
4. Build a Team
“There is a steep learning curve and resource requirement to get the most out of BTP,” according to one SAP BTP current customer. “It is more involved than it may seem at first glance.”
And the difficulties of leveraging SAP BTP to the fullest extent are compounded by a lack of SAP-skilled talent at SAP BTP customers’ organizations, according to survey respondents, 52% of whom said they reach out to partners or consultants for assistance due to a lack of internal knowledge or skills.
68% of those surveyed acknowledged that SAP BTP expertise is lacking at their organizations. And while the SAP BTP environment incorporates various solutions introduced over a number of years, SAP BTP itself was first announced in January 2021. (For comparison’s sake, SAP S/4HANA was launched in 2015 and remains the top skillset lacking at customers’ organizations, according to ASUG’s 2023 Pulse of the SAP Customer research.)
Sharp stressed the importance of building a team around your implementation strategy and empowering that team with knowledge. Introducing what she called “shoulder-to-shoulder,” Sharp advocated for ensuring at the contract stage that strategic partners or consultants can always be accompanied by internal team members when supporting SAP BTP implementations at their organizations. “Get them seated for the project,” said Sharp. “Make them your project team.” This ensures that knowledge and expertise is retained internally, after such a point as the partner or consultant’s contract ends.
5. Implement in Phases
When we asked current SAP BTP users what benefits their organizations hoped to gain through leveraging the technology, connecting business applications and data across the enterprise (65%), customizing or extending SAP applications while keeping the core ‘clean’ (49%), automating and optimizing business processes (48%), and accelerating innovation (42%) were all noted as benefits needed most.
However, when respondents asked about which benefits they've realized thus far from using SAP BTP, connecting business applications and data across the enterprise (61%) led the results, with driving better decisions with analytics and/or planning (32%) also emerging as a key benefit realized by users, while areas like accelerating innovation (22%) trailing behind.
What this research indicates most pressingly is the importance of setting realistic and achievable goals for each phase of implementation, and then delivering on those before continuing to the next phase. It’s “progress over perfection” when embarking on the SAP BTP journey, Sharp said. “The sum is greater than the parts, but you need to implement SAP BTP in parts in order to be successful.”
“Take a gradual approach to implement BTP features,” advised one current SAP BTP user. “Start with process automation, integration, and better customer experience, move further with data/analytics to support decision-makers, and add AI to further leverage the BTP functionalities.”
Marissa Gilbert is ASUG’s Director of Research.
Continue the conversation by joining the ASUG Business Technology Platform (BTP) Community Alliance and registering for this week’s ASUG BTP Community Alliance Town Hall (Nov. 14; 12:00-1:00 p.m. CST; included with your ASUG membership).