“We know the journey has not always been easy,” SAP CEO Bill McDermott said in his keynote address on day 1 of SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference. “But when we listen, understand, and act, we fulfill our potential as your trusted innovator. No company is perfect, not even SAP. But we are focused on becoming the best run version of ourselves in the relentless pursuit of making you, our customers, the best run businesses in the world.”

It was a lively crowd overflowing onto the show floor eager to hear about SAP’s new developments and what it meant for their businesses. This year’s theme—the customer experience—was front and center in today’s announcements as well as on the show floor and education sessions throughout the day.

More than 20,000 attendees experienced the show and had the opportunity to give feedback in real time through one of the many Qualtrics survey stations situated throughout the conference. They also had the opportunity to make connections that matter and that will help drive their business objectives forward.

Checking in on the Intelligent Enterprise

“We started the conversation last year with the intelligent enterprise,” McDermott said. “And we need to keep that conversation on track.” To help do that, Christian Klein, SAP COO and member of the executive board took the stage to remind attendees of the value drivers of innovation, intelligence, and integration. He shared how he in his role as chief operating officer is helping transform SAP into an intelligent enterprise using its own technology.

With innovation, he said, artificial intelligence is on the road map. “With the use of AI, we are very confident that we can increase the automation level of processes by over 50% by the end of 2019. That’s a commitment,” he said. The second value driver is real-time steering. “The intelligent enterprise is built on SAP HANA. And now with SAP Analytics Cloud spanning across all our applications, we enable you to steer the company real time, end-to-end. And finally, Klein said integration is the foundation of intelligent enterprise. “We’ve acquired market-leading cloud solutions sitting on different technology stacks with different data models. We will now deliver a harmonized UI spanning across the whole business process, end-to-end. The integration layer for all our applications going forward will be the SAP Cloud Platform. We will deliver the entire domain model of all our applications as a service on the SAP Cloud Platform.”

Outcome-Based Intelligent Enterprises with XM

It wasn’t long ago that SAP announced its acquisition of Qualtrics and left many wondering, “what does it mean and where does it fit?” McDermott, along with Qualtrics’s 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.

“When we introduced SAP C/4HANA last year, it was about achieving a single view of the customer, in any channel,” McDermott said. “We said let’s connect all applications to deliver the customer experience. Experience is now the organizing principle of the global economy. Every CEO I meet is trying to solve the experience gap, which is the difference between what people actually want versus what they receive.”

To help solve that gap, the new offerings include four solutions for customer experience (CX), three for employee experience, and three in market research, all which have embed X-data directly into an enterprise’s applications.  

“We live in the experience economy where organizations are either intentionally racing to the top or unknowingly racing to the bottom,” Smith said. “The difference between the companies that will win is they understand how X-data and O-data work together to tell the story of what is happening in an organization, why it’s happening, and how to act in real time to deliver breakthrough business results.”

New Development with Apple

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook joined McDermott on stage to announce that CORE ML, Apple’s on-device machine learning technology, will be available for the first time as part of the SAP Cloud Platform software development kit (SDK) for iOS.

“We’re now in the midst of really doubling down on our partnership, one that we treasure,” McDermott said.

Customers will soon be able to create custom, intelligent iOS apps powered by SAP Leonardo. Machine learning models will automatically download to Apple devices so apps can run offline, and then dynamically update while connected to SAP Cloud Platform.

SAP also announced it will expand its app offerings to the Mac, with new apps that match the power and ease of use of SAP iOS apps. The new native Mac apps will bring the richness of the SAP iOS experience to the desktop world.

“Enterprise customers are seeing real business benefits when they use iOS,” Cook said. We are excited for SAP to extend these experiences further on iPhone and iPad, as well as bringing them to the Mac for the first time. This is an important milestone for our partnership, and we are thrilled to be working together with SAP to empower our customers with the world’s most-trusted business process data on iPhone, iPad, and Mac—the best devices for business.”

Making Connections and Finding Your Path

Although today was the official start of SAPPHIRE NOW, ASUG kicked off the conference a day earlier paving a path for its members to make valuable connections. More than 100 attendees participated in the ASUG Executive Exchange meeting on Monday morning to network with peers. More than 550 attendees participated in one of 14 ASUG Pre-Conference Seminars, where they learned from colleagues and SAP product experts.

ASUG kept the momentum going this morning with a powerful ASUG Women Connect breakfast, which was moderated by Soledad O’Brien. The all-woman panel of ASUG Members included Lorena Ferino, CIO of Plexxus, Jennifer Jao, divisional information officer, Toyota, Sharon Kaiser, CIO of New England Biolabs and ASUG Board Member, and Mani Dasgupta, CMO, IBM Global Business Services.

One attendee tweeted, “Women leaders inspire! Thoroughly enjoying this panel.” It really was a great discussion without an empty seat in the room. O’Brien engaged with the panel as well as the attendees cautioning, “If people in your life aren’t part of your support, then cut them out!”

ASUG Has Your Back

Day 1 wouldn’t be complete without the closing keynote by ASUG’s CEO, Geoff Scott. He surprised the audience by greeting everyone from a seat among them. “I began my journey with SAP like many of you, right here in these seats. And I figured today would be a great opportunity to come back here and begin our conversation this afternoon where this all began for me as a customer.”

Scott made a point to connect with attendees before diving into ASUG’s theme this year—achieving your personal best. “I want to talk to you this afternoon about reaching your pinnacle. Because your personal best is more important than ever,” he said.

ASUG CEO Geoff Scott

To demonstrate the importance of that, Scott brought on stage with him Soledad O’Brien and Bear Grylls to share their personal stories of achieving their personal best. “There are four clear things that have made a huge difference,” Grylls said. “Failure. Fear. Fire. And Faith. Achieving dreams will mean failure. It’s about knowing fear will be a constant journeyman. It’s about understanding our dreams will ask us to dig deeper than we will ever imagine. But we’re given a fire within with which to fight, and a faith with which to endure.”

“We all know that it’s tough out there,” Scott added. “The speed of technology is changing, and it is being embedded into the very fabric of our lives. You, all of you, are at the epicenter of this titanic change and you are critical to making all this work. And because of that, you need to feel prepared, confident, and resolved. SAP absolutely, positively moves the world forward with its software, but that doesn’t happen without every single one of you. The stakes are just too high and that’s why ASUG is here. ASUG has your back.”

Quote of the day: “We’re doubling down on SAP HANA!” - Bill McDermott

Did you miss this year' SAPPHRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference? You can hear Hasso Plattner's explanation of the connections between SAP HANA and the cloud or hear from our day three presenters about how the future of technology is human. 

Register today for one of the 14 ASUG Pre-Conference Seminars scheduled for Monday, May 11, 2020.