More than 900 attendees representing about 600 companies and 54 countries gathered last week for the 16th annual SAP-Centric EAM virtual conference. Unlike past years, attendees weren’t able to congregate in conference rooms for this event, which focused on innovations in enterprise asset management and customer success stories. The conference took place completely online, during which registrants tuned in to all keynotes, fireside chats, and customer stories remotely. Through a series of sessions spanning two days, the conference armed attendees with vital insights and guidance to confront these uncertain times.

“I was thrilled that so many customers and partners in the EAM field took the time to share their lessons, listen to the presenters, and engage with their ASUG network during the two-day event,” said Geoff Scott, ASUG CEO. “Hearing from other customers and experts is what makes all the difference for SAP customers who are trying to get more value from their existing investments and determine an innovative path for the future.”

Expect—And Prepare For—the Unexpected

The event kicked off with a presentation from Kathy Pearson, strategic agility subject matter expert and senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She walked attendees through key ways managers can navigate the choppy waters that an event like COVID-19 creates. According to Pearson, the best way to confront a crisis is to prepare for anything.

“Strong leaders are the ones who say they don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but they are prepared for the unknown,” she said.

Mobile Plant Maintenance at Maple Leaf Foods

Throughout the virtual SAP-Centric EAM conference, attendees also heard from SAP customers who have successfully adopted the software company’s products and are using them to manage their assets and generate savings. Faye Cooper, director of asset reliability at Maple Leaf Foods, discussed how the company worked with SAP to develop an app to assist with its plant maintenance.

Maple Leaf, Canada’s largest protein company, wanted to close the stakeholder gap between plant workers and employees monitoring plant performance. The company engaged with employees in its plants to help develop a mobile solution that was easy to learn and use on the floor. Maple Leaf worked with Apple and SAP to develop the application, while SAP assisted with the back-end development of the app and how to roll it out to employees. 

The project is about halfway complete, with the app in the hands of 450 maintenance techs and supervisors across 17 plants in the U.S. and Canada. Maple Leaf is planning next to roll the app out to all of its 22 plants.

The Importance of Data Migration

Another customer story covered at the conference was Xcel Energy, which just went through a massive data migration to SAP from a variety of different systems it was previously using. Using the suite tools SAP offers for enterprise information management (EIM), Xcel Energy converted more than 300 million data records.

Jeff McDonald, data governance consultant at Xcel Energy, walked attendees through this process, which began in 2012 and continues in 2020. He also talked about some of the how companies can avoid hurdles in their own migrations.

“We were so concerned with building out a process and getting people to understand how data fit with their processes that we did a disservice to ourselves by not having a solid data strategy upfront,” McDonald said. “Going forward, I would recommend adopting a strategy before working on the other pieces of data migration.”

McDonald highlighted the importance of establishing an executive support structure and data governance roles in an organization, creating standard data governance documents, and developing concrete metrics and KPIs. Above all, he encouraged attendees to think about why they were going through this process before beginning.

“It’s really important to understand why people are doing data governance in their organizations,” McDonald said. “For us, it was all about ensuring our data was formally managed and can be trusted for business decisions.”

Innovations in the SAP EAM Portfolio

The conference also featured SAP product experts, who walked attendees through some new developments within the SAP EAM portfolio. These innovations make use of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to give users a clearer picture of how their assets are performing.

Rachel Romanoski, SAP solutions manager of digital assets at SAP, explained to attendees how SAP S/4HANA can help users maintain assets in a more precise manner. For example, the platform can capture labor, cost, and materials necessary for asset maintenance. SAP Asset Manager shows users labor time, inventory on hand, and real-time information on current operating conditions, all in an easily accessible mobile format. New analytics are now embedded in SAP S/4HANA that give specific reports on an asset’s performance and allow users to drill down into the information being captured in the ERP system. 

The New Normal for Enterprise Asset Managers

While COVID-19 is disrupting our lives, there are still ways we can adapt to the crisis. With the insights gained from the SAP-Centric EAM conference, attendees can help fortify their businesses against these difficult times.

“I hope that the live event as well as the on-demand version will provide some certainty to SAP EAM customers now living in an uncertain world,” said Scott. “Together—as a resolute and resilient EAM community—we can forge a successful path forward for all organizations.”

Tune in to watch the complete SAP-Centric EAM virtual conference online until May 1, 2020.

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