SAP executives and industry experts gathered last week to discuss the company's cloud ERP strategy, the evolution of RISE with SAP, and what's next for artificial intelligence during "Rise into the Future," a one-hour virtual broadcast that zeroed in on the latest cloud, AI, and ERP innovations. 

ASUG attended the event, which featured several updates and announcements around SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition, as well as the company's latest use of generative AI. Below, our top takeaways for members:

1. SAP’s introduction of Joule, its new digital assistant, was the highlight of the event, and indicative of SAP’s commitment to leveraging artificial intelligence to enhancing its solutions.

Through Joule, customers will be able to work “across business systems and get work done faster, using natural language,” said Julia White, SAP Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer and a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.

White added that “Joule will also work within your business application and provide contextual assistance in the flow of your work, helping you navigate, understand and deliver outcomes faster.”

SAP announced plans to first embed Joule within SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP Start later this year, also embedding Joule within SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition early next year. SAP Customer Experience, SAP Ariba solutions, and SAP BTP will follow, with SAP planning to eventually embed the "natural language, generative AI copilot" across its entire cloud portfolio.

Joule marks a significant step in SAP’s journey toward integrating artificial intelligence across its offerings. While specific details of Joule’s capabilities are forthcoming, we expect to hear more in the coming weeks. 

For now, this announcement demonstrates SAP's recognition of the importance of AI in driving innovation, improving business processes, and meeting the evolving needs of its users. SAP is expected to announce further AI innovations in the coming weeks, meaning Joule can be understood as just a taste of things to come. 

2. As SAP moves to a two-year S/4HANA Cloud major release cycle, RISE with SAP continues to play a pivotal role.

White also announced updates to RISE with SAP, related to this year's release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition; SAP S/4HANA 2023 is set to be released Oct. 11. According to White, "as part of RISE with SAP, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition, will now follow a two-year release cycle," with innovations and enhancements coming via feature packs every six months, with seven-year maintenance.

White said that maintenance for each release will be guaranteed for seven years, as opposed to the previous five, in order to provide customers with more value in their existing and future investments. 

Rucha Nanavati, Chief Information Officer of the Mahindra Group, shared on the broadcast how RISE with SAP has been essential to transforming her business. Among the value unlocked: faster time-to-market, enhanced customer experience, improved employee experience, and a modernized and more scalable tech stack, as well as improved ESG capability. 

Ajit Kumar, CIO of HCL Technologies, also shared that HCL's RISE with SAP migration has not only enabled them to deliver a more scalable architecture to the business, but has also improved resilience from a cyber perspective. "The single biggest change for me," added Kumar, "has been the time and the ability to focus more on the challenges that face the business and how technology can address it, as opposed to having to focus on typical, everyday technology issues."

SAP delivered updates alongside real-world examples of how businesses have benefited from adopting RISE with SAP, underscoring its commitment to this solution. Customers still have questions about RISE, recent announcements, and how they can apply these within their own businesses, but the key takeaway from this event was that SAP's commitment to the solution means that it's still seen as a foundational piece of the company's cloud ERP strategy.

3. SAP's commitment to artificial intelligence aligns with the growing importance of AI in the business world.

Joule builds upon existing SAP investments in artificial intelligence; over 26,000 SAP cloud customers currently have access to SAP Business AI through various scenarios and partner solutions. And White asserted during Rise into the Future that customers’ ERP can become “true systems of intelligence” with the introduction of SAP Business AI. 

According to Jan Gilg, President and Chief Product Officer, Cloud ERP, SAP Business AI has been designed to allow customers to “streamline processes and get results quickly, while providing the best customer service.”

SAP is uniquely positioned to help businesses harness the potential of this transformative technology. Ritu Jyoti, GVP AI & Automation for the IDC, noted that the IDC projects generative AI adding nearly 10 trillion to global GDP over the next 10 years. By providing AI-powered solutions and services, SAP can help drive innovation, improve decision-making, and deliver better business outcomes for customers, but the company can also contribute to driving substantial economic growth.

4. SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2023 is a "go-to release" at the center of SAP’s cloud ERP strategy.

SAP executives also touched upon SAP’s overall strategy for the future of ERP. Eric van Rossum, Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer for Cloud ERP at SAP, shared that SAP’s four pillars for delivering cloud ERP are "collaboration, intelligence, network, and sustainability." 

Those pillars are guiding the development of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition; van Rossum noted that the 2023 release can be seen as SAP’s “go-to release," stating that, with this new release and its updated innovation cycle, customers should see even more benefits for moving to the cloud.

5. Sustainability continues to be a focal point for SAP.

Gilg detailed SAP Sustainability Footprint Management, which is now available to customers and leads into the next phase of SAP’s sustainability evolution: the green ledger, which brings ledger-based accounting to carbon data. “With SAP Sustainability Footprint Management, carbon emissions can be calculated and managed at a very granular corporate process and product level,” said Gilg, adding that customers can also “integrate this information directly into core SAP S/4HANA business processes."

Gilg announced that SAP is working on a way to use this footprint to post a true emission journal entry through the green ledger. Such a solution would align both financial and environmental data, allowing organizations to measure and manage their environmental impact. Gilg stated that SAP believes this will be “a real game-changer,” noting that this would “make sustainability more than just a matter of compliance, but also of real competitive differentiation.” While this feature is still in development, SAP plans to make it available in future releases.

Such enhancements underscore SAP’s commitment to integrating sustainability into solutions and services. By enabling organizations to make a more stated environmental impact, SAP clearly seeks to contribute to a more proactive, responsible approach to sustainability in business.

SAP customers and partners must now evaluate how these updates and announcements align with their technology roadmaps and business objectives. ASUG can play a pivotal role in helping customers get answers to their questions. Please reach out with your thoughts or questions on the recent announcements at

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