Kerri Tenbrunsel, SVP & GM of SAP BTP North America at SAP, will be among the first speakers to welcome attendees to the ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA® and SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) conference this month.

To be held March 7–9 at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa in Glendale, AZ, the event will feature a full slate of customer-led sessions and hands-on demonstrations structured to offer a 360-degree view of the SAP ecosystem while addressing the most critical challenges faced by SAP partner and customer organizations and their teams.

At her keynote session, titled “Activate the Power of SAP BTP to Accelerate Innovation,” Tenbrunsel will share the stage with Karthikeyan Neelamegam, Senior Director of EA at Florida Crystals, and Matt Goldsby, Director of IT at Swift Prepared Foods, both of whom will discuss their transformation journeys with SAP BTP.

Presented in conjunction with an SAP announcement, the keynote will reflect upon the capabilities of SAP BTP to accelerate innovation and unlock business potential across an entire organization, with Tenbrunsel also providing her view of recent customer progress around configuring SAP BTP.

In an ASUG interview, Tenbrunsel discussed the state of SAP BTP adoption and consumption, as well as the surprises and misconceptions customers are encountering along the way.

This is an edited version of the interview.

Q: What are you most looking forward to addressing through this keynote?

A: What I'm most excited about is that it is such an incredibly exciting season right now for SAP Business Technology Platform. If you look around you in the world today, with the change and the intention for transformation, with the challenges our customers face both within their own organizations and externally with their end customers, and with the economic challenges. We’re really facing more challenges than ever before. What is so exciting right now is that BTP is based on driving transformation, agility, flexibility, and optimization—no matter the season. That’s the standard platform. To bring that platform together with all of the challenges that are happening in the world—having the right solutions at the right time—is powerful.

So often, in today's times, our customers understand that they must transform. We're seeing more of those transformations happening now than ever. Three to five years ago, people saw transformation coming but didn't know how to transform. Here we are now, in the middle of the transformation. To be in the middle of such a significant moment and then to have solutions that can help empower organizational agility for our customers is incredible. If you look at the history of SAP over the course of 50-plus years, you can expect that SAP is going to bring not only a point of view but also experience and knowledge. I think what I'm most excited about is that what we have to talk about is so relevant to the issues that our customers face today. That’s pretty powerful. You don't get those moments too often, and we certainly have one of those moments right now.

Q: Your co-speakers include Matt Goldsby of Swift Prepared Foods and Karthik Neelamegam of Florida Crystals, two customers with SAP BTP transformation success stories who can speak to activating the power of BTP within their own organizations. Broadly, how would you assess customers’ progress with BTP these past few years?

A: BTP has been on a journey. Just a few years ago, there was a lot of asking, “What is the Business Technology Platform?” We spent a lot of time talking about what it is, explaining how its strengths lie in its solutions, and how BTP is relevant for any prospect or customer, whether SAP or non-SAP, no matter where they are in their journey, be it on-premises or to the cloud. We were initially evangelizing the brand, helping people understand that BTP is so relevant to locking down a platform that is flexible, efficient, and effective. Customers now say, “Okay, I know what it is, but how does it work? Where do I start?” Customers say, “Okay, I'm interested. I understand what it is. Now, I need to understand how to make it relevant for my business, based on where we are.” When you bring SAP S/4HANA into the conversation, it really comes alive. The power of bringing BTP together with SAP S/4HANA, and the predefined content that comes along with that, is unstoppable, all the while going back to the key principles of creating an efficient and effective platform, driving data insights, and providing intelligence. You can have software solutions that stand on their own, and that's great, but when you can really bring them together, that's when you can see that transformation taking place. It’s an exciting place for the portfolio, but it’s quite the journey that we've been on.

Q: How significantly did your observations at last fall’s SAP BTP Summit, specifically around the kinds of questions customers were asking, inform the message you plan to deliver to attendees at this next SAP S/4HANA and SAP BTP Conference?

A: Quite a bit, actually. There’s so much technology out there. And it’s clear that the hearts and minds of the customers, in many ways, are overwhelmed with their options. At the same time, at the technology layer, how do they create environments that can efficiently scale and run when there are so many options out there? If you think about a car that’s going to drive down the street, the car, in our case, would have an SAP S/4HANA engine, and it has four wheels in order to get from point A to point B. When it comes to BTP, you can use our wheels, or you can use somebody else’s. The fact of the matter is that you’ve got to have four wheels that will drive your data management strategies, that will drive your analytics approach, and that will drive your business process automation.

Whether it’s SAP BTP or somebody else’s wheels, customers are confused about who they should use, why, and when. We capitalize on “BTP Everywhere,” the idea that we can have a conversation with any customer or prospect, no matter where they are in their transformation, whether they're SAP or non-SAP. That’s powerful because not everybody can say that, and not everybody has the predefined content we do for SAP S/4HANA. Even when it's not an SAP S/4HANA conversation, such as when it’s perhaps an SAP Cloud discussion, the fact that we can integrate with other non-SAP environments is where we see that effectiveness. We want to make sure that, when you’re driving that car, you have SAP BTP wheels on it because we know the power of integration and application development and how critical that is to standardizing application changes at the lowest level. Customers are just so curious to understand, “Where do I start? How do I begin? Here are my challenges. Where’s the biggest bang for my buck in driving efficiencies?”

Q: What are customers most surprised by these days concerning SAP BTP?

A: Most customers are surprised to find that they already own a portion of SAP BTP. I don't think people realize that. SAP has historically been an on-premises company, and we are the masters at selling software. We take pride in our culture of sales excellence and the ability to drive business value for our customers. But, as you move into the Cloud model, it becomes no longer about selling the software. It becomes about adopting the software and consuming it. Adoption is leveraging software to solve a business challenge and to drive value. On the consumption side, that’s saying, “We believe in this as part of our organizational change, and we're going to help to consume that adoption.” That ultimately leads to the software sales side of it all. What customers are surprised by is that, as we focus on that adoption and consumption, they already own portions of the Business Technology Platform.

Remember, there are four key pillars for SAP BTP: data management, analytics and planning, application development and integration, and then our artificial intelligence and business process automation. Especially if you're talking to an SAP customer, they probably have a slice or two of our SAP Analytics Cloud. They probably have some data archiving, or data management, from us. We just made some new announcements with SAP Build, an incredibly exciting opportunity to allow the average business user to be a developer and have the power to innovate on an application layer. How many times, as a user of anything, even as a consumer with a commercial-grade app, has that been possible? You think, “This would be great, if I could do this.” SAP Build puts that power in the hands of business users. There’s a shortage of developers globally. SAP’s commitment is to help drive the adoption of SAP Build and to put the power of innovation in the hands of that business user. That’s magnificent, really.

They’re surprised they have some of these solutions in their wheelhouse. As part of our adoption and consumption, our focus for 2023 is to get out there and start with, “What do you already have, and how are you using it? Are you getting the value out of it that you anticipated? What other value can you derive from the investments you've already made? And then, how does that lead to making additional investments?” Adoption and consumption are key, but it starts with identifying what it is that someone already has. Customers are also surprised to find that the BTP environment crosses those four key pillars. Somebody who has some data management portfolio or runs on the SAP S/4HANA database, somebody who's driving the analytics piece, is surprised by how easy it is when you plug all this stuff together. It’s a start-anywhere capability.

Q: Another element of SAP BTP is that, within its focus on efficiency, this platform has the power to embed sustainability into a company’s business DNA, as well as to establish more reactive and resilient supply chains.

A: Sustainability is the use case that BTP has been waiting for. We don't get out in front that often; we drive most of what we drive behind the scenes. SAP Build is bringing us to the forefront, putting application enhancement capabilities in the hands of a business user. But when we look at sustainability, it’s the most powerful use case in the world today; regulatory requirements are sweeping the globe, which will require companies to provide regulatory information relative to their consumption. For us, it’s a massive use case for the Business Technology Platform, leveraging SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, and SAP Sustainability Control Tower. It’s a very shiny, impactful use case, and we couldn't be more delighted to have the power of SAP BTP running behind something as important as sustainability for the customers that we can reach. You'll see more on sustainability from SAP coming in 2023, as well.

Q: Last question. Reflecting on your role at SAP, what achievements are you most proud of from this past year?

A: I love my journey, and I feel very responsible for helping empower others to listen to their own journeys and create a path that can be rewarding, in terms of technology. Whether speaking to women in tech or to younger generations about how to chart their careers, I feel blessed and honored to have the role that I have—not only as the head of BTP. With our transformation at this moment in time, to be able to impact and affect the world's largest, most impactful customers and to do so for a 50-year-old company like SAP, I feel incredibly honored to do that.

I feel honored to be a leader at SAP, to be out in front leading our own transformation. We’re turning the Titanic from an on-premises and ERP environment to the Cloud. I can not only say I was there, but I can also say that I had the honor, responsibility, and accountability to lead teams directly into that transformation. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the excitement on our customers’ faces and to hear the stories of how this technology has transformed what they do within their companies. That’s all just unbelievable.

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