SAP used its first major technology announcement of 2021 to provide a thoughtful new approach to the way it guides customers through technology modernization using its platform, services, and tools.

The company calls RISE with SAP “a milestone offering to propel customers’ holistic transformation into [becoming] intelligent enterprises,” which at first glance obviously sounds somewhat broad-brush and nonspecific.

We all know that SAP’s “total briefcase” of technologies (some built in-house, some acquired) can at first appear to be challenging to navigate and integrate given the size, breadth, scope, and use-case implementations that they represent from data analytics, to enterprise resource planning (ERP), HR and experience management (XM), expense management, and almost everything in between.

Could RISE with SAP then be a reimagining of SAP Leonardo—not a platform in and of itself, but a set of guiding architectures, accelerators, and preconfigured headstarts, all served up with a dedicated SAP customer service representative? The answer appears to be—in the short term, at least—both yes and no.

A New Era for Digital Epiphanies

SAP is using RISE with SAP to explain, clarify, illustrate, and guide customers on their digital transformation journeys to a cloud-native epiphany with mobile-centric, analytics-fueled, automation-accelerated, all-round SAP S/4HANA-enriched goodness.

It also comes packaged as a subscription-basis offering that features one responsible party for service-level agreement, operations, and support. So then, although many of the same core technology mechanics here do already exist, given how tough 2020 was for everybody on the planet, SAP should perhaps be lauded for reimagining what has gone into building up this new total offering.

Freshly Baked Goods

SAP COO for SAP S/4HANA Sven Denecken is already on the record on TechCrunch saying that RISE with SAP isn’t necessarily about bringing rafts of new technology to the table, although that still is also an important part of what SAP RISE is intended to represent. But we will come onto Signavio shortly.

What Denecken and SAP CEO Christian Klein have alluded to with RISE with SAP is that this is an offering to guide enterprise organizations on their journey as they redesign and optimize business processes and look to identify, codify, and eventually implement the best practices based on trackable, quantifiable, measurable outcomes.

“Geopolitical tensions, environmental challenges, and the ongoing pandemic are forcing businesses to deal with change faster than ever before,” Klein said. “Companies that can adapt their business processes quickly will thrive, and SAP can help them achieve this. This is what RISE with SAP is all about: It helps customers continuously unlock new ways of running businesses in the cloud to stay ahead of their industry.”

New SAP Technology: Signavio

At its broadest point of definition, SAP describes RISE with SAP as “a holistic approach [that] will help companies truly transform their business,” which is somewhat generic in terms of language, especially given the scope of specific software mechanics inside the SAP platform itself.

The most tangible news here comes in the form of fellow German technology company Signavio, which SAP announced its acquisition of this January 2021. Signavio is a business process intelligence specialist, a key foundation technology for customers looking to “rise” (hence the name) up the scale of intelligent cloud and automation services now available.

Building Signavio’s business process intelligence and business process management into the existing SAP Business Process Intelligence unit is argued to enable customers to take a more accurate, granular, and controlled approach to design, benchmark, improve, and transform business processes across a working operational base.

Signavio’s cloud-native process management is essentially end-to-end; not that SAP’s wasn’t as such, but Signavio’s is perhaps more so, while also being process model-centric from the start. Its technology includes business process design, benchmarking, gap analysis, improvement, and process change management. The suite will also allow customers to monitor the long-run success of these process changes, and that all leads to the subject of “outcomes”—an SAP favorite, as we know.

In terms of what SAP is including in the RISE with SAP selection pack, there is access to the SAP tools and services support you would expect. There are also channels to gain what SAP has called “superior” low-code or no-code capabilities to extend SAP solutions.

While use of the label “superior” may not be a whole lot more than a marketing superlative, SAP has indeed extended its low-code/no-code offerings right at the start of January this year with its SAP Cloud Platform Extension Suite and related SAP API Business Hub and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offerings.

Also of solid substance regarding RISE with SAP is access to more than 2,200 application programming interfaces (APIs), to help ensure integration to on-premises, cloud, and non-SAP systems.

SAP has also stressed RISE with SAP as a route to unified access to its partner and associate business network, including SAP’s supplier, logistics, and asset intelligence networks, allowing companies to manage their complete supply chain to react faster to changing market conditions.

At a practical level, these are all eminently accessible tools, processes, protocols, and partner possibilities that ASUG members can start to access almost immediately. We can reasonably suggest that SAP’s technical dexterity, flexibility, and attention to detail are all suitably tuned to be able to guide ASUG users into new areas of technology implementation (business process intelligence projects being a case in point here) to bring new projects online.

Where RISE represents previously unexplored technology integrations, toolsets, and new types of workflow analysis, RISE with SAP consultants will need to come to the fore. It would seem logical to suggest that the company has only brought this offering to market once that support layer is in place, poised, skilled up, and ready to act.

A Woven Technology Fabric

Overall, we can see RISE with SAP as a combination of business process intelligence, technical migration services, as well as infrastructure operations layers, all woven into one subscription offering that customers can adopt with a single SAP contract.

As we start to get into the meat of RISE with SAP, it’s certainly clear that this is indeed more than just a “bundling and marketing” exercise. It is still a go-to-market strategy aligned initially towards a business audience of project leaders, Line-of-Business (LoB) owners, and divisional managers.

How it translates to operations staff from systems administrators and DBAs, to systems architects, and onwards to developers and programmers is another discussion. When we know more about whether RISE with SAP leaves a sweet or slightly sourdough taste in the mouth, we’ll take another slice and let you know.

ASUG hosted a variety of member-exclusive events focused on RISE with SAP. Register and watch the on-demand recording of SAP CEO Christian Klein’s conversation with ASUG CEO Geoff Scott.