Substantial efforts in the last year to increase brand awareness, heighten visibility, and ultimately increase SAP Signavio use are paying off, with new and longstanding SAP customers taking on the suite and attesting to rapid, positive results.
And while those efforts will only intensify this year, a highly enthused Rouven Morato, Co-General Manager of SAP Signavio, recapped recent progress and described strategy adjustments, expansions, and technology innovations that are in the works for 2023 in a recent ASUG interview.
An edited version of the interview follows.
Question: What you have been hearing from the customer base regarding their business and technology challenges currently and in the past year?
Answer: I think it's quite homogeneous across the world, to be honest. In North America specifically, we hear a lot about supply chains breaking down and having to find resilience. Climate change is another area; every customer now focuses on this, and we see the end consumers placing more value on sustainability. The pandemic also hit many companies hard.
The net-net is that customers all see the need for digital transformation to take advantage of digital business models and move toward more agility and the ability to adapt quickly and react to changes in the market. That has become more relevant for all of our customers.
At SAP and SAP Signavio as a business unit, customers are asking: How can we increase the utility of our overall organization? What do we need to build, given this? We call this the need to develop the ‘transformation muscle,’ which means that customers can continuously evolve business processes and how they interact with customers, production facilities, and the supply chain. How can they react faster? How can I react faster?
Customers understand this all relates to technology, the ability to change things
in your system and then change how people operate the system. We are at the center of gravity for this now with SAP Signavio. We see this in the context of SAP S/4HANA transformations in the market. Many customers are waking up and realizing that they have lost control, or at least partial control, around how they operate, and they don't really know what's happening on the ground anymore. How are people really executing their work? They are now trying to get their arms back around it, using transformation to define a new way of operating their companies. That's the net-net of what we see and hear in the market.
Q: Have any of those challenges, in particular, increased or decreased?
A: The supply chain remains relevant these days. With the war in Ukraine and inflation popping up, the need to react to market changes is extremely relevant. The pandemic challenges have reduced a little; however, I think the awareness remains high. People understand things like that can come back at any point and that they must prepare better next time. Now you know that this abrupt change can happen, and now it's your fault, as a senior leader, if your company is not prepared.
Q: In light of those challenges, from a business and technology standpoint, what have your priorities been in the last 12 months?
A: 2023 is a continuation of our strategy—nothing radically new is coming. RISE with SAP was a very big topic in 2022 and will remain a very big topic in 2023. However, we are adjusting our approach a little on RISE with SAP. The phase where customers need SAP Signavio is actually prior to RISE, prior to the implementation of S/4HANA, because our tooling helps customers understand the weaknesses in how they operate today and helps customers create the business case to transform. We help customers define the priorities in the transformation because we spotlight the process weaknesses and where they are. We analyze their current data out of their current system and help them define the way toward RISE, how to do it, what to tackle first, and where to improve the most.
That's why we are shifting the SAP Signavio focus to six to 12 months ahead of a RISE transformation, an S/4HANA implementation. Customers should be using Signavio to plan for this transformation, and then once the transformation starts, they know the exact processes they want to change: Where do I want to go back to standard; where do I need my special components; where are others better than I am; where should I change to something else that SAP has? We must complete that preparation work much earlier.
Q: Looking forward, what are the strategy highlights for 2023?
A: We are expanding beyond the ERP landscape, moving into the HR transformation space. With SAP SuccessFactors, if a customer moves from a non-SAP system or an on-prem HCM SAP version into SuccessFactors, we help customers analyze their HR processes and transform them. This has become a more important component. SAP Signavio Process Insights is also available for SuccessFactors during 2023.
Talking about product innovations, we are expanding on the technical components. For example, there will be a new SAP Solution Manager API so that [customers of] SAP Signavio and SAP Solution Manager can easily upload and download process models. This is very important for large customers in support of transformation. Many have built a big legacy of process models in Solution Manager. That was how IT departments did the process modeling on the IT side. But now there is Signavio, which is much more comfortable and user-friendly for a modeling environment. You need a kind of exchangeability between the Solution Manager and Signavio because that is the marriage between business and IT—right where the business is modeling its processes. A seamless link makes life much easier for transformation projects. This was the feedback we received heavily from our large customers in North America.
Q: Any other strategy or technical enhancements?
A: One, which is still in the early phase. But I want to share it with you because it's truly exciting. You might be aware of SAP Signavio Process Insights, the tool for ERP transformation, so you can get insights very, very quickly. In Orlando, at our event last year, we showed how the customer implemented it in 14 minutes live, on-stage. That's the fast side of the house.
What we are doing is expanding further so that you're not only able to see those process KPIs and the recommendations for improvement, but you can also derive the true process details and the different process flows out of that. So, in process mining, with those spaghetti diagrams where you see how the processes are flowing, with all the variant, that’s what we will also get out of Process Insights.
You can reverse engineer process models by that, which means within a few hours with Process Insights, you will get these nice, beautiful KPIs, you get all the variants of processes, and you will then see the process models that a customer has ‘as is.’ So next to these KPIs and benchmarks on where you're not so great we can put the best practices and tell the customers where they deviate from the best practices and highlight the weaknesses of the KPIs to the execution—how they're running it.
If you do this within a day, you can imagine how much this collapses the time spent to get an idea of where and how to start the transformation. We have customers who have done this type of preparation work for a year: just collecting the data on how they operate today, the performance of it, and understanding the models and the process flows. We can now bring this down to a few hours or days.
This will be an enormous impact on the market. It’s still in the early phase, but that will come in 2023. It will be a huge expansion of what we offer today with Process Insights.
Q: Any idea of general availability?
A: It's still too early to say. Process Insights, obviously, is generally available. This will be a kind of premium version. At Sapphire, we will probably have some beta versions. I would say [general availability is anticipated for the] second half of the year.
Q: An ASUG goal is to help our customers and members get the most value from their SAP technology investments. How do you and SAP Signavio aid and accelerate that?
A: We are a prime example of that because it's our exact mission. There's nothing worse than an IT implementation that doesn't drive a true process transformation because then you get the same—maybe a little bit faster, maybe a little bit nicer from the UI—but you get the same.
So, it's our mission to help our customers transform from how they operate today to how they want to operate, leveraging the latest SAP technology and non-SAP technology, of course. We have that at the heart of our end-to-end transformation suite. If customers apply it, then they clearly will see the benefit of having one suite that allows you to truly understand that end-to-end view of your processes—from your own data, from the KPIs, from the benchmarking, over to the modeling, to the comparison with best practices, and then downstream to the implementation. We are the umbrella around value realization out of SAP system landscapes.
Q: Is there anything else that you would want to convey to the ASUG community?
A: Maybe a few remarks about some customers. We are working with General Motors, right, which is a great example of how they operationalized their way of working using SAP Signavio. We are now fully embedded into the way they operate, with all the tooling that we have, from how they analyze and use workflows to trigger change and collaborate with the affected end users. It's a great example of how we can truly become part of how the organization operates, not a tool on the side that you look at every third Friday of a month. You want to be integrated in the way customers operate.
I recently did a little bit of a world tour and collected a few sound bites. One of the customers said when he looked into Process Insights for five minutes, he found improvement work for two years. It's so quick to see. But then you have a list, and you need to manage this work. That's where our end-to-end suite kicks in. It will tell them recommendations on how to improve. With the rest of the portfolio, the modeling, and the Collaboration Hub, we bring it to life and help them to do it right.
That's what I think would be great—if the ASUG community gets into that mindset of, if we want to become that agile organization, we need to understand that it's a combination of process, systems, and data. We need to get our arms around all of it. If we only implement SAP S/4 but don't truly drive transformation, it won't really bring the business value we expect. I know that a lot of customers have criticized SAP and asked where the value of S/4HANA is because exactly that happened. Customers just implemented S/4HANA and thought the value would suddenly come to their fingertips. That is nonsense; you need to adapt how you operate and work, and that's what SAP Signavio does.