At the age of 47, SAP continues to remain relevant in the technology arena today, either by acquiring other companies, or by producing transformational products such as SAP S/4HANA. The list of recent acquisitions—SAP Concur, SAP Ariba, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP CallidusCloud, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Hybris, and Qualtrics XM—continues to grow and expand on the solutions SAP offers.

Although new technology and software enhancements help us meet our end goals and do our jobs more efficiently, it also can highlight an experience and expertise gap. It’s not surprising that the newer the technology, the fewer experts that are available.

In fact, it usually takes several years for the user and consulting communities to gain enough experience to where there are enough resources to truly support the market. So, what do SAP customers do when there is high demand for expertise but a limited amount of resources? This is an evolution which SAP, its partners, and customers must continuously address.

Where’s the Skills Shortage?

One of the most in-demand skills set is around adopting and implementing SAP S/4HANA. SAP announced in its Q4 2018 filing that SAP S/4HANA adoption grew to more than 10,000 customers, up 33% from the previous year. With approximately 3,000 customers that are live, there is a natural and growing demand for expertise in this area.

There also is demand for expertise with SuccessFactors, SAP’s flagship human capital management (HCM) offering, which is localized in 94 countries and 42 languages. SAP reports more than 3,000 customers globally with 250-plus new customers in Q4.

Customer experience, led by SAP C/4HANA, is growing rapidly as well, experiencing more than 100% year-over-year growth. This is expected to increase even more with the acquisitions of Qualtrics XM and SAP CallidusCloud.

In Demand and On the Rise

With all this new technology and rapid adoption, there is even more competition for talent and a larger gap in the skilled workforce.

How do we plan for what’s coming next while acknowledging the challenges we face today? It can be a difficult task to plan for even one year ahead when it comes to SAP—let alone five or 10. What we can do is invest in the next generation with programs to organically grow and train the workforce of the future.

At AscendN, where I’m the managing partner, we’ve recognized this call and have set up a training and scholarship program for youth. We have teamed up with an incredible non-profit in San Diego called Urban Street Angels that focuses on helping the homeless youth population (ages 18-25), in hopes of ending youth homelessness.  


Answering a Call

Urban Street Angels has an extensive rehabilitation program, including health and wellness, as well as job training. It created an organic soap company within the organization called Eight West to provide work experience for the youth and to raise money for the charity. Eight West creates opportunities for the youth to gain experience in the workforce and to hone professional skills to succeed. AscendN supports the program through volunteer work, donations, fundraising, and by purchasing the soap to give away at ASUG events.

It’s not just about ending homelessness. The hope is to identify individuals early and train them to understand SAP technology. The participants in the program may not know exactly what area of SAP or technology they want to pursue; however, there are many SAP certification programs that could fit nicely into their strengths. The scholarship program will help provide opportunities and provide a pool of resources with niche SAP skills that are critical to thousands of businesses across the globe. Given the opportunity there could be the next Dietmar Hopp or Hasso Plattner waiting to be discovered. 

We realize that we still need to deal with the many challenges at hand, but if you have an opportunity to get involved in a project that will both benefit your community and fuel business innovation, we encourage you to do so.

Interested in learning more about the newest technologies in HR? Register for the ASUG Experience for Human Resources & Payroll on Oct. 16–18 in Toronto. Additionally, we welcome all ASUG members to submit their ideas for blog posts they want to write.