Over the past year, SAP has introduced a lot of innovations and programs to its partner network. At the SAP Global Partner Summit in June, the software company unveiled the SAP Partner Delivery Quality Framework, aimed at improving and increasing the number of partner implementations and applications with SAP solutions. In October, SAP followed up its Global Partner Summit with an online event focused on what is coming for SAP partners.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved together to support our customers,” said Karl Fahrbach, chief partner officer at SAP. “In many ways, the pandemic is just an accelerator for change.”

The event—which featured IDC and SAP professionals laying out what the future looks like for SAP partners and introduced research focused on growing market opportunities—gave attendees a glimpse at how SAP will continue assisting its partners to drive customer success.

The Growing Cloud Market for SAP Customers

One of the most significant portions of the online event was the research SAP conducted with IDC, which originally looked at opportunities available to SAP partners, with a focus on the workforce. “We want to focus on the workforce because we wanted to know how much the ecosystem was going to grow,” John Scola, global VP, GTM cloud channels at SAP, told ASUG in a recent interview. “We want to start to giving our partners some guidance about how their workforce is going to grow, and where they should be recruiting. How do they prepare for this huge expansion of revenue opportunity?”

These plans had to adjust as COVID-19 began its march across the globe. IDC and SAP decided to keep their focus on the shifts in the workforce, but also give partners a glimpse at what the coming months hold for them, as well as for customers. One of the most significant findings from the research was in cloud market growth. According to the study, there is an estimated $204.4 billion cloud market opportunity for SAP between now and 2024, representing 68% of the total net-new opportunities for partners. What’s more, because of this increase in market opportunity, the study estimates that employment in the SAP ecosystem will rise from 1 million employees in 2020 to about 1.6 million by 2024—some 280,000 of which will come in the form of new consultants.

Targeted Cloud Investments

“What we see here is that customers are getting used to this ‘new normal,’ and they are moving forward with targeted investments,” Steve White, program VP of channels and alliances at IDC, said in an interview after the event. According to White and Scola, these investments are a combination of customers recognizing the ease that cloud access grants operations, along with customers continuing their planned transition to the cloud. Scola also believes that the data indicates to customers that they are on the right path.

“This means for those SAP users who have started their journey on digital transformation, they’ve made the right choice,” he said. “And I think that for those [customers] who are on the sidelines and waiting to make that move, now is a great time to be working with SAP and its partners to consider how they can start to dip their toes in the water.”

Development and Learning Resources for Partners

The event also featured SAP leaders discussing ways the software company is helping partners by providing resources that help them develop better solutions for customers. This ties in with SAP’s LACE (land, adopt, consume, expand) go-to-market model it is using to attract and retain both partners and customers. In a session focused on how partners can take advantage of SAP resources to help drive business to customers, Steffen Burger, SVP of partner enablement at SAP, and Hans Georg Uebe, global head of ecosystem delivery success at SAP, walked attendees through some of the resources available. The two encouraged SAP partners to increase the capabilities of employees and develop new service offerings.

“You as a partner need to think about how to drive continuous innovation and improvement to customers,” Uebe said. “How do we help the customer continue to leverage the software and take it to the next level?”

SAP Learning Journeys and Innovation Toolkit

One of the assets the Uebe and Burger discussed was the SAP Learning Journeys. These online resources include digital learning opportunities, e-books, and online classes covering a staggering number of topics. Many of the journeys are geared specifically toward consultants and partners and are aimed at helping to equip users with the skills and know-how to bring more value to SAP customers. According to Burger, SAP has “harmonized” all of the learning journeys while also adding applied skill workshops. “Partners can now hit the ground running when they meet customers,” he said.

Also mentioned in the event is another great resource available to SAP partners: the innovation toolkit. This initiative helps partners shape and implement a culture of innovation, placing a particular focus on “processes, people, place, leadership, and technology.” It helps partners apply Design Thinking and enterprise architecture to projects as a way alleviate some of the complexities associated with digital transformation. “We are working on the different stages of exploring, discover, design, and deliver in a very iterative model and starting with a human-centered approach,” Anja Schneider, SVP and global head of customer innovation, technology, and innovation at SAP, said in an interview with ASUG. “We are combining Design Thinking with the methodology of enterprise architecture.”

The toolkit provides access to tools that help foster an innovative work culture that rewards creativity and innovation in IT strategy. “The innovation toolkit helps with mastering the innovation SAP is driving at, while also giving hands-on experience with concrete action,” Schneider said.

The Importance of Unified Data and the SAP Business Technology Platform

Schneider finished the event with a session devoted to ways SAP is helping partners further innovate in the SAP ecosystem, especially around new business revenue streams and business models.

It’s a crucial part of the SAP Intelligent Enterprise strategy to provide customers and partners with the SAP Business Technology Platform—which Schneider described as “one single foundation stretching across the entire intelligent suite.” This platform connects SAP solutions with business processes, applications, and specific technology such as database management and data analytics into a seamless experience. Customers can leverage both SAP and non-SAP data sources as they try to integrate solutions or extend their business processes in both hybrid on-premise and cloud landscapes.

SAP's One Domain Model

There are also specific qualities aligned to this such as the One Domain Model, one workflow inbox, unified user experience, and more. Moving forward, the One Domain Model will make it easier for partners to develop solutions to help SAP customers integrate and extend their businesses processes, while simplifying the flow of data for customers. Schneider spoke at length about the SAP One Domain Model—also known as the “lingua franca” on the integrated intelligent suite. An important part of the SAP cloud strategy, the One Domain Model ensures seamless workflows between SAP and partner solutions while keeping business objects aligned across all applications.

“If you want to run end-to-end analytics and make sure that you can adapt processes at an early stage, you need to overcome the data and application cycles,” Schneider said. “This is required across enterprise usage of data if you want to create new business models.”

The One Domain Model is vital for partners as they try to extend their solutions and implement them into the SAP ecosystem because it allows a “harmonization” of data. Schneider noted that this will help break down data silos and ultimately improve the experiences of both SAP customers and the partners serving them.

Overall, the SAP Business Technology Platform will be highly relevant for the ecosystem going forward, as it provides the technology layer integrating and enabling technologies and applications to gain maximum business value out of enterprise data across enterprise processes end-to-end. “The Business Technology Platform is the strategy and a portfolio,” Schneider said. “It is also the foundation of the Intelligent Enterprise.”

Read an interview with Hans Uebe and Cathy Daum about the SAP Partner Delivery Quality Framework.

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