ASUGFORWARD officially kicked off earlier this week with the ASUG Executive Exchange Virtual Summit. Featuring interviews with three key SAP leaders, these three member-only sessions featured Geoff Scott, ASUG CEO, interviewing Jan Gilg, president of SAP S/4HANA at SAP; Bob Stutz, president of SAP CX at SAP (customer experience); and Brian Duffy, president of Cloud at SAP.

The three conversations not only focused on the recent announcements coming out of SAPPHIRE NOW 2021, but also touched on how customers can begin implementing and leveraging these three key components of the SAP portfolio. Here are some of the highlights from Scott’s three interviews.

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA

In his first interview, Scott sat down with Gilg for a wide-ranging conversation that stretched from some of the new announcements and points of focus SAP unveiled last week during the Americas session of SAPPHIRE NOW 2021, to how the SAP S/4HANA road maps have shifted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gilg touched on the three main pillars Christian Klein, CEO of SAP; and Julia White, the new chief marketing and solutions officer of SAP, discussed during the SAPPHIRE NOW 2021 global keynote a few weeks before: the Intelligent Enterprise, networking, and sustainability. Scott asked Gilg how organizations can begin their journeys to become Intelligent Enterprises.

“We launched RISE [with SAP] trying to answer that question,” Gilg said.

He noted that SAP wanted to be more “prescriptive” and “take customers by their hands” so they can start along the path of adopting SAP S/4HANA and ultimately becoming Intelligent Enterprises. Gilg also touched on how modularization is becoming a key part of this process, since “a big bang is so hard to do.”

Gilg also gave an update on the current strategy behind SAP S/4HANA road maps, which—as Scott noted—have shifted over the course of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, Gilg discussed how SAP is heavily emphasizing SAP S/4HANA Cloud. He also talked about how his team is working to develop mobile capabilities and working to increase the interoperability of SAP S/4HANA.

Customer Experience in the Time of COVID-19

In the next session, Scott interviewed Stutz about the new developments with SAP CX. Two of the main areas of focus were SAP Upscale Commerce and Emarsys, an omnichannel customer engagement company that SAP acquired in 2020. Speaking about SAP Upscale Commerce, Stutz described the platform as a “modern, cloud-native, multi-tenet platform” that is designed for B2C (business to customer) operations.

Stutz also spent some time discussing how the SAP CX portfolio can help SAP users engage with their customers.

“The [SAP] CX portfolio has become even more critical to consumers at the end of the day,” he said. “It’s about engagement. If you are not engaged with your customers, your competitors are.”

When Scott asked him about the current trends he’s seeing that will impact the future of CX, Stutz discussed the continued importance of digital engagement, indicated that the SAP CX portfolio is moving in this direction.

“The problem with a lot of CRM (customer relationship management) systems is that the customer profile is static,” he said.

According to Stutz, the combination of the SAP Customer Data Platform and automation gives SAP users “a living, breathing online customer profile”—something that is “very important in the modern age.”

To the Cloud!

In the final session of the ASUG Executive Exchange Virtual Summit, Scott interviewed Duffy. Their conversation focused on the cloud—how it helps customers and how they can begin migrating.

“The path to implement and get live on the cloud can be exponentially shorter than what many [SAP customers] have experienced in the past,” Duffy said.

He noted that after implementing the cloud, customers are finding that future updates are going to be “smoother and quicker,” which will help them when they are in fluid, fast-changing situations (not unlike COVID-19) and need to pivot. He also said that COVID-19 and the pressure it puts on companies to adapt and change at a rapid pace explains the sudden interest and shift to cloud that SAP is seeing with some of its customers.

Throughout the interview, Duffy consistently told attendees to “slow down to speed up,” when it came to converting to the cloud. He emphasized the need for organizations to figure out their current systems and decide where they want their systems to be before beginning the process of migrating to the cloud. He also encouraged attendees to ensure that both the business and IT ends of the organization are part of this project.

“The move to the cloud represents transformation,” he said. “The business needs to be a part of this journey.”

Make sure to register for ASUGFORWARD, our flagship event featuring four days of SAP customers, experts, and partners discussing how organizations can continue to make the most of their SAP solutions. Join us June 2124.