The video that played at the start of the SAP TechEd 2019 opening keynote in Las Vegas concluded with “We live in the experience economy. Be the experience company. Experience Management is here.” And that perfectly set the stage for the comments that followed over the next hour and a half.
First to take the stage was ASUG CEO Geoff Scott who urged the crowd to act contrary to the old saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and be sure to bring the knowledge gleaned — about SAP TechEd’s hot topics of innovation, integration, and roadmaps — back to their organizations and share those insights to help themselves and their peers succeed. Scott then welcomed the main keynote speaker, SAP Chief Technology Officer Juergen Mueller, who is responsible for managing SAP’s overall platform for technology and development and leading the integration and innovation agenda, including the SAP Leonardo suite of intelligent analytics, machine learning, and Internet of Things technologies.
Mueller, who formerly held the role of SAP’s first Chief Innovation Officer and made his debut as keynote speaker at this year’s SAP TechEd, began his address by reminiscing on where his interest in computer science began. He shared one of his earliest programming memories of helping to create an automated ERP system and searchable web portal to improve the experience for those in the photography space. Then he proceeded to echo the statements from Volker Hildebrand, Global Vice President, SAP Customer Experience during a recent interview for an SAPinsider article on closing the customer experience gap.
“I firmly believe only companies that deliver great experiences will thrive over the next few years,” Mueller said. “Great operations are nothing without a great experience. With the intelligent enterprise, SAP offers all the solutions needed to bring operations and experience together. With solutions for operational excellence, which resides in operational (O) data, and with the addition of Qualtrics, we can also help capture experience (X) data to understand the sentiments and preferences of customers.”
Joining Mueller on stage was John Thimsen, CTO of SAP Qualtrics, who discussed experience management (XM), the Qualtrics XM platform, and how the combination of SAP and Qualtrics help customers to create perfect experiences. “Companies must be able to interpret and analyze X data and understand its relationship to the O data, and the Qualtrics XM platform contains the capabilities that allow them to design, operate, and evolve XM programs – where they listen to real people, analyze the results, and take action on the insights gleaned, which means following up on the feedback to let them know you’re listening,” he said. “With that as a foundation, we can deliver applications that can allow our customers to identify and close experience gaps.”
Attendees saw a live demo of Qualtrics XM that showed precisely why customer demand for a product was shrinking due to some severe negative sentiment regarding the product features. The demo went so far as to show simulations of how demand would change with new features as well as how to scan through permutations to find the one that best maximizes demand and the customers’ willingness to pay.
SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Cloud Platform, and More
It’s not only about user experience, according to Mueller, but rather it’s about functional enhancements, analytics, functional integration, and driving harmonization though the intelligence stack. “SAP is at the forefront of infusing intelligence in enterprise applications, and data is the foundation for everything we do,” he says. “No company has data completely under control, and my goal is to help customers find the fastest way to turn data into business value.”
During intense discussions with more than 250 customers this past year, Mueller discovered four main areas where companies are struggling and need help:
- Database and data management (moving away from data silos)
- Application development to extend solutions (integrating especially in the cloud)
- Analytics to make more confident decisions (achieving one source of the truth)
- Intelligent technologies (filling a lack of data science expertise in-house)
In direct relation to these challenges, SAP offers technologies (both on premise and in the cloud) that can help. “SAP Analytics Cloud is the go-to solution for data visualization, artificial intelligence (AI), predictive, and planning,” Mueller says. “With the November 2019 release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Analytics Cloud will be embedded free of charge, providing a link of insight to action that has never been there before. We are also building bridges to help our tens of thousands of on-premise customers building hybrid solutions on the way to the cloud. We have more than 2,000 customers in beta with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, which was launched at SAPPHIRE, working on data modeling and data integrity. We have also provided incremental updates to SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory that have made a huge difference in how easy it is to create extensions that connect to multiple SAP applications.”
Another live demo from the exhibit hall showed how connecting SAP Cloud Platform to SAP S/4HANA Cloud with an integration token was as easy as pairing a mobile device in a car. In building extensions and integrations, SAP supports hybrid scenarios for customers running SAP ERP or SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA via SAP Cloud Platform Cloud Connector. Many customers working with multiple cloud strategies wonder if they can mix and match services from hyperscalers with services that SAP provides, according to Mueller. And the answer is “yes” they can. “We put in a lot of work to define and provide a reference architecture for building applications using SAP technology, and we assessed all hyperscaler services out there,” he said. “We white-listed the services you can leverage with neither the fear of being locked out of SAP innovations nor the fear of being locked into a particular hyperscaler offering, and that should give customers a lot of security.”
SAP is committed to partnering with hyperscalers to better serve SAP customers, and sometimes even competitors can develop solutions that work better together. One example is SAP’s partnership with Microsoft, and Mueller invited to the stage the Head of Cloud and AI at Microsoft, Scott Guthrey, who shared joint customer case studies of companies (such as CostCo, Coca Cola, and Daimler/Mercedes Benz) that successfully moved SAP workloads to run on top of Microsoft Azure.
For more on the happenings at SAP TechEd 2019 or to watch replays of the keynotes, lectures, and interviews, visit here.