Cloud, CRM and data were the key topics covered in the opnening keynote of SAP CEO Bill McDermott. [shutterstock: 422705047, Beer5020]
[shutterstock: 422705047, Beer5020]
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Key Takeaways From SAP SapphireNow 2018’s Opening Keynote

When you enter the stage to a Kanye West song, you have big shoes to fill as an entertainer. Find out for yourself if SAP CEO Bill McDermott and his team were able to deliver.

According to SAP CEO McDermott, this Sapphire is the Sapphire of superlatives. Not only is it the biggest and the best, the bigger it gets the more fun it should also be. We may have a different interpretation of the word “fun”.

Another letter for S/4 Hana

After Leonardo last year, this year’s Sapphire is all about the customer experience and squeezing value out of data to build the ultimate, intelligent enterprise. SAP’s new Customer Experience Suite C/4 Hana aims at making this customer experience as enjoyable as possible while also making life easier from a business perspective.

As SAP was quick to point out, C/4Hana is not a new product by itself, but rather a combination of various existing SAP solutions. SAP Marketing, Commerce, Service, Customer Data and Sales Cloud are the pieces that are to usher in a new generation of CRM, with SAP Sales Cloud uniting Hybris Revenue Cloud and Hybrid Cloud for Customer.

Value from data

Another bundle of solutions, titled SAP Hana Data Management Suite, aims at facing the challenge of distributed data in enterprises head-on. Based on the latest versions of the Hana Business Platform, Data Hub and SCP’s Big Data Services, this new bundle aims at orchestrating data from machines, people and various other locations into a unified landscape. With GDPR coming into effect on May 25th still in our rear-view mirrors, SAP was quick to point out that privacy obviously comes first – a topic the presentation unfortunately did not deliver on.

We so far know that the new bundle offers to keep data at it’s source during the orchestration process and then adding the business context on top, however, existing and potential customers will have to wait for further details to emerge on how exactly end-to-end processes from sales to demand are to be secured and made GDPR compliant in practice.

Cloud hell

Existing S/4 Hana customers that are operating (or intend to operate) on-premise, may have felt particularly left out of this presentation, as everything we have seen so far focuses on cloud-based solutions. While the new CRM and data management solutions can be operated in AWS, Azure and GCP, the lack of information regarding availability of the new solutions for on-premise deployments appears particularly short-sighted in light of possible tensions between GDPR and the US Cloud Act.

It’s safe to say that SAP surely would prefer to have their customer’s data in their own cloud rather than at Amazon, Microsoft or Google from an earnings perspective, future incompatibilities in this area could however de-facto leave SAP customers stranded with only one choice for cloud deployments on the one hand and on-premise customers excluded from innovation on the other.

Ecosystem who?

Despite CEO McDermott mentioning the well-established and functioning SAP ecosystem multiple times during his presentation, the trend towards integrating out-of-house solutions into SAP’s product portfolio continues. Live CPQ demonstrations with visualization may be impressive from a technical point of view, however efficient solutions have been available for a while from SAP partners, to provide just one example. Sapphire may be getting bigger every year but the list of partners will actually get smaller if this trend continues.


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