SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2014 Kickoff Keynote – First Impressions

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP  intends to prove to SAP customers that they are now a "cloud company."

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP intends to prove to SAP customers that SAP is now a “cloud company.”

I must admit, it’s kind of strange not being part of the festivities in Orlando this week since I’m no longer with SAP.

I didn’t wake up early enough to catch all of Bill McDermott’s opening keynote, but reviewing announcements gives a pretty good idea where SAP is heading this year. This is interesting to hear given the recent departure of SAP HANA’s executive sponsor, former CTO Vishal Sikka.

  1. “Run Simple” is now a major new element being associated with SAP’s top line branding.  This is to counter industry belief that running SAP is a complicated.  It’s also a way for SAP to link business transformation of customer stories as proof points for this top line differentiator.  Operations of any large company are “complicated”, so I can see this resonating very well with business executives.
  2. “SAP Cloud” is the major new unified solution branding element that SAP is bringing to market – rolling up all their SaaS acquisitions and their organically grown SAP HANA, app hosting and platform as a service capabilities. They will use this to claim that everything is on the same “platform” powered by HANA, that includes app to app integration.
  3. User experience has always been a sore spot for SAP, causing them to invest in capabilities like design thinking services for customers, and various new UI technologies like Fiori and HTML5. They now allow usage of Fiori for free, not sure about other licensing terms. They also have an open source HTML5 toolkit, but that was out last year.
  4. SAP released “Simplified Financials” application powered by HANA, hosted in SAP Cloud as a SaaS. This is a revamp of SAP GL, and the major innovation is explained at the database level – HANA.  Because HANA can now calculate everything on the fly, redundant tables, aggregations, and materialized views can be removed.  One customer example showed an 11 PB ERP data store being reduced to 2 PB through simplification of schemas and compression in SAP HANA. The main business benefit is faster close. I don’t know exact release state of this app, but it’s been blogged about at SAP’s community site for a few months.  I wasn’t working with this product team at SAP, but I’m guessing it’s primarily aimed against WorkDay and their recently released financials SaaS offering
  5. SAP demoed an end-to-end M2M application example – predictive field maintenance. Technician wears goofy glasses that provide an interactive heads up display of real time machine status. As they perform tasks, they can trigger tickets in the HUD, status is updated in real time as are related items such as priorities and inventory.  Parts inventory is proactively re-ordered or positioned for technicians next task.

The more interesting HANA related announcements probably come in tomorrow’s keynote starring Hasso Platner. However it appears the whole focus will be SAP’s cloud and their future cloud-based HANA applications. I will be awake for this keynote!

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