From product strategy and technological capabilities, to the vital role of the SAP ecosystem and migration to volume business, no stone was left unturned. Tough questions about technologies such as on-demand, cloud computing, and in-memory, as well as the future of SAP Business Suite were quickly and confidently addressed with real world examples that will continue to position SAP as a trusted enterprise software provider with the innovative know-how to help customers succeed in a new business reality.
To help kick off the proceedings and properly frame the context of the summit, SAP executive vice president of Marketing, Jonathan Becher, hit upon key trends that are re-shaping the way customers conduct business and the way SAP will design its products.
Economic volatility, new technologies, networked business practices, rising customer power and sustainability and increased regulation are not going away any time soon, according to Jonathan, and as a result business will never be the same. Conservative growth is here to stay and the industry-at-large should embrace the fact that “the good old days” are gone. “The future of SAP is the future of business,” said Jonathan.
Building upon these themes, Executive Board Member Jim Hagemann Snabe said 2009 provided SAP an opportunity to show its strength in the face of extreme adversity. The launch of SAP Business Suite 7, the strides made with SAP Business By Design, the integration of Business Objects, and the evolution of SAP’s technology stack to be ready for cloud computing and in-memory capabilities were major company milestones, according to Jim.
“We believe that there is a new opportunity for extending the reach of type of applications that we are known for,” said Jim. “In-memory technology is a breakthrough. It’s not just about the fact that the database disappears but more about the types of applications you can build with instant response times with very large data models.” Based on column storage, in-memory technology eliminates the need for the cumbersome extract, transform, and load (ETL) process, and reduces system complexity as well as the number of database tables.
Jim also hit upon the following key strategies that will help SAP and its customers remain competitive:
- Scale the customer’s core business: Business Suite 7 and enhancement packages lower total cost of ownership (TCO). More than 3,000 customers use enhancement packages to consume individual enhancements without the need of installing the whole package.
- Innovate via extensions : Continue to deliver the best on-demand and on-premise extensions for customers, focus on next generation on-demand capabilities, and leverage the strength of SAP Business Suite.
- Extend customer’s reach: Bring the process and community worlds together through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The integration point between structured and unstructured data is a huge opportunity for SAP and an area of major investment.
- Orchestration : The world will not only run SAP and as a result, SAP will support lifecycle management, master data management, and process orchestration.
“What is it that makes SAP unique, with all of these solutions?” asked Jim. “It is the SAP fabric. It is the fact that when we design solutions – and in particular, because of the efforts of Vishal [Sikka] and his team – we are defining consistent blueprints along this notion of timeless software and cooperation between all of our solutions. This is important, because if we want to make an impact, then it takes more than just a collection of best-of-breed solutions; it’s all about making a fabric for each of the solutions that make them stick together.”
SAP Chief Technology Officer Vishal Sikka also supported the notion that timeless software will remain the enabling architecture for SAP in order to keep pace with four major industry disruptions: In-memory, cloud based consumption, pervasive connectivity, and interoperable components. To underscore these points, a compelling demo showcased the power of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and how it was able to crunch 275 million records in mere seconds by region, category, or year.
SAP Executive Board Member John Schwarz closed out the summit keynotes with a convincing presentation that proved how “SAP Delivers Value Through Sales, Service Support, and the Ecosystem.” John nimbly navigated through the markets SAP will pursue, its flexible delivery model, and pursuit of a successful volume business, closing his keynote by stating: “This is no longer your grandmother’s SAP.”