SAP Mining and Metals Forum 2014 – Journey to the Cloud

Taking an industry-specific look at SAP innovations, the SAP Mining and Metals Forum 2014 gave customers insight to optimize operations, gain agility, and define their journey to the cloud.

The SAP Mining and Metals Forum 2014 opened in Darmstadt, Germany, on October 8 amid an atmosphere of renewed optimism for an industry that has had to cope with the challenges of commodity price pressures, deep operational cost cutting, globalization, and a volatile mergers and acquisitions landscape. While the global pressures on the industry have remained much the same as they were during the first such SAP Forum event, held two years ago in the Germany city of Mannheim, this year there was a sense that IT solutions were finally delivering much-needed innovation to these industries.

Throughout the panel discussions, workshops, and keynotes, SAP customers shared their stories about how they were implementing the latest SAP innovations in their businesses. Among partners and SAP experts, there was a sense that business was moving forward. Cloud solutions were a dominant topic (see SAP newsbyte).

“Yesterday we had sessions with the Executive Advisory Council on Metals and Mining, it was quite surprising for me how many of our clients already have the cloud approach incorporated in their IT strategy,” said Eckhardt Siess, global vice president, Industry Business Unit (IBU) Mill Products and Mining, SAP. “We have a number of players in the mining and metals industry who are using today cloud solutions, either in a public way or in a hosted environment.”

From Far and Wide, Customers Gather in Darmstadt

This year’s SAP Mining and Metals Forum was held October 8-9 at Darmstadtium, in Darmstadt, Germany, near the campus of Technical University Darmstadt. Named for a chemical in the periodic table, Darmstadtium seemed a fitting venue for the event. Even the conference rooms were named after such metals as titanium, palladium, platinum, and vanadium, while the building itself provided an interesting atmosphere with its hyper-modernistic architecture.

Many of the approximately 350 people who attended the event traveled from such far distances as Australia, South America, South Africa, and China. Siess emphasized the importance of the event for SAP customers in the mining and metals industry. “I think one of the big advantages for the customers here is to understand what we are doing in regards to cloud technology, what kind of solutions we bring into the cloud and at what time,” he said. “Of course we need to translate this for our customers, what does this mean for their business – putting the industry agnostic approach into an industry context. This is very important for the customer. At the same time, it’s very important for us to learn what our customers are doing, where they have needs.”

Run Simple in an Industry Context

In his opening keynote, Peter Maier, general manager, Energy and Natural Resources Industries, SAP, provided an industry-specific context to SAP’s Run Simple message. As he brought customers up to speed on the evolution of the SAP portfolio and strategy roadmap, Maier underscored the advantages of SAP HANA. “It’s one platform; we are not replicating data from one area to another, which also helps you dramatically reduce the TCO,” he said. “This is really how we will simplify over time our roadmap.”

Maier outlined the four areas related to the mining and metals industries that SAP will focus on: sales and supply chain management, plant and asset management, optimizing mine operations, and sustainable customer relationships. Key cloud initiatives from SAP that are of interest to these industries include IT/OT convergence for redesign of processes, asset information network, total workforce management, and procurement network.

On behalf of SAP, Maier gave a commitment to customers on the topic of globalization, a very important issue for many in the audience: “Wherever you go, SAP is with you.”

Customers Move Ahead with Cloud, SAP HANA, and Beyond

SAP customers presented their strategy roadmaps and recent project successes. Tenaris, a maker of high-quality line piping for use in such challenging environments as Arctic and deep sea exploration, detailed how it aligns IT with business strategy. The company is moving 80 percent of its business processes to the cloud and is exploring new technologies like wearable IT safety glasses for field personnel.

ArcelorMittal Mining presented a series of projects it is working on based on a foundation of cloud solutions and SAP HANA. “The use of cloud solutions and infrastructure is an increasingly important way to support our mining business,” said Hervé Legrand, CIO, ArcelorMittal Mining. “ArcelorMittal Mining’s IT strategy is to manage all SAP applications from the cloud using SAP HANA. This successful six-month project was the first step; it gave us automated reporting and faster access to high quality global data, which is helping us to make much faster business decisions.”

“We are beginning our cloud journey with quick wins that combine consumer-grade experiences and functional capabilities,” said Peter McLure, CIO, MMG Limited. “Because SuccessFactors is easy to customize, we were able to lift and shift a paper-based process. Our employees find SuccessFactors software intuitive, and managers can focus more on developing our employees and growing the business. The benefits and scalability of a cloud solution are both clear and evident.”

Darmstadt by Evening: A Mix of Jugendstil and Barock 

In between sessions, attendees were able to walk the exhibition floor, meet with SAP partners, and watch demos on SAP Fiori and augmented reality solutions from SAP, like drones and smart glasses.

The event wound down with a tour of Darmstadt’s unique architectural highlights. Attendees were invited for a buffet dinner and evening of networking, amid big band sounds from the SAP Band.