SAP recently announced that 10,000 customers now use SAP Cloud Platform to help them more easily build and integrate business applications.
I sat down with Björn Goerke, chief technology officer and president of SAP Cloud Platform at SAP, to find out why the platform has been so well received by customers, the challenges that still exist, and what’s next.
Here are three main takeaways from our discussion.
1. SAP Cloud Platform is the Foundation for the Intelligent Enterprise
At SAPPHIRE NOW in 2018, SAP unveiled its Intelligent Enterprise strategy, which brings new innovation like machine learning and blockchain to customers faster, and helps them better access and use enterprise data. Goerke explains that SAP Cloud Platform plays a central role in making the Intelligent Enterprise a reality for customers in two important ways.
“First, it brings together all of SAP’s cloud solutions into one product suite that customers can use to run end-to-end processes,” says Goerke. SAP Cloud Platform is the glue between those individual solutions. This is a big deal for SAP customers. Since the 2011 acquisition of SuccessFactors, SAP has been aggressively acquiring cloud companies building out its portfolio.
“SAP Cloud Platform provides an integration layer for applications from these acquired companies so customers have consistent and integrated data that’s not siloed, letting customers use those solutions together,” he says.
Second, the platform allows customers’ development teams “to build new solutions from scratch that help them with digital transformation.” Developers can integrate these new apps into SAP or non-SAP solutions because SAP Cloud Platform works with public cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, has open APIs, and supports open source coding languages.
For Goerke, all this adds up to faster innovation: “SAP Cloud Platform is an agile platform that lets our customers be agile. They can develop solutions incrementally, see if the solutions works with users, adjust the next iteration according to people’s feedback, and then quickly scale and bring innovation across their organization.”
SAP Cloud Platform has also changed how SAP innovates, allowing the company to deliver blockchain, machine learning, or SAP HANA-based applications to partners and customers more quickly and easily. “We used to deliver our innovation in quarterly or yearly cycles,” says Goerke. “Now we can do it every two weeks.”
2. The Time for Skepticism is Over — SAP Cloud Platform is Real
Despite the benefits of SAP Cloud Platform, there’s still some skepticism among customers. Goerke believes it’s time to put those doubts aside, and the proof is in the numbers.
“Now we have 10,000 customers on the platform to show that it’s real,” he notes.” It’s running in 17 data centers around the world. Customers use it for everything from application development to integration middleware to API management.” Currently, 5,000 customers use SAP Cloud Platform for API management, the protocols and tools that let applications communicate with each other — more than other application integration vendors in the market.
Goerke also describes the financial momentum behind SAP Cloud Platform. He says, “The product has been in the market for a while, and our yearly momentum is great. SAP Cloud Platform has added significant revenue to our cloud business.”
The reason for such significant uptake? Goerke says simply, “We solve real problems that customers have.” For example, Shell Aviation, the division within Shell Global that services airlines, uses SAP Cloud Platform to develop and run an airplane fueling app in airports around the world.
3. Customer Curiosity to Fuel Future Growth
SAP Cloud Platform has the potential to do great things. It can help make applications intelligent by allowing developers to embed machine learning or analytics easily in apps. Or it can be used to offer consumer-grade user experiences, including conversational interfaces that allow people to “talk with their ERP or CRM systems” using an Alexa-like tool.
But for Goerke, it’s how customers use SAP Cloud Platform that define its potential: “I want to encourage curiosity – give it a try and see what it can do for you. The platform is only as good as the creativity people bring to it. That’s what brings it to life.”