SAP CEO Christian Klein: When People and Technology Meet, Amazing Things Happen

SAP CEO Christian Klein kicked off SAPPHIRE NOW Reimagined with a sweeping vision for a safer, healthier, and more prosperous future driven by the intelligent enterprise.

“I’m asking you and all of us to become resilient, sustainable, and profitable companies,” he said. “Together, as intelligent enterprises, we can turn the world’s biggest challenges into our greatest opportunities. The recent pandemic is a crisis that will drastically impact societies and business for months and probably years. Digital transformation is no longer an option, but a must.”

Klein brilliantly brought the intelligent enterprise to life, spotlighting SAP’s newly launched Climate 21 program for sustainable and profitable business, as well as the company’s industry cloud for vertical solution co-innovation. Joined by customers and experts during the virtual broadcast, Klein reaffirmed SAP’s commitment to customer success, as well as partnerships with customers like Porsche for business adaptability and growth.

SAPPHIRE NOW Reimagined is a digital program of livestreamed and on-demand broadcast channels featuring senior SAP executives, customers, solution demonstrations, and experts in 14 languages across regions worldwide.

Building a More Sustainable, Profitable Future

During his opening keynote, Klein shared how companies using technology to adapt supply chains and automate for new digital business revenue streams were more competitive before the pandemic. They were also emerging more resilient after the crisis. Pointing out that increasingly companies were measured on both their financial performance and contribution to society, Klein saw business and society at a turning point.

“Just like we cannot ignore the pandemic… we cannot ignore climate change and the major contributions of enterprises,” he said. “Together, we can lead this change and become intelligent enterprises, to make sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable. With our new Climate 21 program, we will support all of our customers to become sustainable companies by building analytical and transactional capabilities [to track greenhouse gas emissions] into our core business applications. It is a huge step in taking climate action.”

SAP as Trusted Partner

While Klein acknowledged that SAP’s more than 400,000 customers did not question the company’s ability to generate business outcomes, he said what they needed was a trusted partner to help in their digital transformation. He explained how the SAP solution portfolio reflected the intelligent enterprise vision, based on integration, innovation, agility, and speed. This included how the integrated intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite connected end-to-end business processes — finance, human experience management (HXM), customer experience, spend management, and supply chain — for more informed decisions.

“No other company is more experienced than SAP to transform your business, because we have been doing this for almost 50 years,” he said. “Our product strategy has one goal: to be the innovative and trusted partner for your holistic business transformation.”

Klein showcased how the open Business Technology Platform with embedded analytics and real-time reporting was the technical foundation of the intelligent enterprise, allowing an ecosystem of partners and customers to integrate with SAP and non-SAP applications and data across hybrid landscapes to extend and create innovative business applications.

Industry Cloud for Vertical Differentiation

Emphasizing the importance of partners, Klein explained how the industry cloud supported the development of cloud-native applications for differentiating business capabilities, powering the “fourth industrial revolution.”

“We will partner with our ecosystem to gain broad coverage across all industries… because you know which industry best practices matter most to you… Business processes and steps have many dependencies,” he said. “Only SAP can bring together all this data of the many stakeholders in one business network, allowing you to manage all these dependencies in real time.”

Partnership with Porsche Drives Results

While it might seem counterintuitive to hold up the automotive industry as an innovation leader during the pandemic, Lutz Meschke, CFO of Porsche, discussed how his company’s partnership with SAP was instrumental in helping both organizations usher in a new era of digitalization.

In Porsche’s case, the innovations included electric vehicles, automated driving, new services, and digital sales channels.

“The pandemic showed us insistently how important it was to act with a sustainably profitable strategy… and to work with a resilient supply chain,” Meschke shared. “We see a unique opportunity to become a completely digital company… We believe in strong partnerships, like our strategic partnership with SAP, driving forward co-innovations and jointly delivering new solutions for our digital transformation.”

Meschke said that Porsche is putting data at the “heart of everything” for decision-making backed by master data governance. Using SAP Digital Boardroom and SAP Analytics Cloud, Porsche will have one integrated reporting system across its application landscape.

Data Fuels Circular Economy

Meantime, Klein detailed SAP’s vision for the intelligent automotive company, taking viewers on a data-driven electric car buying and ownership experience from customized configuration through delivery and beyond. In this future, data provided an informative window into the customer’s entire driving experience, during a car’s lifetime and even after. Businesses could provide new services to customers, cities could increase road safety, and car manufacturers could make continuous improvements in a perfect rendition of the circular economy.

Amazing Intelligent Enterprise Journey

Klein closed his keynote with a heartfelt pledge of SAP’s commitment to its customers, and a resounding call to act.

“We want to serve you with the best possible business outcomes to help you quickly adopt and get the most value from our solutions to ensure your long-term success,” he said. “Together, we’ve embarked on the journey to become intelligence enterprises. We have come a long way already, making a significant contribution to growth while acting sustainably. Let’s show the world when people and technology meet, amazing things happen.”


Watch a replay here.


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