COVID-19 has morphed into the biggest catalyst for business change since perhaps the inception of cloud-based computing. Findings from the latest survey of SAP user groups bear this out.

Seventy percent of members in the German-Speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) and 55 percent of members in Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG)  are in the process of or planning to implement SAP S/4HANA in the future. While respondents’ overall No. 1 ask was for fewer software customizations, with easier training tools ranked a close second.

“Companies in every industry worldwide have realized that integrated, cloud-based software is critical to business success,” said Eva Zauke, chief knowledge officer at SAP. “The near future will be a hybrid approach, where some workers remain at home while others are onsite. Employees need access to business systems wherever they are working, and software in the cloud and digital learning provide that flexible, fast access.”

Digital Learning Fills Critical Innovation Gap

It is no coincidence that SAP S/4HANA is the most popular topic across the company’s learning portfolio. As the core of SAP’s foundational vision for the Intelligent Enterprise, SAP S/4HANA is essential for companies that want to benefit from the latest innovations for business growth.

“SAP customers, consultants, partners, and students are using this time to prepare, learn, and educate themselves for this next digital era,” Zauke said. “Everyone — from technical administrators to business users — is eager to become proficient in SAP S/4HANA so they can apply it to help their companies become intelligent enterprises and realize the business benefits.”

Learners are realizing there is huge value in understanding SAP S/4HANA capabilities for both cost-effectiveness and innovation. SAP Training and Adoption offerings go the extra distance to help people make the most of these solutions.

“Customers are telling us they want to take full advantage of what’s standard in SAP S/4HANA and innovate on top where it makes the most sense for their company’s differentiation,” Zauke said. “They’re discovering how to embed advances like the Internet of Things, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence into their business scenarios to transform everyday processes into value and results.”

Well-Timed Training Pays Off

Demand for training on SAP S/4HANA is high among students, consultants, and SAP customers for many reasons. With some customer projects currently on hold or deferred, established consultants are using the downtime to get certified on SAP S/4HANA so they can be ready as the pandemic recedes. At the height of the crisis earlier this year, more than 6,000 academic students used free vouchers from SAP to get certified on SAP S/4HANA.

“For newly graduated students, learning about SAP S/4HANA is a career-building move, potentially giving them an edge with employers that need experts in the latest innovations for business growth,” Zauke explained. “Partners are taking SAP S/4HANA courses to prepare for the new normal once the pandemic recedes. They’re investing heavily in SAP certifications.”

The number of individuals certified in SAP S/4HANA has increased by 73 percent since last year, with over 110 experts certified each day. More than 74,000 — and counting —are currently learning about SAP S/4HANA and collaborating with coaches, trainers, peers, and other experts in SAP Learning Rooms for SAP S/4HANA. In just the first half of 2020, approximately 11,500 learners participated in almost 400 live sessions on SAP S/4HANA.

As for SAP customers, they can actually train employees directly from their SAP S/4HANA applications, which have embedded learning capabilities through SAP Enable Now. This is a boon to organizations likely facing continued remote working mandates. One large U.S.-based retailer, a longtime SAP S/4HANA customer, virtually trained its employees on in-store safety protocols in response to the pandemic.

“Training starts with the people involved in technical migration, such as project managers, administrators, and developers,” Zauke said. “In parallel, SAP customers train the business users to explore new functionalities, adapting the company’s business processes to become an intelligent enterprise using SAP S/4HANA applications and underlying technologies. This is where business innovation comes alive with new business models.”

Cloud is in Everyone’s Future

Gartner researchers recently categorized software as a service (SaaS) as the largest cloud market segment overall and predicted increased spending through 2020 and into next year. Indeed, 92 percent of DSAG members and 98 percent of ASUG members who have already decided in favor of adopting SAP S/4HANA are planning their projects within the next five years, promising business innovation that will last long after the pandemic.

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