Today, the pace of innovation in technology is only accelerating. So too is the demand for maintaining up-to-date skill sets. With the move toward cloud and more frequent release cycles, we have seen a steady rise in the need for more regular IT training, along with a change in how companies approach learning and skill validation. What was once nice to have is now critical to business success.

The SAP Training and Adoption portfolio and its opportunity for certification are designed to meet the needs of today’s learners and SAP professionals with the understanding that the necessary skills for a given role constantly evolve. Built for practical and agile learning, SAP Training and Adoption fosters continuous learning and skill validation on the individual level to ultimately drive greater business impact.

Creating a Competitive Edge

Whereas years ago, a focus on learning and skill building ended as individuals obtained a college degree and entered the workforce, training today must be viewed as a dynamic, ongoing cycle. For successful digital transformations, companies must have skilled personnel. According to the World Economic Forum, “significant upskilling and reskilling” will be required for upwards of 54 percent of all employees by 2022. As Chopra-McGowan and Reddy stated in a recent Harvard Business Review report, this concept of reskilling implies “not only to learning job-specific technical skills but also to acquiring core competencies such as adaptability, communication, collaboration, and creativity.”

SAP has developed the SAP Training and Adoption portfolio to provide comprehensive support for new skill building, with user-centered experiences tailored to how individual learners learn best, anywhere at any time, as well as access to award-winning training for the latest SAP products, solutions, and technologies. An emphasis on incentivizing learners to obtain current, relevant content is also central to this learning resource. It includes learning sessions about upcoming offerings, training in-tandem with new software releases, and ongoing self-assessments.

SAP has long valued certification as a means of helping assure mastery of new skills, and indeed certification has become common across the learning landscape. A recent Pearson VUE study reported benefits of an IT certification, which extend to growth in career opportunities and earning potential. Among these benefits are a 35 percent increase in salary, a 28 percent increase in responsibilities, a 44 percent increase in quality work output, a 55 percent increase in the ability to transfer knowledge to work situations, and a 67 percent increase in self-confidence in using new skills.

What’s more, 91 percent of Pearson VUE’s survey respondents felt the value of certification to be greater than training alone, highlighting how the professional credibility in the workplace gained through certification is worth the investment. SAP Global Certification offers learners opportunities for a distinct competitive edge, featuring more than 150 specialized certifications and shareable digital badges representing an esteemed accreditation of excellence for IT professionals.

One student who participated in this year’s Digital Learning Offering for Academic Students and upskilled with SAP Learning Hub, thus achieving SAP Global Certification,noted that this “shows not only that I went above and beyond and earned an additional certification over my other students, but the certification shows I have a thorough and rigorous understanding of business processes.”

Continuing Advantage and Business Impact

As the former business theorist Arie de Geus said, “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.” The year-over-year increase by 122 percent in SAP S/4HANA courses on openSAP shows that organizations identified learning as a business-critical factor. The need to build, maintain, and validate SAP skills — such as those for SAP S/4HANA — in order to stay ahead of the competition has also grown significantly. We have seen organizations able to achieve a 10 percent reduction in deployment time per month on average because of better-skilled workers.

Companies like one of the largest lithium-battery electrolyte suppliers in the world, Zhangjiagang Guotai Huarong New Chemical Materials, seize opportunities for growth. To support these ambitions and help standardize processes, the company moved to an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in the cloud. With the help of SAP Learning Hub, the company equipped users with the right skills for their move to SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Further business advantages for organizations investing in SAP S/4HANA skill development can include a 20 percent reduction in support calls and critical tickets during the run phase in addition to well trained users impacting value drivers by 51 percent.

Professionals and future professionals continue to embrace SAP Global Certification for the value it provides in turning learning into achieving. Last year, SAP delivered more than 90,000 certification exams; compared to the first half of 2019, we have already experienced structural growth of approximately 50 percent. As of August 2020, SAP had delivered more than 93,000 SAP Global Certification exams, and approximately two-thirds of the participants achieved the certification.

As a signal of the increasing demand, when the company offered 2,000 free certification exams seats during the pandemic, every seat was booked within 48 hours. SAP then added 1,000 additional seats.

With the paradigm shift of fast-paced innovation and quickly evolving necessary skills, the time is now for acquiring crucial knowledge and the certification to back it up. As SAP Chief Knowledge Officer Eva Zauke has stated, digital learning and SAP skill building creates new growth opportunities by filling critical innovation gaps. Continuous learning to stay current is imperative “to address constant market changes, reach new customers, and drive product innovation.”

Beyond initial skill development, this requires SAP professionals like consultants to stay current with the pace of SAP’s rapidly evolving technology. SAP therefore offers specific “Stay Current” learning on SAP Learning Hub, allowing learners to regularly and continuously refresh their skills in an easy an efficient way without having to take much time off. Individuals that currently hold an SAP Global Certification in such fast-moving areas of expertise like SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP Ariba, are required to demonstrate their current knowledge by taking regular assessments, as a basis for keeping their corresponding certification current as well.

Through the enhanced SAP Training and Adoption portfolio, SAP is committed to motivating each learner to take the next step in their life-long learning journey—and in turn, move their company down the road to becoming an intelligent enterprise.

Stefan Haenisch is the senior vice president and head of Knowledge Transfer and Education at SAP.