Five global innovators took center stage during SAP Executive Board Member Scott Russell’s keynote at SAP Sapphire, showcasing how they were future-proofing their business with investments in SAP.

The companies were emblematic of the many customers at the event held last week in Orlando, and featured organizations of all sizes sharing business results from solutions that included RISE with SAP, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).

“For over 50 years, SAP has been there for our customers, adapting to ensure their success,” Russell said. “As we enter the next 50 years, we will continue to be your engine for business, bringing powerful, proven innovations that serve you both now and into the future. The reality is that future-proof can be built right into your business with SAP.”

Future-Proofing Businesses in the Age of AI | SAP Sapphire 2023

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Future-Proofing Businesses in the Age of AI | SAP Sapphire 2023

Whether companies are transitioning amid market uncertainty or are intent on getting ahead of the competition and being ready for fast-changing demands, Russell explained how SAP helps address top priorities: achieve business transformation at speed, gain easy-to-use innovations, and work with a trusted partner.

Here are highlights from the incredible journeys of three of these SAP customers.

Innovative Business Transformation, Cirque du Soleil Style

As a beloved entertainment brand with a 40-year history of bringing customers joy, Cirque du Soleil emerged from the pandemic reenergized with a vision for creative endurance in a changed world. Among the most delightful moments of Russell’s keynote was when he donned a clown’s nose at the behest of Cirque du Soleil Chief Growth Officer Nicole Tara Nickole, who joined him on stage to share how her company expanded its long-time partnership with SAP to future-proof the organization for the next 40 years.

“First, we are going to create performances in the Cirque du Soleil vision, but do it differently with more awe-inspiring immersive-style experiences that let people walk through it, touch it, and feel it,” she said. “Second, we are forging a digital connection with our audience to participate in a digital universe that we’re creating with Cirque’s passion and innovation. Third, we will show our customers and fans what we’re doing in communities worldwide to help better the planet and the world we live in.”

Nickole said that Cirque du Soleil was transforming in ways that will impact its millions of fans, creators, and performers who currently stage shows in 60 countries each year.

“We’ve come out of what was a dark era into one full of innovation and light — powered by technology, driven by our fans, and thinking about the future,” she said. “Looking at this global constituency of SAP, including customers, staff members, and fans, we’re so privileged to have partners like you. When we think back to our darkest days… SAP stood beside us. We are empowered by our partnership with SAP.”

HanesBrands Gets Closer to Consumers with Data-Driven Insights

Known and loved by consumers worldwide for iconic everyday apparel, HanesBrands is transforming its over 100-year-old heritage into a data-driven growth powerhouse. Chief Information Officer Subra Goparaju explained the company’s strategy to increase revenue, improve margins, and grow the business.

“Technology transformation is the foundation of our plan,” said Goparaju. “By consolidating our ERP system on SAP, we can reduce complexity, standardize business processes, and simplify business. SAP is central to our transformation journey, helping provide us with the business capabilities that a modern retail-centric organization needs.”

HanesBrands recently went live on RISE with SAP for the company’s flagship Champion brand, and Goparaju described how the “digital foundation with a technology spine” has already delivered results.

“Putting our entire technology footprint on RISE with SAP, a highly scalable platform, means that our ‘crown jewels’ now run with reduced disruptions,” he said. “We have clean, consistent data across the company, integrated omnichannel inventory visibility, and omni-commerce capabilities, helping us provide a better consumer experience… We’ve also enabled a global integration platform on SAP BTP. We’re excited about these business capabilities because the value they unlock will help us achieve our goals.”

RISE with SAP Accelerates Boom Supersonic

Boom Supersonic is among the SAP customers that are changing the world; in this case, by building the world’s fastest airliner designed to fly at twice the speed of today’s airliners and run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel. Although relatively small, Boom Supersonic partnered with SAP to power huge innovation — namely, manufacturing a commercial aircraft that could fly passengers from New York to London in about three hours. Russell welcomed Boom Supersonic Chief Information Officer Charles Valentine, proclaiming, “They’re getting good now so they can be great tomorrow.”

Valentine sketched out why his organization selected RISE with SAP to support the company’s mission in making the world dramatically more accessible. Having recently broke ground for a jet assembly plant in North Carolina, Boom Supersonic needed to jumpstart a modern ERP system before production began.

“This is a story of true scalability and knowing that we would need to depend on SAP in five, 10, and 15 years. What appealed to us was that we could get our feet wet with it, and as we grew, we could grow the license count accordingly,” he said. “We could change our internal processes to map to the industry standard… And we started the migration early in anticipation of the data we will be creating.”

Valentine described the tenets his team followed to go live with SAP S/4HANA Cloud in just 90 days, including out-of-the-box integration and a phased strategy: “We are focused on our mission to design and build a supersonic airliner, and every second we spend not 100% focused on that mission is wasted. We didn’t want to customize unless it gave us a competitive advantage to do so… We also need to rely on technology to take on as much of the busy work as possible, so we’re really embracing automation to support our growth.”

SAP: Trusted Partner for Digital Transformation

Emphasizing that SAP cannot rely on its history being the company’s future, Russell said that everyone at SAP earns the trust of customers every day.

“We know that these customer stories don’t just happen. It takes great technology and a partnership ecosystem that makes it come to life, along with a partner like SAP that will stand with them every step of the journey,” he said. “Every journey is different. Every path is unique, but the destination with SAP is secure. Trust us as your partner in the journey.”

“Whether your company is just starting out or has been on a journey with us for many years, we’re so excited to help you become future proof.”