Had someone asked me during the early days of SAP’s industry cloud which among the roughly two-dozen industries we serve would provide the most fertile territory for our partners to innovate with cloud-based apps, I’ll admit the utilities sector may not have landed near the top of my list.
But with so many new partner-developed apps moving through the industry cloud pipeline and to SAP Store lately, I’ve learned not to underestimate how compelling the opportunities are for partners to commercialize new use cases to extend SAP’s portfolio of solutions for utility customers, nor how open those customers are to moving business processes to the cloud.
The volume of utility-focused apps produced via industry cloud, and the speed at which they’re being commercialized, underscores several noteworthy trends for SAP partners:
- There’s vast white space within the utilities product road map for partners to turn their intellectual property and use cases into solutions that generate new revenue streams and customers.
- That white space continues to create huge opportunities for SAP partners to enhance and extend SAP solutions in the utilities sector by developing their own solutions using SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).
- Partners are taking advantage of the plentiful resources SAP’s industry cloud offers to help support and expedite the commercialization process.
Let’s first talk about white space. Our product road map for utilities has plenty of it, along with a flexible framework to accommodate partner innovations that lead in exciting and sometimes unexpected new directions. That’s all by design. We’ve realized that to give customers exactly what they need to thrive, it’s often better to let our partners use their expertise to augment the SAP portfolio with solutions they develop themselves, with assistance from us where and when it’s needed.
That could include extensions and enhancements to SAP Utilities Core, a solution that is ripe for further innovation by partners. A glance at SAP’s industry cloud solutions for utilities shows development opportunities for partners in areas like enterprise asset management, digital supply chain, e-mobility, and a host of other areas. With industry cloud, we’ve embraced the spirit of co-innovation, as evidenced by the close to 50 apps and solutions that are now part of the industry cloud for utilities portfolio, many of which were authored by SAP partners. A new generative artificial intelligence (AI) solution from SAP partner AppOrchid that enables people to query their data and get instant contextual answers is one of many examples from the partner-powered wave of innovation on the utilities side of industry cloud.
We’re actively encouraging partners to get involved in the co-innovation effort because with the new partner-friendly revenue models we’ve incorporated into industry cloud, there’s a strong business case for them to do so.
Further strengthening that business case are all the resources SAP is dedicating to support partners in the effort to identify and monetize their use cases for the utilities market. We’re making it easy for them to access resources and guidance at any point in their industry cloud journey, from onboarding through commercialization, closing deals and completing customer implementations.
To help speed the commercialization process for partners, we’ve developed programs like SPRINT1, where we invite partners to submit use cases, then support chosen use cases with resources and guidance so they can quickly bring them to SAP Store. We’re currently in the midst of our third utilities-focused round of SPRINT1, the previous two having yielded a variety of new apps from companies like AppOrchid, Utegration, EnergyOS, Infosys, and others.
After interviews, our panel chooses use cases based on their commercial merit. Those chosen partners then participate in a week-long bootcamp run by SAP Co-Innovation Lab, where partners can receive technical advice and individual support. Next comes the “sprint” to the finish line, with regular check-ins, progress reviews, and additional support from SAP. The final step is onboarding to SAP Store, again with expert guidance from SAP.
Not only do we plan to offer additional rounds of SPRINT1 for utility solutions, we’ve also developed an “Espresso Sessions” series, where individuals in the field and SAP customers can learn more about specific partner-developed solutions and industry cloud opportunities within the utilities segment – in under 30 minutes.
As evidenced by resources like these, we’re highly focused on giving partners what they need to make their engagement with industry cloud worthwhile. To learn more about utilities-specific development opportunities and how to access the aforementioned partner resources, please contact me or Thomas Mueller.
Christopher Pfendner is PES global ecosystem lead for Utilities and Energy at SAP.