According to Albert Einstein, “Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” He had a point! The same is true of business.

SAP Sapphire: Taking Business to the Next Level in the Era of AI

Successful businesses keep moving and evolving, especially in times of rapid change and macroeconomic uncertainty. And given the current volatility, business transformation is no longer optional; it’s imperative.

Knowing this, we launched RISE with SAP in 2021 not as a technical IT migration approach, but as a comprehensive solution designed to drive broad business transformation. With 6,000 customers having selected RISE with SAP, we know we cannot stop moving either. And I was thrilled to share at SAP Sapphire this year how we are taking the RISE with SAP experience to the next level and improving services and delivery for customers end-to-end.

Here are some key takeaways.

Evolving How We Engage with Customers

Navigating the transformation of today’s complex system landscapes and business processes is like orchestrating a symphony with countless instruments and moving parts. To succeed, we need to keep refining our engagement approach to better manage the intricacies of our customers’ complex architecture at an unprecedented level of detail.

To this end, we’re making a lot of changes in how we engage with customers, including strengthening the role of the enterprise architect (EA). The EA harmonizes all elements and guides the customer throughout their cloud journey.

Enhancing Methodologies

We know the biggest challenge for any cloud transformation is to make the system landscape more agile and enable innovation — quickly. We’ve been listening and have introduced solutions. For example, our RISE with SAP Methodology is a significant step forward in creating a consistent experience for all RISE with SAP customers, independent of their individual cloud journeys. Now, a dedicated enterprise architect guides customers through the RISE with SAP Methodology to enhance onboarding and provides transparency throughout the project with key milestone checks, q-gates, and checklists that ensure consistent quality and more predictable timelines throughout the implementation process.

This new offering is included in our SAP RISE Migration and Modernization program, which is designed to give customers the confidence to migrate even the most complex ERP systems to the cloud. By enabling our customers to integrate and extend SAP S/4HANA with a clean core approach, we ensure our customers experience better maintainability and lower total cost of ownership.​ Because legacy ERP systems often carry technical debt and, let’s face it, code is also a liability not just an asset. The more code you have, the more you have to optimize, debug, and modernize. And this is something we all need to actively work against.

Introducing Partner Training and Validation

We are also making it easier for RISE with SAP customers to identify partners to help with complex SAP S/4HANA Cloud transformations. It is essential for our partner ecosystem to follow the RISE with SAP Methodology as well. For customers to onboard successfully, there needs to be a close alignment between SAP, the customer, and implementation partner. This is why we are training and validating partners to use the RISE with SAP Methodology and will collaborate closely with partners to provide consistency and quality.

We are also introducing the RISE with SAP Validated Partner recognition, which verifies a partner’s adherence to the RISE with SAP Methodology and our q-gates, giving businesses the confidence to know that they are fully leveraging the potential of cloud-based innovations from SAP. Almost 90% of all SAP implementations are overseen by partners, so training and validating them is a key part of our strategy to ensure consistency and quality for customers.

Building a Seamless End-to-End Tool Chain

As a former SAP CIO, I’ve felt the challenges (and pain) of large-scale transformation. I know the pressure CIOs are under to show tangible business outcomes quickly. It’s why true business transformation requires a holistic approach, not a simple technology lift and shift.

We deliver the most complete business transformation suite in the industry. With the range of capabilities on offer today — including SAP Signavio, SAP LeanIX, and SAP Cloud ALM solutions as well as SAP Business Technology Platform — we have an amazing set of tools to bring out the best in businesses. Now, we are bringing them more closely together as one end-to-end seamless tool chain to make it easier to manage the process, system, and data landscape holistically.

With our recently announced agreement to acquire WalkMe, we plan to further strengthen our ability to deliver successful business transformation across applications, processes, systems, and people. ​WalkMe will help us incorporate user-centric adoption, enablement, and productivity capabilities alongside our Business Transformation Management portfolio of SAP Signavio and SAP LeanIX solutions. And WalkMe’s AI capabilities will complement our process AI with user intelligence, improving the capabilities of our generative AI copilot Joule to help people get work done faster.​

SAP Business AI: New Frontier for Business Transformation

In 2024, SAP Sapphire has been an opportunity for us to showcase how we are introducing in a new era of optimized business operations, with all the IT complexity concealed behind intuitive, AI-powered user experiences.

We highlighted the progress we are making embedding Joule throughout our enterprise portfolio and the enormous potential we see for AI to support both customers and partners in their RISE with SAP journey. I was thrilled to announce that starting in Q4 of 2024, customers and partners can leverage generative AI-powered assistance for their RISE with SAP clean core success plan.

We are also bringing new consulting capabilities to Joule, aimed at simplifying SAP implementations for partners. The new consulting capability draws insights from SAP product documentation and the SAP community to provide consultants with vital information and is planned to be available in the second half of this year.

Business Transformation: More Than an IT Project

At SAP, we understand that true business transformation is more than an IT project. It requires a holistic approach and not a simple technological lift and shift. That’s why we are putting the people, methodologies, financial incentives, tools, partner practices, and SAP Business AI in place to ensure our customers not only have compelling reasons to move to the cloud, but also a compelling experience.

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Thomas Saueressig is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE leading Customer Services & Delivery.

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