Last week in Barcelona, during SAP Sapphire in 2024, I had the honor of inviting several SAP customers on stage to share their stories of business transformations. One of them was Rob Coombe, CIO of Royal Eswatini Sugar (RES). He spoke about his company’s journey in the public cloud and how it has enabled them to adopt a company-wide digital mindset, save 14% to 18% on their costs, and attract new graduates to work in their remote operations, among other benefits.  

But what struck me the most was his simple answer to my question about his advice for others in helping them make the case for change. He said, why change? This is the wrong question to ask. The better question is, why not change?  

RES’s story and the many others shared by SAP customers at SAP Sapphire Orlando and Barcelona reminded me of an essential truth about business transformations in the age of generative AI. While the solutions and technologies are impressive, the stories of business value and business results matter the most.  

During those two weeks, SAP showed over 25,000 customers, partners, analysts, and media members, both on-site and online, how we support businesses to bring out their best. We announced new AI-embedded solutions within our apps, including expanding our generative AI copilot Joule throughout our enterprise portfolio, and expanded collaborations and partnerships with AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud, Meta, Mistral AI, and NVIDIA to deliver even more value for our customers. 

SAP Enters into Agreement to Acquire WalkMe

We also announced our intention to acquire WalkMe with its state-of-the-art digital adoption platform. Along with SAP Signavio to manage processes and SAP LeanIX to manage enterprise architecture, with WalkMe to guide user adoption we will soon have a best-in-class transformation portfolio and help our customers maximize the value of their cloud investments with SAP and continue driving tangible results for their business. 

When it comes to the value our customers are getting from our solutions, the stats don’t lie. For example, customers who chose RISE with SAP have outperformed the market in revenue growth by 7%. Solutions like Taulia are helping businesses unlock the power of their working capital to fuel growth and drive innovation, with customers seeing their free cash flows improve by more than US$1 billion. 

When we look across our total customer base and our entire portfolio of solutions, over the coming years we expect to see our customers experience approximately $2.4 trillion in economic savings, around $5.4 trillion in increased revenue, and a double-digit increase in their employee satisfaction, allowing them to retain talent and reduce churn. 

But my favorite part of SAP Sapphire every year is hearing customers tell their stories in their own words. To me, that’s the real magic of SAP Sapphire.  

In Orlando, we heard from Brian Hardee of PureTech Scientific about the impact the public cloud has had on helping them scale up quickly as a standalone business, especially in the life sciences industry where data is everything. Jeff Lischett of Tropicana Brands Group talked about how RISE with SAP gives them newfound speed and agility from a modern ERP to drive growth and set themselves up for success with business AI. Ingo Elfering of Fresenius spoke about the company’s technical implementation of RISE with SAP and how it’s given them simpler processes and a modern base for innovation and change. Takuya Sakai of Hitachi High Tech talked about the value that operating from a clean core has for their business by helping them simplify their processes and gain a competitive advantage.    

Then, in Barcelona, Elisabet Braza Valle of González Byass talked about how her nearly 200-year-old company, famous for producing sherry in Spain, is giving back to the land by putting sustainability front and center at every stage of its operations, thanks to SAP solutions. Özlem Altinişik of Martur Fompak talked about their RISE with SAP implementation, which they called Project Inspire because they saw the offering as a platform for growth and continuous improvement for the future. Ashish Agrawal of KONE spoke about how their embrace of a clean core has enabled them to adopt standardized processes as part of their transformation.   

These are just a small sample of the value stories shared during SAP Sapphire. Most importantly, they show that businesses bringing out their best isn’t hypothetical; it’s happening every day. And in the age of business AI, it is just the tip of the iceberg for what will soon be possible for every business. At SAP, we remain steadfast as we did 52 years ago, to do our best in enabling our customers, partners, and teams every day to bring out their best!  

Scott Russell is chief revenue officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.
This blog also appeared on Forbes.

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