Technology has woven its way into every aspect of our lives. It drives us to embrace constant change and be flexible. The same can be said for SAP Cloud Platform — change is not always visible but happens constantly. With more than 13,700 customers, it is one of the fastest-growing products in the history of SAP.
Last year at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP introduced the Intelligent Enterprise, for which SAP Cloud Platform plays a key role as an important pillar of SAP’s digital platform. Our goal is to provide a business technology platform to our customers that allows them to focus much stronger on their business, rather than on the technical building blocks.
At the beginning of 2019, I was honored to take over the leadership of SAP Cloud Platform. Since then, I’ve sharpened our focus toward evolving SAP Cloud Platform into a business technology platform. Here, I outline some aspects and examples of this evolution.
SAP Cloud Platform is the integration and extension platform for SAP, with a rich set of business services. It’s a business technology platform because we provide our customers with the tools and business services needed to solve business problems efficiently.
As an integration and extension platform, SAP Cloud Platform provides enterprises with the flexibility and speed in the development of business applications as customers and employees demand better experiences. The desired outcome for our customers and partners is that they can easily extend SAP’s intelligent suite with their own unique and innovative capabilities and at the same time integrate them seamlessly with third-party solutions. The result is the ability to build new applications that have a high impact on business processes.
SAP is renowned for its business process excellence. In my opinion, SAP is unparalleled in its business process knowledge. SAP Cloud Platform endeavors to distill decades worth of SAP’s rich business problem-solving experience in easy-to-consume offerings. What do I mean by this? Consider an important business requirement, such as regulatory compliance. For enterprises wanting to be compliant with the new Pan European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) requirements in the European Union, SAP has a new document compliance offering for this multi-national commercial invoicing and tax reporting platform. SAP now offers a version of document compliance (e-invoicing) with certified, PEPPOL-compliant functionality, together with the new SAP Cloud Platform e-invoicing option for PEPPOL.
Not only will we continue to enrich the platform with more services like these, we will also offer master data services that customers can use to centrally manage their master data. The SAP Cloud Platform Master Data service for business partners provides reusable master data services on SAP Cloud Platform as a source of access to business partner master data and addresses integration-related requirements.
The delivery of integrated business processes is a top priority for SAP. Customers want to easily discover SAP’s business processes, configure them, extend them to their own needs, and run and continuously optimize them. We term this process dexterity as “live processes,” which allows enterprises to discover business process in SAP API Business Hub to explore integration and extension options for processes, configure process templates and recipes for flexibilization and extensions, while adding out-of-the-box process visibility and intelligence on top.
Our business process management portfolio enables the management of such “live processes” in the Intelligent Enterprise with services such as SAP Cloud Platform Workflow and SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules. Using SAP Cloud Platform Workflow, customers can orchestrate their business processes, covering application-embedded workflows, orchestration workflows across systems, and process extension workflows. An event-driven architecture provides the needed underlying flexibility.
Consider a business process such as onboarding new employees, implemented via SAP SuccessFactors software. Key users in human resources desire the flexibility to configure the processes for different target groups of employees in different countries. SAP-delivered standard workflows will provide well-defined extension points for partners and customers, in order to add custom process extensions. Thus users can add their own employee visa validation or background checks or even branch out to a custom process to order specialized IT equipment. Today, customers like Delivery Hero — 2019 winner of an SAP Innovation Award for Process Innovator — already leverage our workflow service to manage capital expenditure. This will be extended to handle invoices, manage investments and assets, manage master data, and approve travel expenses.
Extending such core business processes to differentiate against competition is also possible when customers want to reuse their ABAP assets and use the expertise of their ABAP developers. SAP is fully committed to ABAP, and as ABAP continues to evolve, customers would like to build cloud ABAP apps that extend standard business processes with innovative cloud services. The SAP Cloud Platform, ABAP environment, enables customers to move their existing on-premise ABAP extensions into the cloud, such as using the ABAP stack with SAP HANA and SAP Cloud Platform services to create and run custom extensions to SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
What’s more, our partners are also contributing their expertise to enrich the platform and benefit our customers. Today, SAP and OpenText announced plans to extend SAP Cloud Platform with unstructured content for the Intelligent Enterprise. These services and automatic document processing can help customers improve collaboration along the entire business process, meet compliance requirements, and increase productivity. Availability of the first release with the scope of standard document management is planned later this year. Additional premium enterprise content management (ECM) services, with out-of-the-box integration and modular design so customers can activate on demand, are also planned.
We are also expanding the lighthouse initiative launched at SAPPHIRE NOW last year. This initiative is focused on delivering market-leading innovations built on SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo to our joint customers supported by a differentiated go-to-market model. Today we are excited to announce EY as the next lighthouse partner joining the initiative. This is a strategic investment for EY as the company scales its SAP business. SAP Cloud Platform will underpin EY’s intelligent enterprise go-t0-market activity, including the risk management, finance, and tax areas leveraging SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo to deliver a portfolio of innovative solutions to our joint customers.
Customers and partners can discover and kick-start development via SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Agreement. With simple consumption-based purchasing, pricing, and support, it provides flexibility and agility to accelerate development of cloud applications for the Intelligent Enterprise. The result is a simplified buying and consumption experience, providing a path to find, purchase, provision, and build applications on SAP Cloud Platform, and then pay based on actual usage. SAP will continue to improve the platform experience for our customers and intends to offer a pay-as-you-go option in the second half of 2019.
I can only mention a few examples here to illustrate the value of SAP Cloud Platform as a true business technology platform. To find out more about SAP Cloud Platform and how it could bring value to your business, visit www.cloudplatform.sap.com.
As you can see, constant change leads to progress. I look forward to talking more about it this week at SAPPHIRE NOW.
Gunther Rothermel is senior vice president of SAP Cloud Platform.
This article first appeared on the SAP News Center.