From the keynote stage to the showfloor, whether you were a dev, a customer, or a partner, all around SAP TechEd Bangalore one phrase was repeated time and again: “generative AI”.

The focus of more than 5,000 tech and business decision-makers was fixed firmly on AI and what it could do for their businesses, right now – the products SAP has released through 2024, and what is coming next.

With responsible, reliable, and relevant AI that’s built for business, the view of the thousands of delegates at TechEd 2023 was that the future is looking bright.

There was a wealth of incredible insight and opportunity at TechEd. In fact, it was a little bit like going back to school because the things that stood out to me were the ABCs.

A is for Automation

First, I was struck by the enormous potential businesses can realise through the power of enterprise automation.

With the help of AI, technology is helping developers and IT teams automate repetitive, mundane tasks and make better decisions, faster. By embedding generative AI capabilities into SAP Build Process Automation, SAP Signavio, and SAP Integration Suite, we’re helping customers analyse, integrate, automate, and monitor business processes way more simply – and then immediately write the code to make those processes better. It’s that easy.

In my discussions with customers, it was clear that complementing process improvement and insights with enterprise architecture insights will be a real force for change in the future. Customers are excited to understand how to optimise and tune their architecture for the best performance across their entire IT stack.

But this isn’t future-gazing. Businesses are seeing real results today. Take Zuellig Pharma, one of Asia’s leading healthcare companies, providing pharmaceutical distribution and digital and commercial services across 26,000 direct outlets. Zuellig Pharma implemented best-in-class processes across its SAP infrastructure, creating more than 180 automations using SAP Build Process Automation to streamline and simplify its business.

B is for Build

 Aligned to the focus on automation is the empowerment of a new, powerful resource for IT departments – citizen developers enabled by SAP Build. And given every developer will be an AI developer, the opportunity for an AI-infused future is tantalising.

Rucha Nanavati, CIO of Indian car giant Mahindra & Mahindra, said it best.

“We started identifying tasks that don’t require a lot of human intelligence and that enabled our human workforce to focus on more strategic initiatives,” she said. “That led us to automate more than 250 business processes in 3 months, most of which was done by a community of more than 100 citizen developers.”

“That’s great, but let’s talk about benefits. We count more than 900 workdays saved, and more than 400 development days saved in just a year’s time. We’ve seen a 35% gain in developer efficiency and 20% faster execution of our jobs. And we’ve saved more than 13,000 trees. All in one year,” concluded Nanavati.

The story of Mahindra & Mahindra shows the power of a workforce that has been empowered to make real change to their IT systems and the tangible results that can be realised. And with the ability to link low-code, no-code development with pro-code development via SAP Build and SAP Build Code, as well as increasing amounts of natural language interaction through SAP Joule, it is easier than ever to modernise processes fast.

C is for Clean Core

At SAP, we know better than most that enterprise systems can be complex. That’s why a clean core – a cloud compliant, modern, flexible ERP that can be updated and scaled simply – is at the centre of our strategy.

And it’s a concept that’s also at the heart of the future strategic direction for all of our customers.

Takuya Sakai, CIO of Hitachi HiTech, embodies that more than most. His company has used SAP ERP globally for more than 20 years, over which time the system became more and more complex.

“That complexity incurred significant maintenance costs, prevented the company from quickly introducing new innovation, and ultimately hindered its growth,” said Sakai-san. “It was very critical to reduce the complexity.”

Using SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), Hitachi HiTech was able to easily upgrade SAP S/4HANA systems in the public and private cloud – at the same time reducing the number of add-ons and customisations in the software down from 9,000 to just 800.

“Using SAP BTP we can build smart, global digital processes without touching the SAP S/4HANA core. SAP BTP is a very, very important tool to accelerate our business processes,” concluded Sakai-san.

What’s next: AI for business, not AI for AI’s sake

 It’s easy to get carried away by hype and excitement, especially around innovation like generative AI.

But what I saw at SAP TechEd was even more exciting – new innovations, here today, that are already making a tangible difference to real business problems.

The key is in the context – using your AI to connect data, not just collect it. By generating reliable, responsible insights that understand the context of the business processes that surround them, Business AI will help boost productivity, efficiency, and real outcomes.

Read more about the new announcements at SAP TechEd 2023 here.