SAPPHIRE NOW: ‘An inflection point for IT’

So it’s the end of another SAPPHIRE NOW & ASUG conference and now that I’m over the jetlag having returned to the UK, I wanted to share some highlights and discoveries.

The big theme of digital transformation was no surprise as this is on pretty much everyone’s agenda at the moment. It was the primary focus of solutions and services from most vendors at the show, but the conversations we had with end users of SAP demonstrated that it’s now a real business priority too.

Many of the keynote presentations touched on the same thing, with much discussion about how companies are under pressure to move faster and are being challenged to undertake a journey that will transform the way they operate from both IT and business perspectives. Business models are changing, which demands a faster response if companies are to remain relevant.

“There’s an opportunity for IT to make a big difference”, Michael Dell, Dell Founder, Chairman and CEO

Michael Dell drove home this fact during Bill McDermott’s day one keynote when he stated that we’re at an inflection point for IT – a point at which ‘there’s an opportunity for IT to make a big difference’.  However, he also cautioned that digital transformation is a strategic project, not an IT one that must be driven by the business.

SAP highlighted some key themes in support of the digital transformation agenda, with a strong emphasis on real-time access to data and their new Leonardo platform. SAP has launched Leonardo as a new digital innovation system in the cloud, bringing together the SAP Cloud Platform, Internet of Things, Machine learning, Analytics, Big Data, Design Thinking, Blockchain and Data Intelligence into a platform to help companies accelerate their digital transformation. Apparently, it will help to move ‘billions of devices from thinking to doing’.  No doubt there’s plenty of work to be done before we get to that point.

Naturally, S/4HANA was also extremely prominent (no surprise there!) at the show, with much discussion about the journey that SAP customers are undertaking to understand and execute the transition to this new technology. I was surprised to hear about the number of organizations planning to go-live on S/4HANA within this year, which is encouraging to see, though clearly it’s a project that is still some way off for many firms.

Whilst all the future tech is very interesting, there was another key topic that came up time and again as we spoke to SAP users at the show – the increasing number of companies that are moving to agile delivery methods and DevOps for SAP.  We’ve seen a huge upturn in interest in this topic over the past year or so, and this was reflected in many of the conversations that we had.

As a company whose focus is on enabling continuous delivery in SAP and supporting the transition to S/4HANA, these last two factors made for a very successful event.

Accelerating transformation through automation

According to SAP, 72% of CEOs see the next 3 years as more critical than the last 50. Maybe that’s always the case since the now is always more pressing than what’s past, but either way, it’s clear that customers are increasingly demanding, and that successful businesses will be those which can adapt quickly. The rapid pace of technological evolution can provide plenty of new opportunities, but it also adds significant cost and complexity for IT teams who need to respond to and embrace digital disruption.

I took the opportunity to speak about accelerating SAP change and why successful transformation projects need automation and DevOps during a short presentation that I delivered on the SUSE booth. The following points were some of the things that I highlighted:

  • Market forces are driving businesses to make dramatic changes.  Digital transformation needs to be embraced so that these firms are ready for the future.  Organizations now have to be ‘built to change’ so they’re agile enough to adapt to changing market conditions and win in today’s digital and application economy.

  • IT systems and enterprise applications like SAP are seriously impacted by this shift and must evolve.  A traditional ALM approach simply isn’t going to cut it.  Systems must be agile enough to change regularly and rapidly in response to business needs.  Slow SAP release cycles are ultimately going to become a competitive disadvantage for the business, even if you’re still in the ‘analogue’ world.
  • Basis Technologies’ automation tools are supporting its customers’ journeys from slow, unresponsive processes, through agile, to DevOps and automation so they ultimately have the flexibility to change their SAP environments at the speed the business needs.

If you’d like to understand more about how Basis Technologies can enable and support your change and transformation journey please get in touch.

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