Enterprise application software giant SAP chose four areas to focus on during its hybrid Sapphire customer and partner conference this week: supply chain, sustainability, business process transformation, and accelerating innovation.
Chief executive officer and member of the executive board of SAP SE Christian Klein noted that the company turns 50 this year, and said that in the next 50 years, it will continue providing what he called market-making innovations.
“While the world around us has changed so significantly, our purpose is more relevant than ever: to help the world run better in times of geopolitical tensions, disruptive industry transformations, supply chain disruptions, and to improve people’s lives in times of war and climate change,” he said. And, he noted, while SAP can’t solve political problems or cure disease, “What we can do is help you to overcome your biggest challenges by using our technology, our innovations, our data, and our business know-how.”
Industries are changing faster than ever, he observed, with the lifespan of Fortune 500 companies shrinking by 50 per cent this decade. A second challenge flagged by customers is that of supply chain disruption – three quarters of companies worldwide have experienced disruptions of some sort, often because the supply chain had been outsourced, which increased complexity. Companies are now seeing how fragile those supply chains are. And thirdly, he said, companies are concerned about sustainability. According to a McKinsey report, up to 70 per cent of profits can be at risk if a company is not operating sustainably.
At the conference, SAP announced solutions to address each of these issues.
To begin with, SAP and Apple have expanded their partnership to produce tools to help streamline the digital supply chain. The companies have co-designed a suite of apps, built by SAP to take advantage of the latest in iOS. The first two, available today in the Apple App Store, are the SAP Warehouse Operator mobile app for the SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) application, and the SAP Direct Distribution mobile app for delivery drivers, which allows them go paperless on their daily routes.
SAP Warehouse Operator’s functions include:
- Guides users to their next warehouse task: Employees can select a resource to work with (for example, a forklift), immediately see the next warehouse order associated with the resource, and start their next task within that order.
- Scans bar codes fast, efficiently, and accurately: Use the built-in iPhone camera to read bar codes instantly, even in low light and from a distance. SAP Warehouse Operator can read blurry, damaged, small, or unusual bar codes as well.
- Supports the picking process in SAP EWM: Pick items from a source bin and move them to a destination bin.
- Supports the put-away process in SAP EWM: Move pallets from receiving to a storage destination.
SAP also introduced a new Digital Manufacturing Cloud that brings together the latest analytics, edge computing, automation, and innovations supporting manufacturing processes end to end to help customers optimize manufacturing performance.
On the sustainability front, SAP added new capabilities to its SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises, including the addition of travel and transport capabilities to the SAP Product Footprint Management solution to help customers reduce their carbon footprints, and adding support for creating models showing products’ “genealogy” to track emissions across the product lifecycle to SAP Business Network for Logistics. It also extended the SAP Responsible Design and Production solution to include plastic taxes, and announced several partnerships designed to further enhance customers’ efforts towards achieving sustainability.
Business process transformation
Business process transformation got a lot of attention, with major updates to SAP Service Cloud, a showcase of customers (including SAP itself) using RISE with SAP and S/4HANA Cloud, and announcements of new or expanded partnerships with Accenture, Google Cloud, Microsoft, EY, and IBM.
Innovation acceleration was wrapped in a blanket of low-code and no-code tools, including updates to SAP AppGyver, a no-code development environment now embedded in SAP Service Cloud, and new capabilities for SAP Process Automation, a no-code solution for workflow management and robotic process automation (RPA) that is now available through the free tier of SAP BTP.
Improvements for partners
SAP has also updated the pricing structure in its online marketplace, the SAP Store, to make it easier for partners to build and commercialize solutions that integrate with and extend SAP products. It has eliminated fees to participate on the Store and has reduced some of its revenue share pricing for partners.
The simplified revenue-sharing model for partners building software (as members of SAP PartnerEdge, Build, program track) spans three tiers:
Content tier: Revenue share has been reduced from 15 per cent to zero, giving partners the option of publishing solutions for free on SAP Store.
Integration tier: Revenue share has been reduced from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, which includes access to SAP Integration Suite, basic edition, and the ability to publish solutions and complete transactions on SAP Store.
Platform tier: Revenue share remains at 25 per cent. This tier enables partners to integrate with and build on core SAP solutions through SAP Business Technology Platform and to publish solutions and complete transactions on SAP Store.
Klein said, “Julia (White, SAP chief marketing and solutions officer) is internally pushing very hard to make our partner solutions a more integral part of our portfolio, so actually our salespeople should not even realize anymore [whether something was SAP developed or partner developed].”
Added Jan Gilg, president and chief product officer, SAP S/4HANA, “Built by a partner is absolutely critical for us. … We built everything [in the large monolithic ERP solution]. Yes, we allowed a few partners to put add ons there, but it’s clear that as we move into the cloud now, and into the SaaS world, it has to become much more modular.”
“We still want to provide an end-to-end experience, and then cover end-to-end processes. But it doesn’t mean that we have to own everything. And that’s why the ecosystem is so important, and the platform is so important.”