Ear to the ground at SAPPHIRE NOW 2017


SAP CEO Bill McDermott gives the keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW 2017.

Stuart Dickinson, director and general manager of Oxygen, a DXC Technology company was among the 20,000 customers, partners and SAP employees at SAP’s flagship SAPPHIRE NOW event in Orlando. He gives his insights on how SAP is setting the agenda for the next 12 months.

ISAP: What were some of the key themes SAP was focused on this year?

Stuart Dickinson: Last year, SAP talked a lot about empathy, customer trust, and demonstrating progress, particularly around integration. This year, SAP was very keen to point out the progress it had made in moving the customer base to a more integrated solution, particularly across the digital core and line of business applications.

They also worked hard to address the indirect licensing issue right up front. Clearly the global SAP customer base has a perspective on the Diageo lawsuit. SAP addressed that, talking about changes to the indirect access components of the licensing model.

However, the big story was about SAP Leonardo, SAP’s umbrella term for cutting edge technologies, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT). While they had already announced SAP Leonardo, SAP made it clear its ambition in this space is now much broader and that it is an area of intense development focus. SAP also made it clear it was working with Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and others around that platform and solution to bring all of those things together – the Enterprise Platform.

ISAP: Do you think there is now more clarity around what Leonardo is?

SD: I think customers need to realise that SAP Leonardo is really a collection of things; technology, design thinking, services, etc. As with everything, the devil is in the detail. From a customer’s perspective, what they are looking for is the ability to connect their edge – their shopfloors, their mines, for example, to their digital core and to be able to harvest the content and the data to make intelligent predictions and informed business decisions.

ISAP: It seems that the announcements were less about the ‘big bang’ than we have seen in some other years.

SD: Yes, it was more about progression, more focused, and about weaving together a story that connects all the different parts of SAP’s ambition.

ISAP: On indirect licensing, is this a real concern for customers?

SD: I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen it manifest itself in this market yet, but certainly customers are aware of it. I think SAP has a lot of work to do locally and globally with the customer base to make sure customers understand. By SAP’s own acknowledgement, this is a complex area that is based around jurisdictional licensing as well as agreement licensing, so each customer could have a very different scenario. In a world where everything is becoming interconnected it is something that the customers, partners and SAP really need to work together on.

ISAP: What were the key takeaways from the event for you?

SD: SAP has very strong ambitions in terms of being the platform of choice for organisations and governments around the world, but it recognises that it might not all be SAP. It realises it must integrate, be more open and have more APIs. I think that was a positive; it certainly seems to be the way the world is moving. To see SAP really embrace that in the way it showed off the product with the other partnerships, I thought was a very mature approach.

ISAP: What should Australian and New Zealand customers be aware of moving into the next year?

SD: I think it’s very clear that the innovation is going to continue to accelerate in HANA and in the digital core, and then around the edge. So, for customers to continue to get the best from SAP, it’s going to be important to be on, or heading towards, the latest versions.

Customers will also need to start thinking about understanding the business opportunities of leveraging machine learning, IoT and other advanced technologies. They are also going to need to be on some sort of cloud infrastructure, because it will be hard to do that stuff on-premise. A customer may, for example, want to be connected up to an AWS IoT environment – and unless it’s core where the processing is in the cloud, there will be all sorts of potential latency and connectivity challenges.

This article is sponsored by Oxygen, a DXC Technology company.

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