Last week, the 30th annual SAP SAPPHIRE NOW conference took place March 7-9 in sunny Orlando, FL. This year, it was three in one: SAPPHIRE NOW, ASUG conference and CX LIVE. All three brought no fewer than 30,000 attendees to the Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. More than 2400 sessions were held during the three days, spread throughout more than 1,5 million square feet of exhibition space, meeting rooms and halls. For those of you who didn’t make it to SAPPHIRE NOW and CX LIVE, I’ve pulled together key takeaways from both.
In 2019, for the first time, SAP CX Live takes place concurrently with the SAPPHIRE NOW/ASUG Annual Conference. The events were hosted in the different corners of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the second largest convention facility in the United States. That was a big venue, but that’s even better — it helped me to hit my goal of 12k steps a day. However, after a number of 15-minute walks with a heavy backpack made me think twice whether I really want to go across the convention center to join another-end sessions.
These conferences were completely different in terms of atmosphere and tempo. As usual, SAPPHIRE NOW was traditionally overcrowded while CX LIVE was cozy and quiet.
Hundreds of exhibitors were segregated between the events on the basis of proximity to the Customer Experience topic. Everything that is related to the CX portfolio was grouped in the same location.
The event has attracted 30,000 people onsite from 100 countries, and over one million online. Even in far corners of the city, you could see the local bars with branded signs welcoming the guests of SAP.
- Xs and Os. The main leitmotif and throughline of the conference. How important it is to combine both experience data and operational data (x+o) to have full situational awareness in your company
- SAP Qualtrics. Ten new offerings to measure and improve the four core experiences of business – customer, employee, product, and brand.
- SAP C/4HANA Foundation – a new Kyma-based an orchestration layer that enables administrators and developers to flexibly use enterprise applications and extensions from SAP.
- SAP HANA Cloud Services and Data Warehouse Cloud. The single gateway that allows you to bring all SAP and non-SAP data together in a single logical data fabric resides accross distributed data environments.
- SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation. The automation suite where bots imitate humans by replacing mouse clicks, interpret text-heavy communications or make process suggestions to end-users for definable and repeatable business processes.
- SAP Data Intelligence. The comprehensive cloud solution to scale AI & ML across the enterprise. The product is used for coordination and cooperation between the business users and its customers, data engineers an data science teams
- Partnership with Apple. Apple and SAP join efforts to make mobile experience even better. CORE ML will be used natively by SAP Cloud Platform SDK.
- Partnership with OpenText. The OpenText content services will be delivered through SAP Cloud Platform and other SAP solutions.
- SAP Customer Data Platform. SAP unveiled plans to evolve and complement SAP Customer Data Cloud (ex-Gigya) and SAP Marketing Cloud to deliver a full-scale enterprise-grade customer data platform.
- Project “Embrace”. Microsoft and SAP join efforts in “Project Embrace”, a collaboration program with public cloud providers and Global Strategic Service Partners (GSSPs)
- Training Cloud for SAP Litmos. The training cloud for the SAP Litmos is now part of the CX portfolio.
- From SAP CX Labs. KOI, a prototype of the decentralized authentication based on blockchain. PoCs from SAP CX Labs: Codename ANTWERP, Yo!AvatART, Hands-Free Foeld Service Maintenance.
- Constructor.io. The search-as-a-service start-up that uses AI & ML to increase usability and efficiency of the product search and make it personalized based on such data as customer behavior, product catalogs, product-related metadata, price changes, and purchases.
- OTO.ai. The technology to measure the emotion behind words and get a much better understanding of the intent without performing a resource-intensive voice to text transcription
- Rapitag. The security tag that unlocks automatically once the payment gets through
- Ruum for SAP. Project management and collaboration for SAP
- ThreeKit. This start-up provides a way to embed realistic 3D images within the commerce platform that allows buyers to rotate, flip, scale and look at a product from different angles.
- Adverity. The platform for marketing data integration, a set of pre-built connectors to marketing data sources, such as social networks and web analytics.
- Celebrity Guests. Karlie Kloss, Sandra Bullock, and Lady Gaga.
Xs and Os
This year, the main leitmotif and throughline of the conference is a concept of X-data and O-data.
The ‘X’ stands for Experience data and brings data on how someone feels and what is the context, the emotional component, and the ‘O’ stands for Operational data, such as costs, accounting, and sales.
“Experience is now the organizing principle of the global economy,” said Bill McDermott, SAP CEO, in his day-one keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW. “Every CEO I meet is trying to solve the experience gap… the difference between what people expect and what they actually receive. […] SAP was already the richest source of operational O-data, but we didn’t have experience X-data. The SAP must be the platform that combines X-data and O-data. X- plus O- [data] gives you the ability to deliver true personalization at mass scale so you can bridge the experience gap.”
Actually, this simple idea of bringing both experience data and operational data together resonates with me. It is a right and timely message and strategy for SAP. Putting the customer at the center of any solution is not a new strategy, but a strong foundation for success.
“We want everyone to remember their Xs and Os,” said SAP CEO Bill McDermott in his inspirational keynote. “Experience Management is the new frontier for the world’s best-run businesses. I have never seen SAP more fired up to help our customers be a driving force for growth, innovation, and optimism.”
This movement to a more user-focused approach is supported by its recent $8 billion acquisition of Qualtrics, the company famous for its solutions in tracking consumer sentiment. It is the most important and far-reaching announcement.
Qualtrics founded 17 years ago started as a survey company. Today it provides product research and customer surveys to more than 9,000 customers globally, including over 75% of the Fortune 100 companies. The acquisition became the largest VC-backed globally and the second largest in SAP’s history (CBInsights).
Having the survey automation in the core, the company enriched their services with powerful analytics and visualization capabilities, machine-learning techniques that automatically highlight key drivers and give recommendations. In the core, Qualtrics has a platform for building the complex omnichannel surveys, integrating them in the business process, executing them when events occur, collecting the results, analyzing the feedback, generating the insights and recommendations, and visualizing the results in different forms to let the analyst discover insights by their own based on data.
You can measure and collect NPS (Net Promoter Score) over time, and based on that, make predictions about customer behavior, such as whether they are at risk of churn. The system can measure and track brand awareness, brand loyalty, and brand associations, and predict sales growth based on the collected data. Ad testing tools help you to validate advertising concepts and creative execution by testing them with a sample of the target auditory.
SAP announced 10 new offerings that combine experience data (X-data) with operational data (O-data) to measure and improve the four core experiences of business – customer, employee, product, and brand.
The most interesting solutions for the readers of Hybrismart seem to be the following solutions from SAP and Qualtrics:
- SAP Qualtrics CX for Commerce: CustomerXM Digital + Retail Solutions + SAP Commerce Cloud. Gaining the insights the organizations need to improve ease of use, website layout, mobile app experience and navigation, and personalization.
- SAP Qualtrics CX for Sales: CustomerXM B2B Offering + SAP Sales Cloud. Helping organizations drive the internal alignment and focus needed to deliver meaningful experiences across purchase, installation, support and contract renewals.
- SAP Qualtrics CX for Customer Service: CustomerXM Contact Center Solutions + SAP Service Cloud
- SAP Qualtrics CX for Marketing: CustomerXM Digital + SAP Marketing Cloud. The solution allows marketing teams to collect feedback to better understand their customer segments, target audiences, and customer behavior.
Among other solutions announced, I’d highlight the following:
- SAP Qualtrics Employee Engagement for analyzing open text responses and runs statistical analyses to predict the biggest engagement and impact drivers within an organization, such as company benefits or manager-employee relationships.
- SAP Qualtrics Employee Lifecycle for creating and understanding personalized employee experiences by triggering surveys at specific milestones, such as first-day onboarding, training, promotion, exit and more.
- SAP Qualtrics Employee Benefits Optimizer for simulating benefits trade-offs employees are willing to make, offers guided configurability and delivers real-time trends and reports on the most impactful and optimal benefits packages — all without the need for a data scientist or constant remodeling that exists in current solutions and capabilities.
McDermott introduced co-founder and CEO of Qualtrics, Ryan Smith. After the acquisition, Ryan will continue to run the company within SAP’s larger cloud business group. “We live in the experience economy where organizations are either intentionally racing to the top or unknowingly racing to the bottom,” said Ryan. “The difference between the companies that will win is they understand how X-data and O-data work together to tell the story of what is happening in an organization, why it’s happening and how to act in real time to deliver breakthrough business results.”
SAP C/4HANA Foundation
SAP announced SAP C/4HANA Foundation, an orchestration layer that enables administrators and developers to flexibly use enterprise applications and extensions from SAP, observability and application management tools, profoundly understand the customers’ businesses to offer individually customized products and services and offer a powerful extensibility framework, and, eventually, implement cloud solutions from SAP conveniently and quickly.
The C/4HANA Foundation product management group nominated three projects to be released in the first cycle of 2019:
- SAP C/4HANA cockpit
- Konduit, Event-Based Data Distribution for SAP C/4HANA
- Cloud Acceleration
For example, in the SAP C/4HANA cockpit (https://cockpit.cx.cloud.sap/), a part of C/4HANA Foundation available today, you can keep track of your entitlements, view implemented solutions and subscribed/purchased applications from the C/4HANA stack, manage user authorizations. By the end of the month, SAP C/4HANA Foundation will be automatically deployed for 1700+ SAP C/4HANA customers free of charge.
SAP C/4HANA Foundation is based on Kyma, an open-source project designed natively on Kubernetes. It is built natively on Google Cloud Platform. Over the next few months SAP plans to extend its integration with other IaaS providers as its own SAP Cloud Platform.
As a side note: Project Kyma is now freely available in the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace.
- Introducing SAP C/4HANA Foundation
Thomas Herz, Head of Technology & C/4HANA
- SAP C/4HANA Foundation: This is where we take it from here
Thomas Herz, Head of Technology & C/4HANA
- Extending SAP Partnerships with SAP C/4HANA Foundation
Thomas Herz, Head of Technology & C/4HANA
- SAP C/4HANA Foundation: This is where we take it from here
Thomas Herz, Head of Technology & C/4HANA
- Get a flying start with SAP C/4HANA Foundation and Google Cloud Platform
Viktor Kehayov, VP Product, SAP C/4HANA Foundation
- SAP C/4HANA cockpit
- Join SAP webinars on SAP C/4HANA Integration: May 21, 28, June 18, July 22.
SAP announced a new SAP HANA Cloud Services, a single gateway for all enterprise data. The idea behind the system is bringing all SAP and non-SAP data together in a single logical data fabric resides across distributed data environments. The goal is to provide one environment to manage data both on-premises and in the cloud.
This approach opens the HANA database for more widespread use. “SAP HANA is too good of a database just to lock it inside SAP enterprise applications,” SAP founder and chairman Hasso Plattner said during the keynote. “HANA is for everyone. Now, with SAP HANA Cloud Services, by making it low TCO, delivered as a service, virtually everyone can get started immediately with their SAP HANA journey,” added Gerrit Kazmaier, senior VP of SAP HANA and Analytics.
Hasso Platner shared the latest numbers on SAP HANA:
- 50,0000+ customer licenses sold
- 200+ peer-reviewed academic publications by SAP and HPI on in-memory databases for OLTP and OLAP
- 72 terabytes – the largest customer on scale-out
- 48 terabytes – the largest customer on a single node
- 100+ million transactions processed daily for a single customer
- 7 petabytes of SAP HANA licensed productively
As Kazmaier noted in his article, “With SAP HANA at the core, the new solution will be built on the fastest in-memory computing engine. By making this engine elastic, it will be possible to scale out indefinitely, enabling customers to add more resources as they require — and reduce them when they don’t need them anymore. Building on technologies such as SAP IQ, SAP HANA Cloud Services also will also offer an SQL data lake as a storage layer at minimum cost.”
SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, the first application planned to be built with HANA Cloud Services. It unites heterogeneous data in a single solution, maintaining security and trust.
Find out more on SAP Data Warehouse Cloud at http://www.sapdatawarehouse.cloud/
- SAP HANA Cloud Services breaks in-memory database out of SAP ERP
- SAP Data Warehouse Cloud product page
SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation
SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (IRPA) is an automation suite where bots imitate humans by replacing mouse clicks, interpret text-heavy communications, or make process suggestions to end-users for definable and repeatable business processes. It helps to automate recurring work and dramatically save costs and time. You can create a chatbot and train it to ask questions and process natural language replies. The results can be posted by the bot automatically into SAP system by filling out the forms and entering the data collected by the bot from the interaction.
The solution is based on the robotic process automation software from Contextor SAS acquired by SAP in the end of 2018.
Find out more:
- SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation product page
- SAP Acquires Contextor to Augment Robotic Process Automation Capabilities
SAP News Center
- Contextor Website
SAP Data Intelligence
SAP Data Intelligence is a comprehensive cloud solution to scale AI & ML across the enterprise. The product is used for coordination and cooperation between the business users and its customers, data engineers an data science teams. Using SAP Data Intelligence, the customers will be able to manage their data, data scientists – algorithms with the machine learning models, tools and frameworks, and engineers – deployments of the AI&ML tools on the cloud.
The product also allows them to adapt the latest trends and technology by combining the SAP Data Hub solution (don’t confuse that with data integration and staging platform with the same name) and SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation in a single integrated cloud offering, making use of established open source frameworks such as TensorFlow. With SAP Data Intelligence, users can connect, discover and orchestrate SAP HANA and third-party data sources to automate data cleansing. SAP Data Intelligence is planned to be available in June 2019.
- SAP Data Intelligence product page
- Artificial Intelligence without Data Intelligence, is Artificial
Kevin Poskitt, Sr. Director, SAP Data Intelligence Solution Owner
Partnership with Apple
In summer 2017, Apple unveiled a new machine learning framework API to make mobile AI faster named Core ML. This technology covers everything from text analysis to face recognition, including all sorts of neural networks (deep, recurrent, convolutional) as well as linear and tree models. Unlike SAP ML services, this technology is designed for on-device processing, meaning the data won’t leave phones and tablets.
As announced at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS will use CORE ML. Machine learning models will automatically be copied to the iPhone and iPad so the apps will be able to run offline. It will be available for the first time as part of the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS. SAP reported that they have rebuilt some of the existing apps of the CX suite to run natively on iOS and use the latest platform innovations and maximize security and performance.
“Apple is on the rise in the enterprise,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. “Our customers love the unmatched security and ease of use iOS is known for, and that it gives them a superior platform to build game-changing business apps. We have a strong partnership, and today’s announcements show SAP’s commitment to continue our innovation with Apple.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, commented: “Enterprise customers are seeing real business benefits when they use iOS. We are excited for SAP to extend these experiences further on iPhone and iPad, as well as bringing them to the Mac for the first time. This is an important milestone for our partnership, and we are thrilled to be working together with SAP to empower our customers with the world’s most-trusted business process data on iPhone, iPad, and Mac — the best devices for business.” Cook explained how machine learning and augmented reality can be used by retailers to speed up in-store inventory management and streamline product maintenance. “When you’re looking for productivity, efficiency, and experience, machine learning and AR are key. Mobility is a must. We have to deliver the best information to the right individual at the right time to get the right business decision,” said Cook. “With SAP incorporating these into their SDK, what we can do is just limitless.”
Partnership with OpenText
OpenText Corporation is a leader in developing and selling enterprise information management software. With the products from OpenText, you can securely manage legal content or unstructured data from capture through to archiving and disposition, intelligently search and classify the documents of multiple formats and sources with respect of security and privacy rules.
OpenText announced that their content services will be delivered through SAP Cloud Platform and other SAP solutions. The services will include document management, such as folder, file and metadata management, versioning and viewing capabilities and attachment lists, Office 365 integration, capture and document generation services.
Virginia Backaitis from “Digitalizing Polaris” in her column quotes Hans-Gerd Schaal, vice president of strategic initiatives at OpenText: “The onboarding process of a new employee is one of the most document-intensive processes within HR. Using OpenText Core for SAP Success Factors we can simplify many of these processes. For example, to validate an employee’s authorization to work within a certain region or country, an employer using Success Factors with OpenText Core can send the new employee an email, with an embedded link, requesting the employee upload a copy of their valid work permit. The employee selects the link and through simple drag and drop, uploads the work permit to the HR business partner for review. The HR business partner will verify the validity of the document, add additional information such as permit expiration date and add the information directly to the employee’s digital personnel folder. This process is simple for the employee (drag and drop) and ensures required documents are tracked for validated for compliance purposes.”
- OpenText Cloud Content Services come to SAP Cloud Platform and SAP applications by Virginia Backaitis
SAP Customer Data Platform
SAP announced that the company plans to evolve and complement SAP Customer Data Cloud (ex-Gigya) and SAP Marketing Cloud to deliver a full-scale enterprise-grade customer data platform. This data management solution will unify customer data from multiple sources, integrates, cleans and organizes it in the central repository, creates a unified profile for the customer which can be used by different applications, SAP and non-SAP, to enable advanced customer-centric functionality like personalization.
It was announced that Microsoft will be the first global cloud provider to join Project Embrace, a collaboration program with public cloud providers and Global Strategic Service Partners (GSSPs). The goal of the program is simplifying and accelerating a customer’s journey from their current on-premise production landscapes to the cloud. Microsoft promises that the program will “help customers better manage refactoring and ongoing support costs, access the latest innovations, and improve the performance of SAP applications by leveraging Microsoft and SAP’s unified blueprint running S/4HANA on Microsoft Azure.”. As the result of more than year-long preparation, the brands will deliver a joint roadmap and single blueprint with specific integrated reference architecture to run SAP S4/HANA on Microsoft Azure, market-approved journeys, easy access to the underpinning technology services.
- SAP Partners with Ecosystem to Guide Customers to the Cloud
Training Cloud for SAP Litmos
The company announced a training cloud for the SAP Litmos solution, the last addition to the CX portfolio. The solutions come with a built-in library of course content designed to master sales and customer service. SAP Litmos is a new brand for the last year acquired CallidusCloud’s learning management solution.
There was a huge exhibition area at SAPPHIRE NOW with a large number of service providers, below I will mention only some that are relevant to e-commerce and web development.
SAP Customer Experience Labs presented four prototype apps demonstrating possible applications for various cutting edge technologies, such as blockchain or augmented reality. KOI, a prototype of the decentralized identity sign-on service based on the concept of distributed ledger, blockchain. The prototype solution allows users to log in to any service provider using their smartphone as an authentication device. Another prototype based on the distributed ledger, Codename ANTWERP “blockchainificates” the product enrichment process to make data changes and transactions immutable, traceable, and transparent. Yo!AvatAR is a prototype demonstrating how merchants can offer shoppers a new kind of loyalty engagement based on augmented reality and gamification. Hands-Free Field Service Maintenance demonstrates how voice recognition and machine learning can be used with the Service Cloud and other SAP products.
In addition to its own products and services, SAP Customer Experience Labs presented six innovative non-SAP start-ups to demonstrate the solutions that complement and extend the SAP CX offerings.
Constructor.io. I have a wonderful talk with Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO of Constructor.io, a San Francisco based start-up. Their offering uses AI & ML to increase usability and efficiency of the product search and make it personalized based on such data as customer behavior, product catalogs, product-related metadata, price changes, and purchases. What’s amazing to me is that the system, as Eli explained, uses their own search engine core. Unlike many others who build their solutions on top of traditional open-source products, with all constraints and limitations. I can’t say whether it’s good or bad, but it is definitely a bold and promising move. A brand-new engine? I initially cast some doubt on performance. In response, Eli shared a fact that Constructor.io currently used on Jet.com, one of the most innovative e-stores with a huge product set and traffic. Additionally, Constructor.io offers voice search and natural language processing. As a result, the solution seemed very interesting to me. So, if the stars are aligned well, I will have a detailed look and l publish a more thorough and critical review of the Constructor.io search engine here in the blog.
This start-up presents the technology to measure the emotion behind words and get a much better understanding of the intent without performing a resource-intensive voice to text transcription. For example, for the contact centers, the insights can be used to get immediate feedback to the customer agent or, being aggregated, to the manager for better customer service. This start-up received an investment from SAP’s early stage fund, SAP.io.
Next interesting start-up is Rapitag, a security tag that unlocks automatically once the payment gets through. In the store, the customers can scan the product with their mobile phone and complete the payment process on the app. If payment is successful, the shopper can easily remove the tag and leave the store without queueing at the checkout. The idea of involving mobile commerce for in-store purchases is very interesting. You can use personalization and gamification to make your customers even happier. Imagine that every customer can get a personalized price for a product scan. Or they can buy the next item in 24h and get a discount. They can share personal details (contacts, preferences) in one click and get a discount in return.
Ruum for SAP
Ruum, one of the start-ups grew out of SAP.iO Venture Studio, broke new ground today. This SaaS closes the gaps in the C/4HANA products adding collaboration and project management capabilities.
The solution from ThreeKit provides a way to embed realistic 3D images within the commerce platform that allows buyers to rotate, flip, scale and look at a product from different angles. Unlike numerous other 3d visualization services, ThreeKit allows you to render realistic 3D representations of complex products that don’t even exist yet. For example, a kitchen set or complex mechanical device can be broken down into the smaller components sold separately, and configuration options which affect the way the components are combined or materials the components are produced, and all those components can be mixed and matched.
By the way, Magic Leap showcased a similar solution but designed specifically for their augmented reality glasses. A team of engineer can inspect a 3d engine in the fixed position in the room. They can interactively decompose it into parts, select them, show the detailed information, and discuss the options. That is fantastic!
Adverity presented their platform for marketing data integration, a set of pre-built connectors to marketing data sources, such as social networks and web analytics. The platform also provides data aggregation mechanisms as well as analytics and visualization capabilities.
Alicia Tillman, SAP CMO, joined Supermodel, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist Karlie Klass on stage to talk on how she helps young women pursue careers in computing. That is how I learned that Karlie’s visibility extends far beyond the world of fashion. She shared the details about her initiative, “Kode With Klossy“, a program the model launched in 2015 to encourage girls to learn to code. It will now host 50 camps in 25 cities and counting.
Karlie Kloss has been announced by SAP as its newest global spokesmodel and brand ambassador.
Bill McDermott, SAP CEO, had a wonderful talk with Sandra Bullock. Sandra told us about her early years in acting flavoring her story with lots of humor and laughs. She pointed out that the bottom part of her IMDB page is less than ideal. “You can learn a lot from ugly bottoms!”.
As a final chord, Lady Gaga brought her ENIGMA show on Thursday night.
In the next video from the concert, Lady Gaga explains SAP in her own words (thanks to Alessia Miscone for the video from Linkedin):
“I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, but I have no clue what you guys do. But the good news, it doesn’t matter because I know so much of the world would not operate without you.”
A big “Thanks” to SAP for the wonderful conference. It was a perfect mix of topics, people, and social gathering and definitely a major source of inspiration and resources for me. I am not only truly enjoyed it but found a lot of topics worth sharing on Hybrismart.com. Work is already in progress and it shouldn’t take too long to get the results here. Stay tuned!