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SAP Mentors at SAPPHIRE NOW Orlando


SAPPHIRE NOW Orlando 2016 is now a wrap! For the SAP Mentors team, the event was a big success on a number of levels. See below for highlights from last week and a few resources to help continue the conversation.



  • 51 SAP Mentors / ~10 SAP Mentor Alumni attended SAPPHIRE & ASUG Annual Conference


  • SAP Mentors and active Mentor Alumni contribution
    42 Sessions  = 31 ASUG Sessions, 11 SAPPHIRE Sessions with 31 hours and 40 minutes
  • Tammy Powlas, Joyce Butler, and Ingo Hilgefort conducted ASUG pre-conference sessions that were sold out
  • 15 Exclusive SAP executives and subject-matter experts discussions with: Bernd Leukert,Steve Lucas, Bjoern Goerke, and many more
  • SAP Mentor Jamie Oswald and Mercy Health won SAP HANA Innovation Award 2016 (Analytics Wizard category)
  • SAP Mentors participation in North American BI Strategic Advisory Council, organized by SAP’s BI Go-To-Market Solution team
  • SAP Mentor Booth Tour With Jonathan Becher: See How SAP Digital Makes It Easy to Run Live
  • Technical Advisory session with SAP Partner Cisco Systems
  • Tom Cenens did an interview about Solution Manager for the Digital Business Services team
  • SAPPHIRE EverGreen Studio interview of Head of Global Support Andreas Heckmann by SAP Mentor Alexandra Carvalho (Link to video will be announced soon)
  • Community Presentation to the SAP Mentors @ SAPPHIRE hosted by Gali Kling Schneider & Oliver Kohl
  • Great Networking opportunities while “Mentors & Friends Reception” with special guests (Maggie Fox and more) and the Concert with “COLDPLAY”
  • Joyce Butler and Tammy Powlas were invited to meet Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) – see that great tweets with pics from Tammy and Joyce
  • SAP Mentors (represented by Tom Cenens) as part of the ongoing support the Certification Topic brought by the Certification 5 in 2010, participated in the CEIC (Certification Influencers Council) workshop to give feedback and follow-up up on Certification matters.



  • SAP Mentors Point-of-View Document: We have asked our Topic Leads to contribute a piece from their topics to summarize their market impressions and feedback to SAP. The POV doc will be shared with SAP teams internally. Externally, we are going to share what can be shared publically in the June 27th SAP Community Call (ASUG & SAPPHIRE 2016 Recap)
  • SAP Mentors Feedback: Let's keep the ideas going! SAP Mentors that attended the event should take a moment to share their ideas with us about how we can continue to improve the impact for the SAP Mentors Program SAPPHIRE NOW and other events. No idea is too big or too small. We'll summarize all ideas and use them as input for future plans. 
  • There will be some emails coming out shortly with more details regarding the activities and accomplishments.
  • Any questions or suggestions? Please contact sapmentors@sap.com









Looking at the big list above, you may agree if we say that we were really able to gather diverse perspectives at SAPPHIRENOW, built new relationships, supported our networking and co-innovation and also the “celebrating part” was successful!

Thank you for being a part of this and for making this week a success for the SAP Mentors program.

  • Special Thanks to the SAPPHIRENOW team & organizers: Stephanie Bendele, Saundra Gaar
  • SAP Mentors Topic Leads Abdulbasit Gulsen, Alexandra Carvalho, Chris Rae, Derek Loranca, Dick Hirsch, Jamie Oswald, Jim Spath, Jocelyn Dart, Martin Lang, Matt Harding, Matthias Steiner, Njall Stabell, Oliver Schreiber, Owen Pettiford, Phil Loewen, Robin Van Het Hof, Simon To, Tammy Powlas, Tom Cenens, Tony De Thomasis
  • Not to forget Session owner and presenters and all SAP Mentors onsite that supported, cheered, and contributed
  • SAP Mentors Program team: Jason Cao and Kati Fischer onsite, Maria Farrales for all the meetings and logistics, AJ and William Laverde for Social Media coverage.



SAPPHIRENOW Replays will be available here

SAP Mentors Blogs can be found here

Discussion and notes in SAP Mentors JAM Group (SAP Mentors Only)

Tammy’s Animoto Video


June 27th SAP Community Call  ASUG & SAPPHIRE 2016 Recap

Yours, SAP Mentors Program


By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

As discussed in “Déjà Vu: Digital Boardrooms in the Spotlight,” the concept of the digital boardroom is a key component of digital transformation. It was my great pleasure to attend a session at SAPPHIRE NOW that featured Joffey Mathews, a director from the North America Digital Business Services Center of Expertise (CoE) and analytics expert who applied his experience to the digital boardroom initiative at SAP.

Digital Boardroom-2.jpg

To kick off the discussion, Mathews outlined three challenges that executives face when making decisions:

  • A lack of real-time analytics during an executive and board meeting. Having this critical information is increasingly important as Big Data becomes the norm.
  • No agreement around key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and underlying data sources. The need for a single version of the truth has only grown with the explosion of Big Data and the rise of modern analytics.
  • Demand for information that is accurate, complete, and timely. Another requirement that’s remains unchanged over the years.

While these concerns are not surprising, they represent how a digital boardroom solution adds value to the decision-making process. According to Mathews, the SAP Digital Boardroom Solution aligns executive decisions with the source of truth across multiple areas. To achieve transparency, data-driven insights, and a simplified (yet dynamic) view of the company, the C-suite and the rest of the business need predictive analytics. Although designed for a boardroom environment, the solution is also portable from the top floor to the shop floor – another proof point of how the combination of the cloud and enterprise mobility are turning analytics and Big Data into killer apps.

Digital Boardroom-3.jpg


Likewise, sourcing data from anywhere in the business – which is clearly an advantage – needs to be supported, collected, and harmonized from on-premise and cloud-based applications. Quick response time is especially key for an executive audience, which is why SAP layered analytics on top of a cloud-based or on-premise version of the SAP HANA database or platform. In fact, I’ve learned this first-hand when I recently migrated some applications to SAP HANA, which was done in a matter of seconds instead of minutes. And because insights can be drawn from underlying data sources in real time, there’s no longer a need for pre-canned reports.

With a greater focus on getting the right data to support the right KPIs, Design Thinking plays a significant role in identifying scenarios and driving and guiding data selection and harmonization. This approach supports expansion and further customization. Plus, this application of simplified boardroom processes is based on a proven methodology of leveraging best practices, standardized processes, and predefined content as starting points.  The result is a quicker time to value and lower total cost of implementation – leading to an overall reduction in total cost of ownership.

By presenting three screens of information, SAP Digital Boardroom addresses business needs such as:

  • Real-time insights and guidance to support modern boardroom processes with a single version of the truth and to enable agility and flexibility
  • Real-time analytics based on the right KPIs driven by business scenarios, which are available on demand during boardroom and executive meetings to support enterprise-wide decisions
  • Fact-based decisions without wasting any time on discussing which version of the truth is represented because there’s only one

Looking back, I now see how my work with visionaries of enterprise information systems (EIS) and enterprise support systems is connected to where we are heading – the digital boardroom and the journey to digital transformation. Seeing all of this come to fruition in a way none of us could have imagined is truly exciting.


Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Join Fred online:
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, sap.com, SAP Services Hub

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By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP


One definition of successful innovation is taking a great concept, refining it iteratively, and adapting it to evolving technology and the ideas driving it. Fortunately, over the course of my storied career, I have seen this happen first-hand many, many times.


Early in my career close to 30 years ago, I witnessed the birth and evolution of business intelligence. At the time, I focused on marketing executive information systems (EIS), which later became a foundational pillar for BI. The executive suite found EIS to be easy to use, thanks to the technology’s visual and graphical interfaces and reporting capabilities. Very quickly, EIS evolved into executive support systems (ESS), which was part of a broader decision support system (DSS) structure and was widely hyped before it merged with BI.

These applications were very popular for a period of time – offering graphical interfaces, dynamic reporting, and integrated external and internal data and information. Timed with the explosion of the PC and the rise of a graphical user interface (GUI) with modern application builder tools, this brought information access to a newer, broader user community including the executive suite. Digital Boardroom-1.jpg


Ultimately, the standalone executive-focused solution converged with the broader use of BI and a mandate for more integrated reporting based on a standard set of data and information. As new technologies such in-memory computing, mobile and tablet devices, and highly visual interfaces emerged as well as the reality of real-time access and drill-down and flexible data-driven reporting, the initial vision for EIS and ESS actually came to fruition.


More than 25 years later, the introduction of the digital boardroom has taken these concepts to a whole new level. This juxtaposition of art and science is delivering a new degree of business insights to a C-level audience and beyond.


The digital boardroom: Everything that’s old is indeed new again

When SAP CEO Bill McDermott took the stage to deliver the
opening keynote at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference, I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu as he discussed the challenges of today’s modern C-level executives and how they can benefit from access to real-time data:


  • Insights into business trends
  • Focus on linearity to avoid “hockey stick” performance
  • Real-time information and feedback on the business
  • Integration of data sources across an enterprise
  • Use of Big Data and analytics innovation through simulation and prediction

The key themes of turning data into insights and insights into action have been fundamentally unchanged for close to 30 years.

The SAP Digital Boardroom solution marries cost-effective flat-screen technology to large-area graphics that can be extended beyond the boardroom. Described as a “beautiful user experience” by McDermott, the solution provides mobile access to information, which allows executives to travel anywhere with the insight and functionality of a digital boardroom.


The concepts of top-level reporting and drill-down remain the same. We start with the highest view and dig into line items of any business area supported by the underlying detail – all in real time. The only difference is the elimination of staging data, which resulted from a practice of anticipating possible questions with precanned reports. With SAP Digital Boardroom, all of this can be done in real time and at a far more compelling price point with a much lower total cost of ownership.

Digital Boardroom-2.jpg


A single version of the truth: Trusted and verified

The vision of the digital boardroom depends on the premise of a single version of the truth with incredible levels of detail available below top-level reporting – which EIS and ESS solutions lacked. According to SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner, SAP Digital Boardroom took seven years to be developed and introduced. It’s both art and science as great creativity has been applied along with the latest in technology, including in-memory database and modern analytics. Click here for some great insights from Hasso’s SAPPHIRE NOW keynote. 


As my earlier experiences also included the birth of data warehousing, Hasso also made a case that in-memory technologies can make staged databases obsolete. One sign of a pioneer is the willingness to embark upon a brave new world, even if it cuts into an existing and established business.


In part two of this blog, I’ll provides some insights into how to implement a digital boardroom solution with help from my colleagues from SAP Digital Business Services.


Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Join Fred online:
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, sap.com, SAP Services Hub


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By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP


Stories behind the adoption of technology and innovation are always interesting – and the transition to the cloud is no different. In an environment where there are only a small subset early adopters and an even smaller segment of innovators and pioneers, finding solid examples of organizations heading to the cloud can be tough to find.


When the time came to attend SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference this year, I was particularly excited about the opportunity of hearing customers discuss their cloud-based transformation. But the one that caught my attention is that of a highly respected university located around the corner from my office in Boston – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).



Having lived in Boston for almost 30 years, I’ve become very fond of our many colleges and universities – and in the center of that community is MIT. As our first public sector customer, MIT has proven to be an excellent blueprint model for other educational institutions that are looking to achieve their own digital transformation.


MIT: The art of the possible


To support a user community of over 11,000 students, more than 12,000 employees, a faculty of over 1,000 professors, and approximately 800 contingent and adjunct faculty members, MIT has made significant investment in SAP solutions. A broad range of core applications have been implemented over the last 20 years – from finance and procurement to inventory management, learning management systems, and training as well as several generations of employee-facing portal applications integrated within an environment based on SAP solutions.


Throughout this time, many customizations were made. But after two decades of this approach, upgrades and migrations became increasingly complex and costly to support and maintain – despite the benefit of greater functionality. And just like anything else in life, there was a point where it became too much.


The new mandate: “We're not going to build any more data centers!”


MIT’s vision was quite bold and pragmatic: Transitioning all SAP solution investments to the cloud to maximize its return on computing to favor research and education initiatives over administrative and support applications. However, cost, though important, wasn’t even a primary driver in this decision. Rather, it was the desire to optimize data center resources, utilize existing resources to address core requirements, and enlist outsourced and managed services.


Through the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service, MIT was able to make this move successfully with an impressive governance model to lay the foundation for migrating to SAP S/4HANA and using data services, data warehousing, and enhanced reporting. With this approach, MIT stripped away unneeded complexity and freed up space to reduce its on-premise footprint and shift the capacity of an on-premise data center capacity to its research area. One additional benefit from this outsourced cloud strategy was the addition of two points of disaster recovery to further enhance uptime, which is an explicit requirement of digital transformation. 


Sherpas and a road map for the digital transformation journey

The secret to any successful journey is having a road map and guide available at all times – and for MIT, they came in the form of Digital Business Services team at SAP. Because the university wanted to replace critical Oracle applications with SAP HANA software, a rip-and-replace approach was used to migrate from on-premise solutions to SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This was only a technical migration – no additional functionality was added. 


Since complexity and customization are the enemy of total cost of ownership and bring a host of support issues, MIT made adjustments to custom code with the help of a custom development team from Digital Business Services. Together, they remediated custom code to reduce complexity and drive down support costs. 

MIT ASUG Case.jpg


Plus, application of a framework enabled agile and accelerated project management (PM) as MIT and Digital Business Services leveraged Scrum methodologies. I was also impressed how they leveraged another element of the 3rd platform: SAP Jam social software platform to engage program team communications and collaboration. Likewise, automated testing was a fundamental component that paved the way for a smooth and successful cutover to solutions running on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and in the cloud.


Overall, the implementation was a great validation of MIT’s long-term vision of providing platform as a service. And like the great learning institution it is, the university learned some lessons along the way:


  • Early project planning is essential to preventing poor performance.
  • All resources must be managed, from engaging third parties early-on to the identification of core and extended teams.
  • It is critical to test all customizations and allow time to remediate any issues.
  • A structured plan for going live must not be overlooked if you want a smooth implementation.
  • Increased efficiency yield results, especially when you consider that a migration of 1.7 terabytes of data consumed only 0.95 terabytes in SAP HANA.


All in all, MIT’s story is indeed quite impressive – proving that even some of the best minds in the world are moving to the cloud.


Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Join Fred online:
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, sap.com, SAP Services Hub

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By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

One of the things I love about my work is being around smart people. Whenever anyone asks me why I’ve worked for only two companies throughout my 30-year career, that’s my standard answer – great people with whom I work and learn. Fortunately for me, these great people are from a mix of internal and external colleagues, partners, customers, analysts, and more. And nothing was more thrilling than meeting some of them at last month’s SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG in Orlando, Florida. Not only does this conference mark the midpoint of an active event season, but it also gives me an opportunity to meet, hear, and interact with these forward-thinking and insightful people.


Michael Krigsman
is one such person. Recognized internationally as an analyst, strategy advisor, enterprise advocate, and blogger, he is the founder of CxOTalk and runs the web-based community focusing on CIOs, CMOs, and Chief Digital Officers. Michael also recently became a fellow at the Center for Digital Strategies at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. I had a chance to talk with Michael on the first day of the SAPPHIRE NOW event and asked him to share his aha moments, including key considerations for customers and partners in the face of digital transformation. I particularly liked his frank observations on customer transparency, which is a fundamental element of the SAP conversation on Live Business and the evolution of Run Simple.



Like Michael Krigsman, Stuart Williams, vice president of Research for Technology Business Research (TBR), is another engaging thought leader who focuses on IT business models and innovation, go-to-market strategies, and customer and market dynamics. As the former head of TBR’s Software and Cloud Practices team, he relates the themes of Live Business; digital transformation; and the confluence of platforms, innovations, and lines of business to the overall experiences of his customers. From his perspective, our shift towards value assurance services can precisely guide the journey to digital transformation and help establish a digital core that makes business operations more responsive and efficient.



I’m also looking forward to hosting an upcoming thought leadership Webcast “The Future of Support in an Era of Cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT)” sponsored by Digital Business Services at SAP, on June 9 at 11:00 a.m. EDT. We’ll have a great panel of subject-matter experts including Elaina Stergiades, research manager of IDC Software and Hardware Support Services; Michael Rieder, senior vice president and global head of SAP Enterprise Support & Premium Engagements; and Sei Drake, chief architect of Co-Engineering and Innovation at SAP America.

We hope you can join us for this informative Webcast of intelligent people from whom we can all learn!

  Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Join Fred online:
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, sap.com, SAP Services Hub

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When choosing additional SAP solutions, many of our customers aim to leveraging prior investments into their existing SAP landscape. But what about companies starting from zero? Steve Adamo, Executive Director with Merck & Co. Inc. explained it in a very insightful way in his presentation “Improve business performance through digitization in life sciences”.


When moving to SAP 10 years ago, they saw the opportunity to start from scratch and take a very comprehensive and drastic approach to look at all business processes end to end. They aimed to improve business processes including financials, sales, accounting, procurement, HR, and production down to the shop floor. Now, the large pharmaceutical company has retired numerous legacy systems and moved to one platform, resulting in higher operational efficiency, increased enterprise productivity, faster time to market, and better customer service. Watch the full recorded session here!



One single platform is the foundation for innovation. Moving a step ahead, digitalization can actually not only transform business processes, but also business models, and the way scientists, experts and executives work. Learn more about digitilization, industry drivers, technology trends and their impacts on the life sciences industry at the website “Life sciences: Collaborating in a digital world”.

My first ever SAPPHIRENOW and ASUG was an amazing experience.  30,000 people in one convention center is a user experience in a class of its own!

So with a week to reflect, here's my roundup of best and brightest User Experience highlights... with a few highly recommended awards on the side.


Most Spectacular: The Coldplay Concert

Image is author's own


You have to hand it to Chris Martin and the band - the concert was hands down the best user experience of the entire event.

I've been to many corporate concerts and this one didn't feel like a corporate concert at all - it was as engaging and inspiring as any public concert.

What makes for such a great user experience? What are the lessons learned we can take away for our own enterprise UX?


A great icebreaker - Steve Lucas warmed up the crowd in his inimitable way.  That man could beat a whole team of cheerleaders at their own game.

Personalized for the audience - Chris Martin made a few deeply appreciated jokes about the band...e.g. "Will Champion, the President of Drums and Bass"

Don't compromise on quality -  Hit after hit after hit! No poor quality stuff to detract from the experience.

Going for delightful - Even a tribute to Prince - Chris Martin at the piano rendition of "Raspberry Parade"

A bit of gamification to increase motivation - IoT light wrist bands that flickered, pulsed and glowed

The sense of being part of something bigger - And even better the wrist bands changed to match the colour of the light shows ... so we were all a living part of the concert.


The crowd went wild!  I counted at least 2 encores with the band going well over their allotted time and enjoying the concert as much as we were.


Most Reassuring: Fiori Client 2.0 Progress On Track

I was fortunate enough to squeeze into Michael Falk's second ASUG session on Fiori Client 2.0.

The first was a standing room only sellout with so many left waiting on the wrong side of the door the ASUG crew pleaded with Michael for a repeat session.

It turned out the second session was even better than the first - i.e. the test system was working so Michael was able to demonstrate Fiori Client 2.0 in action.


The major ticket item for Fiori 2.0 - the new Viewport UIs with the CoPilot, ,Me and Notification areas - are so far on track for delivery in time for Vegas or Barcelona Teched.  While there are no guarantees of course, it was good to see some of this in action already.


Michael was able to give even better news... the long-dreaded migration from Fiori 1.0 to 2.0 forced by the change from separate Shell and App header to the Merged Shell/App header may not be such a problem after all.  Currently the Fiori 2.0 team believe customers will not have to change their custom apps at all to pick up the new merged shell/app header!  If they can pull this off then there will be a big sigh of relief from a lot of customers and partners currently building custom Fiori apps.


MergedShellApp header.JPG

Of all the Fiori 2.0 features to come, Notifications is consistently the number one desirable new feature for customers.  Michael showed us what the Notifications looked like.. but the under appreciated workflow god Alan Rickayzen was able to show us the Notification Provider under the covers in his Customer Connection for Workflow session. Now if they can only downport that from S/4HANA to anyDB then a lot of customers out there will be very happy.


Most Intriguing: SAP/Apple iOS Partnership

Announced shortly before SAPPHIRE, the new SAP/Apple partnership was as much as source of angst as of delight.  Were SAP changing direction? Was this the end of SAPUI5? Was the Hybrid Application Toolkit being thrown out with the trash? Would we all have to learn SWIFT? Would Android be left in the mud?


The reality was much more grounded, and - to me at least - surprisingly well focused.


The story goes something like this:

  • SAP has a really big marketshare of enterprise
  • Apple has a really big marketshare of devices
  • Add some mutual respect for current UX direction
  • Stir around some ideas... hey how about we do something together?!


The upshot is:

  • Apple gets to explore the world of enterprise UX by creating some high quality tailored Line of Business native apps as their first offering
  • SAP gets to explore extending Fiori design principles and style guide to another technology.
  • Customers who are Apple-centric have an extra option for delightful user interfaces bringing the best of both Apple and SAP to the table


Or as Sam Yen describes it ... a really interesting (and commercially viable) use case.

See where the design is heading in the Fiori Design Guidelines for iOS


The SAPPHIRE booth was showing working but yet to be validated apps.  It will be interesting to see what comes of this initiative... expectation is it will be end of 2016 before we see the SDK and the first ready for customer apps.


Most Exciting: Knowledge Workspace on HCP

Snuck in at the end of Hasso Plattner's final day keynote was one of the most intriguing new applications SAP have put up in the UX space.


Ok so the Digital Boardroom was clearly the crowd favourite among the CxOs.

But for the rest of us, the world beyond Fiori ,, and structured activities has long been missing in action.

The catchphrase here is "beyond pre-defined user interfaces" and it certainly delivers as you can see in the Youtube Video Working in a truly Digital Enterprise


It was impressive enough to see it on a big digital whiteboard... and I also had a play around in the booth using the Knowledge Workspace on a tablet.  This is drag and drop with a point... not just analytics, not just diagrams and approvals real insight to action with an iterative twist. Supports work remotely as well.


Lots of choices of tools and nice integration. For instance they are already playing around with dragging data in from the Fiori launchpad.


This one's still in validation and I'll be checking it out again at Teched Las Vegas in September. I quite fancy the idea of using Knowledge Workspace to define Fiori user interfaces... which would be delightfully meta.


Highly Commended

A few last notable mentions...


  • Several ASUG customers proud as punch to showcase their Fiori & Personas implementations... including my personal favourite app Fiori My Inbox. Why a personal favourite? Applies to all landscapes, quick to get the basics going, and a great app for learning how to extend Fiori to your users one workflow task at time.

  • A claim of creating 100 Personas created in 6 weeks!  ... so there's some hope for fixing SAPGUI at a cracking pace if you plan it.

  • S/4HANA Visual Harmonization is coming on treat and cuts in along the journey to S/4HANA so the closer you get to S/4HANA, the easier it is to align new, Cloud, and legacy user interfaces



Only my first time at SAPPHIRE and ASUG and already I'm struggling to see how they beat this one next year!

And I'm really looking forward to seeing the progress at Teched.  Hope to see you all there.

It was an exciting three days at SAPPHIRE NOW. My first time ever at an SAP hosted event let alone first time ever in Orlando, Florida. As soon as you step foot into that hefty room you are exposed to a completely new and at first, quite overwhelming world. I was excited to be there and wanted to learn as much as I could about the different solutions that we position to our customers as well as hear from the many exhibitors visiting.


In my current role I am not exposed to many customer facing interactions. These were great to hear and see in person. The energy levels were through the roof. Every customer and SAP employee was excited and ready to go! Knowing that everyone flew from out of the area just to see us and what we have to make made the experience and excitement that much more. That was enough for me to know that this was something special. We were there for them, there to create a new experience for their business. We make their complex business’s “run simple”.


As I roamed the new world of floating signs and spinning LED marks I began to sniff out some of our top partners and recognize the big names. We are talking about Intel, Microsoft, Deloitte, T-Mobile, Apple, VMware, etc.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear from each of these representatives at their booths and hear what they had to say about SAP. Each individual had nothing but amazing thoughts to share about SAP and bursting excitement to showcase how SAP made their products and dreams become a reality.


The demo and exhibitor that caught my eye the most was with Intel. Intel showcased an IoT solution specific to the retail industry. They had a Clothing Retail store “Mock-Up” with IoT sensors above where the clothing was stacked. The gentleman demoing showed me how they use and integrate SAP solutions to track where in the store that specific piece of clothing is at all times as well as when it was last picked up. All the metrics are stored and easily accessible to the management team to provide the best customer experience that every business strives for. Once again, SAP makes this a reality for their customers. The best part of this demo, none of the clothes had sensors on them. Everything was tracked through the paper price tag. Nothing extra was needed other than our software and their IoT hardware. Completely mind blowing to see something like this in action!


To conclude, it was incredible to hear that over 500k people attended to hear Bill’s opening keynote. Over 17.5k people joined us in Orlando and over 696k were involved virtually through social media channels and online attendance. Attendees from over 86 different countries were deeply involved in our SAPPHIRE NOW this year, making it the largest and most unforgettable Sapphire yet. Thank You SAP!!

I work in a company that publishes books on SAP, as opposed to a company that uses SAP, so conferences are always a win for me. Because my topic interests span the entire SAP landscape—from FI to ABAP to Basis to HANA—there’s bound to be something of note. For my first SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Annual Conference, there were three things.


1. BusinessObjects. Don’t call it a comeback! BOBJ is easily my favorite SAP acquisition of all time, mainly because the BOBJ folks are so hardcore into their tools (I’m thinking especially of the EV Technologies and DS Layer crowd here: Eric Vallo, Greg Myers, James Oswald, Dallas Marks...the list goes on.) I’ll let them speak to the latest news, since they know their stuff better than I do—Dallas Mark’s blog is particularly worth a read. In any case, though, despite the fact that anyone who works in book publishing hates product renaming (ask me how I felt about “SAP Gateway” losing NetWeaver approximately five minutes after we printed a book on it), I’m psyched about the BOBJ emphasis. And I’ll continue to violate SAP’s naming rules by calling it BOBJ, if it’s all right with you.


2. Solution Manager. Sure, it doesn’t have “HANA” in the name, so it doesn’t necessarily get a lot of attention in keynotes—but, from my seat at the conference, people were pretty jazzed about the new release. (And I’m not just saying that because Marc Oliver Schaefer works in SolMan product management and fed us for the entire week.) (But he did.)


3. Attendees new to SAP. My last main takeaway from this year’s SAPPHIRE was simply the number of people there who aren’t even using SAP yet. Maybe my perspective on this is skewed because I work the booth, and books are appealing to the new-to-SAP crowd. Nonetheless, I was really surprised to hear from all these folks. My personal favorite exchange was recorded for posterity in this tweet:


Woman Named Sue, wherever you are, I hope you’re reading this. And that SAP CRM makes your job easier.


So those were my takeaways…but the blog title promised more, so I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a Weaver family game called “Best and Worst.” The rules are simple: You say the best part of your day and the worst part of your day. And you ALWAYS start with the worst. The timeframe is flexible: It can be a day, but it can also be a weekend, or a vacation…or a conference. So here we go:




Not getting to attend Coldplay. I can’t say I celebrate their entire collection, but c’mon…who didn’t rock out to “Yellow” a little 10 years ago? (15 years ago? Gah.)


Let’s not dwell on the worst, though, because the best outweighed it by far.






Just kidding. You’re new to this game, so let me tell you: That’s kind of a lame best. I mean, I’m not saying I DIDN’T. The BusinessObjects brand is king again. People really like Fiori. SAP IBP is the latest and greatest thing in the SCM space. Lots of people want more information about Hybris. SolMan 7.2 is a big deal. “Digital transformation” is the new buzzword. More people than ever are running HANA. Fine. I learned all those things. And that’s why SAP PRESS pays for me to go to conferences. But…that wasn’t my best.


This was, with Dallas Marks.


And this, with Matthias Steiner.


And this, with Susan Keohan, Alan Rickayzen,

and Jocelyn Dart...even though I technically

wasn’t present for it.


And this, with Frank Densborn, whom I'm

still determined to get on Twitter.




And this, with Jeremy Masters,who insisted

on a selfie, naturally.


And DEFINITELY THIS, with Jim Spath,

who wore tie-dye and is therefore my hero.



I could go onI met tons of people, many for the first time, and don't even ask me how many more photos I havebut I've already cheated: You’re only supposed to have one best. It was my first SAPPHIRE, okay?! Give a girl a break.


P.S. I’m genuinely interested in what other people’s conference bests and worsts were. WON’T SOMEONE PLAY THIS GAME WITH ME?!


You can follow me on Twitter at @kellygweaver, where I have been known to wax philosophical on French words, things that look like magnets but aren’t magnets, coffee, and the nature of the human condition. Wait, I mean cats.

This was my first SAPHIRE NOW. It was an experience , and also pretty much confirmed what I had been anticipating:


  1. SAP finally made it clear, that any customers’ conversion to S/4HANA will not be a one stop shop, but rather a well-planned journey. For this they are providing more roadmap guidance as ever before.
    Your Path.jpg

  2. Similarly, SAP emphasized, that architectural considerations, like the best use of a hot read-only stand-by disaster recovery system and strategic retention management, are more important than ever in times of in memory computing.

  3. Then it did not go without notice, how much technology has advanced again. Previously, the question had been how to fit a huge customer system into one HANA node, now the question is how to leverage a huge HANA system to host multiple HANA instances.

  4. Also, Fiori Cloud, Fiori Mobile and Fiori for iOS showed SAP's continued commitment to renewing the SAP user interface and user experience.

  5. Further, SAP restated their commitment to delivering cloud to cloud and cloud to on premise integration using the HCP based HCI.

  6. And finally, the proclaimed collaboration between SAP and Microsoft made complete sense for me, since it is very useful for customers with a two vendor joint SAP and Microsoft strategy, allowing better and quicker integration between their respective platforms.


Of course, there were many more topics at SAPHIRE NOW from the Digital Board Room to the Internet of Things. But for me, as a SAP architect, the above were the most relevant.


Last but not least, the Coldplay concert on Thursday night was not too bad an experience at all either .

2016-05-19 21.44.35.jpg

It was a busy three days on the convention floor at Sapphire Now 2016 this year.  The Co-Innovation table with Erik Westcott, Elke Speliopoulos, & Russ Green and myself @DB509 enjoyed speaking with our customers about our niche solutions and the digital transformation journey.  Lots of interest regarding "Technology Radar for Internet of Things" covering Digital through Physical Technologies. Our Mission at the DB509 table covering Co-Innovation and IoT was providing information on how we develop and maintain tailor-made, business critical solutions that help customers be best-run digital businesses and extract the full value from their SAP platform investment. It became abundantly clear that our customers are more excited than ever about S/4 HANA from its personalized user experience with SAP Fiori to our advanced in-memory platform.  We had a great time and want to thank all for visiting us at our table:


A few days ago SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 has ended, and it did big-time with an legendary concert of Coldplay, the British rock band from London.

It have been three busy but also very successful days for us at the SAP Digital Business Services Campus. We’ve talked to many customers on-site and it was great to see how everyone is speaking about the digital transformation and how SAP is helping our customers on this journey. The whole SAP team had a great time and we want to thank all customers for visiting our campus:





To make the digital enterprise real it is key to establish SAP S/4HANA as the digital core. SAP recently launched the SAP S/4HANA Value Assurance Service Packages to help our customers with this move. By taking a collaborative approach with SAP partners, these packages deliver the best from SAP Digital Business Services and instill confidence in our customers. Even Bill McDermott mentioned the Value Assurance approach in his opening keynote on Tuesday last week.

In this interview with Michael Kleinemeier, Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and Digital Business Services, you can learn how customers are accelerating digital transformation and business innovation using SAP S/4HANA Value Assurance Services Packages. For additional information please visit this website.

As this has been a hot theme at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 we also interviewed a few SAP executives and experts on the showfloor to provide you with more insights. Let’s start by first listening to Sei Drake, Chief Co-Engineering Architect, providing a glance at the whole digital transformation itself:



Next, let’s listen to Meinolf Kaimann, VP, Global Head of Premium Engagements & Value Assurance, who is explaining why the SAP S/4HANA Value Assurance Service Packages were brought to the market:



Silvio Bessa, SVP Digital Business Services North America, is providing additional information on the context of Value Assurance and Premium Engagements towards the digital transformation:



And now Paul Helms, SVP, EMEA Head of SAP Enterprise Support & Premium Engagements, goes into much more detail regarding the Value Assurance approach and also shares initial customer feedback:



And finally, Keith Lamont, Director PE Engineering, is providing detailed information about the four different SAP S/4HANA Value Assurance Service Packages:








Learn more about SAP Digital Business Services at SAPPHIRE NOW here.

Find all our event related blogs and videos here.

Benjamin Wilk is the social media ambassador for SAP Digital Business Services at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016.

My First SAPPHIRENOW Experience as an Intern

Last week, I had the opportunity to go to SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, Florida. It was such an incredible experience. The entire show floor filled over 30,000 people! Quite frankly, it was a bit overwhelming at first. I went in not knowing what to expect but I left with a tremendous amount of new knowledge and takeaways and here are a few:

1) Get out of bed and listen to the keynotes live

The first keynote started at 8:30AM and I was struggling to get out of my bed early enough to make it but I was so glad to be able to experience the keynote session live. Sitting in a huge audience with peers all around me, the ambiance was totally different. Everyone had their attention focused to the stage or ginormous LCD screen, it wasn't like watching a video online because there was actual engagement and the energy was infectious. When you’re there, the content seemed to be more interesting and it made me feel really proud to be a part of SAP!

2) Take advantage of all the opportunities to learn and take people’s business cards

As an intern, the structure of SAP still confuses me sometimes, I haven’t deciphered all the acronyms yet, and I was far from knowing all the products in the SAP portfolio. I took this chance to go to the different demo pods to learn more about the different products. Most importantly, I learned to start taking business cards from the people I met, especially those that I think I can learn from, because I want to make the most out of the connections I made.

3) Take time out to meet with people you’ve worked with via email

I’m currently a Product Marketing Intern under Analytics, which was comprised of members from all around the world. I realized that it’s only going to be at events like SAPPHIRE that I will get a chance to meet these people in person. When I met with the people I’ve worked with virtually, it strengthened our connection that much more. I can put faces to the different names and voices now! It definitely changed my view on making real life connections because calls and virtual meetings were “normal” in such a big company.

4) Make it fun and buddy up

SAPPHIRE can be content overload but I enjoyed walking around to learn about the other vendors. It can also be a bit intimidating so walking around with a buddy helped a lot. Different companies had different ideas and innovations so it was exciting looking at new tech gadgets. One of my most memorable experiences was trying the Samsung VR Gear. Using the VR Gear, I was able to experience a roller coaster. Crazy, right?! My body wanted to move with the roller coaster because I was so immersed. I must have looked quite silly to a bystander but it was a ton of fun! Augmented reality is definitely a big theme currently and now I can see how the SAP Digital Boardroom, a product that I got to see go live, is relevant in the big picture. 

Overall, I met awesome people, made new friends, learned a ton of new information about SAP’s products, SAP’s vision for the future, and current trends in tech. If I were to do SAPPHIRE again, I would do more research on sessions and companies that will be there. Going into SAPPHIRE with an open mind proved to be a rewarding experience. I’m so lucky to have been a part of it all, thank you SAP!

Thank you for reading and feel free to follow me on twitter @itslimei

Here are some pics from my experience:







By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP


Events can be many things to a company, but, above all, they exist for customers. And to keep customers engaged, events – even SAPPHIRE NOW – must reinvent themselves. For the team responsible for SAPPHIRE NOW, this meant taking the popular TED Talk format and applying it to the session line-up. Not only were the sessions crisper and more succinct, but they also provided a clear statement of challenges, outcomes, and key advantages of running a Live Business.


Recently, I asked a leading content curator how to build a great TED Talk. His suggested using a three-act “Disney Pixar” format – challenge, solution, and results. It appeared that many sessions I attended at SAPPHIRE NOW heeded this advice – and the result was inspiring content. But, there were two in particular that really caught my attention.

Loblaws and the Run Simple journey


With approximately 200,000 employees working in over 200 locations and a commanding 30% market share, Loblaw is Canada’s largest retailer. The grocery store chain processes a staggering 1 billion transactions each year and supports 840 systems. Between the volume and size of its business, Loblaw admits that this is a complex system. Nevertheless, the retailer still reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) by 30% while adding 1,200 more stores.


Loblaw's approach focused on standardization and operational efficiency as it embarked on its own business simplification journey centered on a long-term relationship with Digital Business Services at SAP and the SAP MaxAttention service. By incorporating the insights and governance practices into the business, the retailer structured its operations to shrink overall IT-related costs.


What convinced the business that it needed to Run Simple? Although the goal was to reduce overall TCO, Loblaw was also experiencing slow adoption rates, high customization, and rising complexity across the board due to a disjointed direction and innovation plan. In the style of Sherpas, SAP helped define a road map for reducing overall complexity and devise a plan to improve overall ease of use.


Part of this effort called for unified management. Through the SAP MaxAttention service, Loblaw optimized its intake and consumption of new technology and created unified plans for delivery, deployment, and support across all innovation areas. This model combines the support and delivery expertise of Accenture, Cognizant, and key partners with SAP standards.


Although Loblaw maximized its investments in SAP solutions and yielded significant cost savings, the real value came from improving the user experience.


EMC and the co-innovation experience:

EMC is a US $25 billion global company with over 70,000 employees and a diverse product and services technology portfolio that has diversified since their earlier roots in storage solutions. Over the last six years, they have become incredible proof of the benefit of innovation as its IT infrastructure has moved beyond core ERP solutions.


EMC is driven by several major business drivers:


• A legacy of heavily customized Oracle applications burdened with high support costs; no scalability; and ineffective and costly upgrade path

• Continued growth of EMC products and services that required sophisticated solutions requirements

• A “need for speed” for faster introduction of new products

• Rising user expectations and a need to exploit innovations such as enterprise mobility and enhanced user interactions

• Increased partner collaboration and desire to co-innovate



Partnering with the SAP Custom Development organization, EMC achieved its goals of collaborative co-innovation. The company leveraged a SAP Hybris solution to create a quote system for the shell and combined it with SAP Solution Sales Configuration. Although the user interface is customized, it is also consistent and contemporary as well as integrated with Vendavo’s solution for integrated pricing. All of this is deployed on top of the SAP CRM application and the SAP HANA platform for maximum performance.


EMC met its critical business needs, and the results are impressive. The project was delivered on time and within budget while providing support to more complex solution configurations. Most important, it is an integrated, end-to-end solution that offers mobile access with a unified, consistent user experience. Being a global solutions provider, EMC can support local language localization and the configuration needs of a diverse product and service portfolio with increased speed and overall reliability. EMC reduced its support costs, achieved a positive impact on TCO, and improved new product introduction cycle time by 30% – all while supporting a 50% increase in overall transactions.


Both Loblaw and EMC are insightful examples of partnership in the face of innovation. The more complex the innovation options, the greater the need for simplification; integration; and consistent, companywide access.


Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Empathy is key

I’m back home after a week of inspiration at SAP’s annual SAPPHIRENOW conference in Orlando Florida. The conference kicked off with a keynote where empathy was the central theme after a number of customers had told SAP that they expect more guidance on their journey to become a digital enterprise. I truly believe SAP’s CEO Bill McDermott when he talks about how empathy for the customer is important. When he says something like that, he means it, I was in the audience and I felt it was real.

On an executive and product management level, SAP receives input on the topic from different groups. At SAPPHIRENOW, this also includes the SAP Mentors who had meetings with the executives and product management throughout SAPPHIRENOW to provide feedback on what SAP has been doing, where they are going, what we’ve seen in the community at large and what we’ve noticed at customer side. As a SAP Mentor I  strongly believe in the added value of doing this as it provides SAP with a pulse check of what’s going on and judging from who is willing to meet up with us, the added value is also seen and valued at SAP side.

Reaching out to the stars

Today, I reached out to SAP’s CEO Bill McDermott to provide feedback myself which is considered a bold move by some but I was thrilled to find out it was well received and that action is being taken as we speak to reach the level of empathy that was mentioned in the keynote. I strongly believe in what SAP is capable of. As a SAP Mentor, my calling is to influence SAP in a constructive, positive manner. As such I will follow up and serve the cause further, we are all serving the same purpose in the end, helping others to step up and thrive. In this case our customers, empathy is definitely key here.

More guidance to come

As mentioned in the first keynote, more efforts are needed to guide the customers better, provide more information on what changes in S/4 HANA, what is gone, what is there and what added value is brought in the different lines of business and industries. SAP has been working on it since they released S/4 HANA but the customers seem to have outpaced SAP in their demand for information and transparency. A sign that things are going well, lots of customers who are preparing for the journey and lots of new customers who are interested in leveraging all of the marvel that SAP can currently offer.

While there is more to come in the not so distant future, here are some of the latest novelties shown at SAPPHIRENOW 2016 to help you on your journey towards S/4 HANA and Digital Transformation:

The SAP Education Network for Digital Transformation is a network designed to connect those who are on their journey towards Digital Transformation. It will guide you to build up the skills needed, divided into different roles to build your Digital Enterprise.


It also contains whitepaper content, video content on different industries and survey’s that have been performed. Alongside the actual network that is being laid out, there are also events being organized by SAP to mobilize the executive levels at customer side for example. They are less likely to go through the trouble of logging on to SAP Learning Hub and then leveraging SAP JAM to access data so SAP should engage them in different ways so they can also consume important information. Since SAP JAM is a collaboration platform, members can ask questions, get answers, collaborate and much more.

I expect rapid growth in numbers of this network as many are in search of what needs to be done on the journey towards a Digital Enterprise from an educational point of view, what does it mean, where you can find value for a specific industry or lines of business, which skills do we need to bridge the gap to be prepared for a Digital Enterprise and much more.

The S/4 HANA Readiness Check which was showcased during Dr. Hasso Plattner’s keynote and delivered through SAP Solution Manager 7.2 is definitely an interesting service for customers. Unfortunately this is currently a premium service as described in the latest publication “SAP Solution Manager for SAP S/4HANA” by SAP Press. The book also mentions that SAP has the intention to allow customers to use self-service for this purpose at a later point in time. I hope later will be very soon in this case, to lower the barrier. I assume it’s currently a premium service because SAP wants to have some control in the beginning of the offering to fine tune it to a larger extent before handing it out as a self-service. The book is a recommended read if you want to find out what SAP Solution Manager 7.2 has to offer to help you run S/4 HANA in an optimal fashion.

The Enterprise Support Value Maps are value maps which provide information around specific topics to Enterprise Support contract (or higher) customers. SAP has a SAP S/4 HANA and SAP HANA value map which provides you with information around multiple steps: SAP HANA overview, SAP HANA innovation/blueprint, SAP HANA implementation/run and SAP HANA operations. You could say this is a complementary offer (free of charge for Enterprise Support contract or higher customers) to the SAP Education Network for Digital Transformation.

Note that you have to use “Sign up here” on the value map landing page each time you want to join another Value Map, something I misunderstood after having signed up to one of them already as I was using “Login here” which then only takes you to SAP JAM and shows the groups your have signed up for.

Disclaimer: at the time of writing, SAP is a premium partner


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