1 2 3 75 Previous Next


1,119 Posts

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, Loblaws 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, Loblaws 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.


Loblaws’ 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, Loblaws 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, Loblaws 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 Loblaws 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 Loblaws 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

SAPPHIRE Banner.jpg

At SAPPHIRE NOW 2016, the term “co-innovation” was used a lot – probably too much – but for good reason. There were some super-cool stories told at SAPPHIRE NOW about how different companies collaborated with SAP to develop something new and just for their business. The result is that these companies are able to run differently from their competition - giving them an advantage in their market.


Here are five recommended sessions from SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 where the story of collaborative innovation comes to light.


Cirque du Soleil: Innovate to Engage and Inspire Fans and Consumers

EMC: Improve Competitive Advantage through Co-Innovation

CancerLinQ: Deliver Personalized Medicine through Clinical Innovation

Mercedes-AMG: Journey to Digital Transformation with the Internet of Things

Mohawk: Innovate Your Business for Competitive Advantage


SAP’s approach to innovation, be it for an entire industry or simply one company, includes developing new, breakthrough technologies and best practices that shape and redefine businesses. You might not know that SAP has a line of service called SAP Custom Development. This team partners with individual companies like yours to provide tailor-made, business essential innovations that help you to extract the full value of your SAP investment by bringing your competitively differentiating processes to life. We are ready to innovate with your business to give you that special edge!

Last week at Sapphire, Gary Close, the Director, Enterprise Corrective Action Program at Pacific Gas and Electric explained how his company Empower Employees Through Digital Transformation with an Enterprise Corrective Action Program.


Gary first explained that the “vision was to empower PG&E employees to make a difference.  This is enabled through an ECAP process that would  provide standardized governance and innovative tools for PG&E personnel to easily report, prioritize, track, trend and resolve issues, resulting in an enhanced safety culture, reduced risk and a more efficient and compliant organization”.

Gary explained that Corrective Actions Programs are important to ensure issues are documented and addressed so that you can learn from issues to prevent from happening again. Ultimately, when you can reduce operational risk you achieve smoother operations, improve cost effectiveness and increase customer satisfaction.


The CAP Project at PG&E

The project started in 2014, and when complete, it will replace standalone corrective action programs and roll out a uniform Corrective Action Program across 13 LOBs by end of 2017. The CAP solutions provide an interactive, real time access and reporting, through an easy to use interface, via the web or mobile devices.

The CAP process at PG&E is as follows:

  1. Employee identifies an issue, via a mobile device or a portal
  2. CAP TEAM reviews the issue, categorizes and assesses the risk and assigns an issue owner
  3. Issue Owner performs a cause evaluation and provides a resolution
  4. CAP Team assesses the effectiveness of the resolution


At present, there are 9000 users accessing CAP and to date 81,300 issues have been completed.


Critical Success Factors

Garry highlighted some of the critical success factors of the program.

  • “We can’t fix what we don’t know about”, so it is critical to get user buy in and that they see the value.
  • Funding, and senior executive support is critical to allow the  project team to iterate solution over longer period of time
  • Modeled processes and technology on successful, existing PG&E solutions


Key take Aways

Gary also provided some words of wisdom that are valuable to all companies as they embark on implementation projects:

  • Small Steps for Bigger Goals
  • Value Realization to End Customer
  • Don’t be afraid to adapt
  • Employee Engagement is Critical
  • Roadmap Socialization


My pal Joel Albert commented earlier this week that he admires the energy I put into this community.  It's been a hectic conference; I'll try to capture my flavor of the last day, spiced with commentary about enterprise software and the universe in general, gently baked for a day or two to remove the pungency of central Florida. I'm sure the flora and fauna love the heat, humidity, and rainfall more than I have.  The title also relates to Jon Reed's story of the birthday gift whole fish he dealt with right before leaving for Orlando.


In the morning, rather than sit and listen to the keynote(s), which I could observe from anywhere in the world nearly verbatim via Twitter, I gathered last-minute workload statistics from several of our ECC systems being moved to new platforms this coming weekend.  As I don't have hands-on responsibilities, my task is to observe the before-and-after states to document the return-on-investment, and detect any anomalies needing attention.  As Bill Murray says, "at least I got that going for me."  These conversions are not to HANA systems, nor to in-memory Oracle 12 databases (that might be next), because we decided this is our best next step.  From a few peers I talked to this week, we aren't alone.



A4609 : Using Digital Transformation to Amazon-Proof Your Pharmaceutical Business


Is this a provocative session title?  A bit, yes.  It intrigued me.  Most of the audience were in the Pharma (as they call themselves) business and for the most part suits, which I say with great respect. Practically as soon as Raj Subramanyam finished the introductory business references (he's with CSL Behring LLC, a $5B company not a household name that I know), I tweeted:



"Using digital transformation to amazon proof your pharmaceutical business" #asug2016 "no transactions no tools". Way out of my comfort zone


I can converse with business partners about processes, KPIs, metrics, and the like, but this was a different spin.  In talking about Amazon's successes, the story presented is essentially how to avoid becoming the buggy-whip sales people of the previous century.  It isn't only about competing against Amazon, or just cooperating with them, it's about avoiding having such companies take away your business in one way or another.




Raj claims a developer background, describing writing a game in ABAP (Alvaro Tejada Galindo take note), evolving into his current role as a senior Global Logistics manager. He knows how Amazon works, how companies like FedEx and UPS work, and he sees Amazon biting into the shipping industry as they've bitten the heads off book stores, CD/DVD, etc.  He projects Amazon will own captive transport (not the ABAP kind, the physical kind) channels on the land, in the sea, and in the air.  Not his exact quote, I think that was Winston Churchill, as he detailed more about the sea container business, where he believes there are oceans of optimization opportunities.


Raj also mentioned JET.com, a reference that didn't ring a bell (all I could think of was Jet magazine, which is JetMag.com ). I found a Forbes article, though as that has an ad moat, I'll let you find it with the search terms "recently launched amazon competitor" if you're up for that. That's a tall order there.


The last two example I heard before I dashed off to a parallel universe in the Mentor space: (1) reducing "lot size" to one, in other words focusing on a single customer, and (2) managing recalls with high specificity to avoid costs, bad press, and wasted time.


After the conference, I found Raj on LinkedIn. Hoping for future collaboration and communication.



Thomas Saueressig Succeeds Helen Arnold as CIO


That was part of the Wall Street Journal headline; here is the SAP press release link:




As an SAP Mentor, I am privileged to be invited to meetings with all levels of SAP management, which can be daunting at times.  As people have different personalities, I may identify more closely with some than others.  To just be in the same room and hear the style, general plans, and perspective of those who are definitely play in a different world than I, is a learning experience to say the least.  The picture below is one of my sometimes too candid shots, so apologies in advance to my great friend Susan Keohan for snapping this where she had a deer-in-the-headlight moment, and also for catching Abdulbasit Gulsen peering into his mobile (I also cropped this for reasons not worth mentioning); I guess the worst shot is the one you didn't take.


Thomas is great, from the few minutes I was able to meet him.  The Mentors had good questions, basic ones relating to his youth and newness to the role (officially under 1 month), and what the future will be for his organization.  I look forward to continued progress, not the least being this SAP community platform (Oliver Kohl sat next to me most of the meeting).


Two phrases I took away: "revenue recognition" and "long tail". I take that to mean not everything is cloud-ready, yet can't be sunsetted,




And here is Oliver Kohl presenting on exactly that (new SCN), about two hours later.




Between these two times, I gave the "simple lunch" tip to Oliver, Martin Lang about grabbing food on the third floor, where ASUG sessions are presented, rather than the very long walk to the backside of the show room floor.  Paul Aschmann joined us as well, and I got great tips about consumer electronics, Evernote, Spotify, and some kind of personal cloud. Paul told me about cal.sap.com, though he wasn't quite sure that was the URL, for AWS templates that make Netweaver provisioning easier.  I will put him on speed dial when that time comes.


A4958 : SAP Intelligent Business Operations, powered by SAP HANA









Peter McNulty, a great friend who has collaborated with me on many ASUG sessions, and Venugopal "Venu" Chembrakalathi presented on the latest in business process management, or process intelligence. Of course, HANA is in the title, though the content was more about end user experience and operations than the supporting technology stack.  They demonstrated multiple KPI tokens (or panels, or tiles) on a single screen. It was not a flamboyant dashboard, leaving the observer to use their imagination to "connect the dots" and determine how powerful this tool can be.


Peter differentiated process intelligence from similar views such as application performance management, or the classic/legacy views of workload analysis that many of us still employ, by describing the target audiences for the views.  Rather than a business warehouse, which would show trending from a historic perspective (even in HANA views), this attempts to display projected gaps on an immediate basis.  Peter said the event or record collection is "source agnostic" so not tied to a typical transaction-to-reporting-system chain.


The business scenario described was automobile accident management from the perspective of an insurance adjuster, collaborating with their customer, and with multiple third parties such as car rentals, repair shops, etc.  To make the unhappy experience of such an event easier on the client, views into the interactions and handoff of multiple sub-processes can highlight bottlenecks and delays.  Coordinating availability of alternate transportation for maximum convenience but minimal cost is a clear improvement area. On one of the slides or demo views, two values were listed related (at least in my mind) to MTTR - Mean Time To Repair.  One was a projected date and the other was a planned or similar date.  As both terms seemed synonymous to me, I asked Peter to clarify.  He said one metric was given to the customer (availability promise) and the other was an internal projection of calculated delivery time (operational delivery).  Peter agreed that the display was unclear about which number mean what.  The purpose of showing the internal data was to give the operations team a view into where delays could be occurring so they would have time to correct.


The time slot was rough, the content quite specific, leading to few attendees, which is a shame because I think these techniques have much greater immediate adoption potential than some other HANA-related scenarios I've seen.



Jim Spath @jspath55    May 19

S330F With @mcnultyp on intelligent business operations #sapphirenow #asug2016 plenty of seats! Come on down! Er up.


Peter said the attendance at a session with "order to cash" in the title was packed.  We should not skimp on the marketing side - catchy titles can draw crowds.






The SAP Press team [i.e. Kelly Weaver ] had a choice spot at the top of the escalators/stairs down to the show floor.  On my small data sample, it seemed like the last day was better attended than earlier days, maybe because people would defer carrying the paper with them until as late as possible.  The register line was 10 to 15 people when I took these shots. I don't know if there was the same last day motivation that booth swag pushers have ("take this so we don't need to pay to ship it back home').  I didn't buy anything; my bags were tight already.





BSOD; continuing my streak of having something go wrong during the conference.  Fortunately no data loss.  I also continued attempts to use the Dropbox text editor to keep occasional notes, but without complete success. In some cases, I scribbled on the paper notebook provided by a vendor (as I jokingly called them "No Huawei", "Yes, Huawei"), or typed on my PC with Emacs, or tweeted (way to keep the content public; as Brad Paisley sang on Prairie Home Companion the other week, "the internet is forever").



A1706 : How Texas Instruments Leverages SAP LVM to Manage Complex System Landscapes



The final ASUG education session I attended had more people in the audience than I would have expected at 3:30 PM on the last day.  Maybe the impending evening concert kept people in the OCCC, or maybe it was the frequent rain showers, but whatever the cause, Basis and infrastructure content still draws.  For those unfamiliar with the acronym, LVM is "Landscape Virtualization Management" (auto-corrected to "Landscape Visualization Management" in the ASUG session description I had), originally known by an equally cryptic moniker "Adaptive Computing Controller (ACC)".


The presenters ( Mike Spry and Asif Rahmetulla ) gave background on the complexity of their business systems; like other customers who have evolved enterprise software stacks over time (decades) they have many SAP products, different release levels, and tie them together with (hopefully) best-of-breed components.


In prior years, I was introduced to the ACC when it was a "free" SAP tool.  As it has matured and evolved, it's no longer free, has a new name, and does more than ever.  We don't use it in my shop; after this session I may bring it back up for reevaluation.


You might think the "Virtualization" title implies competition with OS virtualization such as Xen, VMWare, PowerVM, and the like, but this tool is a higher level and broader focus.  It can complement those in coordination with SAP application management.  Best not to separate those stacks if feasible.


The presentation covered a lot of ground from a Netweaver/Basis perspective and I'll focus on one area I deal with in my role, that of workload automation.  Some might call that "batch job management"; I see it as more of business process management operations, as data and content flow among systems.  They talked about one way they have leveraged LWS in the shutdown and startup of SAP systems during maintenance windows.






With a typical 4 hour window, shutting down the systems can't start until the window opens, and time spent quiescing the application and all parts of the stack is time lost in administration (the reason for the shutdown in the first place, such as patches, hardware or parameter changes, etc). In the second screen shot above, the baseline duration that had built up was 37 minutes.  Automating tasks that would be done by people, as well as parallelizing multiple steps, can take time out of that part of their schedule, giving more time to hands-on work.


My company has automated similar tasks using an enterprise scheduler, so comparing the LVM approach to that brought up a few questions.  Enterprise scheduling could cover all application and infrastructure teams; this tool covers primarily Basis, in my view.  I asked how the two management tools could interact, as we would not replace a global scheduler that interacts with many applications (primarily holding up batch transactions during tech support maintenance windows).  The short answer was there is an API for that.  I'll need to investigate the ease-of-use (some APIs are better than others, frankly) and find some reference customers.


After the presentation, an SAP person came over to ask me about my interface question.  I explained what I do with scheduling, and after he introduced himself [ Markus WINTER ] I mentioned I knew Gunther Schmalzhaf from previous conferences.  Markus' title is "Chief Product Owner, Cloud Management".  Definitely a contact for the books.




Links for LVM:






While the ASUG tracks were over, SAP Mentors stayed busy networking with SAP resources to the end of the day.  A couple shots follow...




Jason taking the Mentor pulse, handing out assignments, and passing out the swag (no entitlements, but sometimes pleasant surprises).  I missed the raffle by one digit, more or less.










I saw pictures of Marc Oliver Schaefer in tweet streams.  Another long-term collaborator in ASUG sessions on Business Configuration Sets, Marc and I did not meet physically this time and have reconnected after many years, on Twitter of all places.  Maybe new SCN will enable further collaborations.  And I will learn what "Focused SAP" means.


Working the ASUG booth one day, a gentleman stopped by and we conversed about user groups.  Turns out he is the Executive Director of JSUG, the Japan SAP Users Group.  Fascinating dialogue comparing our perspectives.


At the Amazon booth, another (I know you're tired of hearing about my old friends - I did make new ones, honest) former ASUG colleague now with AWS shared updates on their newly-announced certified platform for SAP ECC (call it what you will).  I looked here:


SAP Standard Application Benchmarks

but did not see the published benchmark.  Perhaps by the time you read this the document will have passed muster and been posted.  I look forward to comparing these.  Note these cloud benchmarks are all SQL-Server based, including multiple vendors. No other databases.



Thorns, Roses and Butterflies


Jason Cao had the Mentors give "one thing you liked and one thing that needs improving" about the conference during our first "debrief" session, so here is my spin in that sense for the entire conference, noting I wore multiple hats.  One of each category only.  Others will come to mind anyway.


  • Thorn: Probably the conference app was my biggest pain this week.  I didn't install it as I disagreed with the allowed privileges, which meant I could not rate any ASUG sessions. In concert with this, the agenda builder once again does not list speakers; finding out who spoke is unnecessarily difficult. I have yet to try to download session slides and hope that is a better experience.
  • Rose: Networking this week was top notch.  Met new friends, renewed previous collaborations, and am taking great insights back to the office.
  • Butterfly: I wish, like Vijay, that I could attend more sessions, visit more booths, and figure out where everyone was.







What is the future of work and are you ready for it? And how does digital transformation tie into this? These are questions being asked by top business leaders around the world.


Clearly, digital transformation in the business world is happening at an increasing rapid pace.  Leaders are leveraging technology to re-invent and transform their businesses into the digital age – an age where data and information have never been more prevalent and more accessible, particularly with mobile devices.


While technology impacts a variety of facets of business, one of the main ways it is doing so is through its workforce. The digital economy we live in today is creating an incredibly dynamic, interconnected workforce that is impacting the way that leaders work with and manage their people. In the future, an even more hyper-connected world is inevitable. A recent study with Oxford University revealed that there are specific principles of a strong leader in a digital era. These principles include: technology informing operations, management being technologically literate, a focus on developing employee skills, decisions that are data-driven, and the desire to reduce complexity. Of note, this study interviewed more than 2,000+ executives, and 2,000+ employees – and 20% of the executives were millennials. In linking digital transformation to the workforce, the study further supported the notion that top leaders are embracing digital transformation and seeing the results of doing so. For example, leaders of digital transformation are 38% more likely to report strong financial performance and boost 38% higher employee retention.

So, if these findings are conclusive, why is it that only 16% of leaders say that they are successfully digitally transforming their companies? You could answer this with the typical response: lack of resources, or budget. However, I would like to suggest an alternate point-of-view. Perhaps, it is because many companies need simply fail to that investment in people is essential to this transformation. You need to take your workforce along with you on this transformational journey. Your workforce has to be enabled with the latest technology and tools to be successful. This week at SAPPHIRE, SAP’s annual customer and partner event, I was able to see demos of some exciting new workforce tools including: a business suitcase tracking with Concur; Outlook instant approvals for contingent workforce procurement; and the intelligent HR services offered through SuccessFactors such as an automatic recommended to-do list. Collectively, these and other similar tools can make a difference in the work lives of employees!


Let’s conclude with this—leaders must invest in people AND technology to successfully move their businesses into the digital age and to successfully transform themselves. Companies that are able to successfully do this will see more engaged employees, stronger financial performance, and more diversity in the workforce. Let’s start realizing these benefits now. The future is now. The #futureofwork starts now.

After two days of marathons of walking, talking, learning, and networking, you might think that on day 3 of the show the energy level would decrease a bit at the industry campus at SAPPHIRE NOW. But of course there were enough highlights not to miss. Fatigue was simply not an option.


Highlight 1: S/4HANA – Should You, and If So, When and How?

First and foremost, many of our customers ask the question if, when and how they should move to SAP S/4HANA. The panel discussion “Embrace digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA” with the panlelists Ethan Kennelly, Director Enterprise Architecture with O.C. Tanner, Laetitia Debout, Business Relationship Manager with McInnis Cement, Ajit Shriram, Joint Managing Director with DCM Shriram and Anil Mandot, Senior Joint President ( Commercial) with Mangalam Cement, shed some light on these questions.


Here are some key messages from the discussion: The reasons to move to SAP S/4HANA varies from case to case. Sometimes the pace of innovation drives the requirement for a flexible platform, sometimes growth across geographies increases complexity in a way traditional software cannot handle it anymore.


When moving to SAP S/4HANA, the question standardization versus customization comes up quickly. The recommendation from the panel was to only customize processes that are strategic differentiators for a company. One panelist even only customizes if it is justified through a business case. During the implementation of SAP S/4HANA an agile approach was preferred by the panelists - start small but prove that the processes work fast, and use them. To overcome resistances from the end users to change systems, the following best practices were recommended: Explain the benefits, get people involved to find out the value to the customers and how things can be done more easily, and last not least actually show and make it visible how the solution works. Engage employees across the enterprise, build a change management team, and conduct extensive user trainings


As concluding remarks, the panel gave some valuable advices to consider when going digital: be crystal clear why you want to move ahead before starting the project and don't wait forever for the next innovation. It will self realize where you are next. If there are symptoms around today that indicate what is on the horizon, get up to speed, simplify and get the best time to value to avoid you are in trouble tomorrow.



Highlight 2: Networked Economy, Examples: 1. The Digital Retailer and a Football Game; 2. New Travel Experience


Imagine there is a football game in your town next weekend. It is almost there already everywhere: TV, ads, promotions all over the place, parties being planned. How can a single grocery store make a success for the fans and for their own sales? Predictive analytics and networks are the answer!


Here is a scenario that illustrates how it works. The promotions planner of the grocery store analyze the results of similar past promotions to conclude the best strategy. Further, other parallel promotions can be taken into account to avoid any cannibalization effects. After the promotion has been designed, the right customers can be targeted. Talking about the consumers, let's have a look at a fan, Candy, organizing a party for the game. Candy has many friends, so she figures she needs to buy some extra chairs and tables, so she plans an extra shopping tour for that part in addition to buying her food. Candy gets a customer loyalty e-mail with the promotion for the game from the grocery store, which is a perfect fit to her needs, so she starts putting together her shopping list online in this store. While putting together her basket, she finds party chairs and tables on the website - a nice surprise since she was not aware the same store was selling them. Now she can save some time as she can buy all at once. Meanwhile, the store manager checks with his mobile phone what is already in the store, what is in the back room, and which replenishments will come in next. The chair vendor sees the order in the Ariba portal and creates an invoice that is automatically checked against errors and that contains a discount for early payments improving working capital. Candy goes to the store to pick up the food from the shopping list she already paid online. She also adds some coffee, cheese and milk which she was running out that morning. While checking out, there is complete visibility what was already paid and the missing additional amount. After the game, the promotions manager can analyze the results of the promotion and finds out the number of average orders went up because they offered the chairs for the first time. In the end, all parties won: Candy threw a fantastic party, and the store achieved an uplift in sales.


Next example on the networked economy is all about improving the travel experience. By connecting the HANA Cloud platform to Amazon’s Alexa, travelers can book their trip like never before. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables a more conversational engagement for booking and planning trips, allowing for a virtual travel assistant that everyone can afford. SAP is leveraging innovation from leading technologies like the Amazon development platform to bring the very latest in customer engagement to the market.


Highlight 3: IoT Scenrios: Connected Footwear Enabled by SAP Retail and Smart Cities Powered by Philips and SAP


The demo session “Connected footwear – how is wearable technology changing retail?” gave new inspirational ideas on how SAP can help overcome the following challenges: How can retailers sell products to the right consumers at the right time? And how can they better understand what triggers the buying moment? There is certainly not the one and only answer to these questions, but the IoT can definitely be a step into the right direction. Take the example of wearables. Or even more specific, a sports shoe with sensors in the sole. Traditionally, retailers send promotions to all customers who opted into a customer retention program, and hope to catch some fishes with this offer. At the same time, the offer is lost by those consumers who are still happily using the product. If a smart shoe indicates that the sole is getting pretty thin, in other words the point of the next purchase is very close, the retailer can personalize his offer and the timing. Putting this one level up, the retailer can monitor across regions where the need of new shoes is the highest at a certain point in time and adjust the campaigns accordingly. When the order comes in, and the consumer wants to know if the product is in store, the sales rep can order it through the Ariba Supply Network, and make sure the shoe is ready for pick up at the desired date and includes the promotional discount. This new purchase is registered again in the system so that the retailer can monitor again the signal and react in them smartly. Overall, the interactions get much closer to the consumers, and the customer relationship is deepened.


As a second IoT example, Philips showed how to unlock the $60B connected lighting market. They asked themselves: can lighting go beyond illumination? Their answer was clearly a "yes"! For Philips, lighting is information, provides orientation and can create emotions. Specifically, lighting in cities determines the perceived safety and delivers a major part of a city's identity. Infrastructures for lightening are extremely complex, and they are subject to energy cost. Therefore, cities need to manage their assets smartly: how many lights are working, how much energy do they consume, and do they actually run when they are supposed to and don't run when they are not to? Achieving this transparency and reacting quickly when needed is challenging. Connecting the assets digitally helps to provide the right amount of light at the right time and place. LEDs with PCDs inside make this possible; it is pretty straightforward to add communications on top and connect it to the Internet. That way, additional features like changing the colors of the light depending on specific events becomes pretty easy. Lighting infrastructures are subject to risk, such as failure risk or risk of skyrocketing energy prices. Who should take the risk? It could be the municipal or it could be transferred to a dedicated service provider - which is actually the current trend. But what about the risk associated with external partners. Again, connected lighting is the answer. Connected lighting enables to better understand if the third party is doing their job well as measurement of the KPIs is already part of the infrastructure.






And yes, I can only echo that lighting does make a difference. If someone had any doubt about this, the Coldplay concert, a highlight that definitely has to be mentioned that happening after the official SAPPHIRE NOW program, proved it differently. As if the live music itself, the British politeness and humor of the singer, and the light show on stage would have not been enough, they gave each person in the audience wrist bands that were parts of the light show – a spectacular effect. With these images in mind, I very much look forward to SAPPHIRE NOW 2017 already!

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


Stability, ubiquity, quality, and a large following of customers across all sizes and industries. That's the legacy of being in business for over 44 years, especially when you’re a multinational company that has successfully navigated and transitioned across several waves of technology and change. But at the end of the day, companies like SAP and the many partners and customers within our overall ecosystem are composed of people. In this case, extraordinary talent who build products, deliver services, and provide endless ideas and creativity for innovation.

As thousands of people converged in Orlando for the closing day of SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG 2016, I was reminded of one aspect of leadership: Being a visionary.

Hasso Plattner: Celebrating visionaries

Co-founder of SAP and still very active in the business as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of SAP, Hasso Plattner could easily be the prototype for “the most interesting man in the world.” He’s truly a renaissance man. He’s an avid sportsman who is majority owner of the San Jose Sharks hockey team and the SAP Center Arena. Time magazine in Europe once called him the most influential person in IT. He is also an active philanthropist involved in many great causes – and that commitment is greatly reflected in how SAP engages in corporate and social responsibility.


I could go on and on, but Hasso is foremost an educator. The Hasso Plattner Institute at the University of Potsdam and the Design Thinking Institute at Stanford University deliver learning experiences that help students understand customers and drive innovations.

There’s no debate in my mind that Hasso Plattner is an incredible person. From the very beginning of SAP, he and his colleagues ignored all advice insisting that there was no need or demand for an integrated software suite and platform. They literally invented the modern independent software vendor (ISV) industry as we now know it today. That’s a fundamental aspect of being a visionary – seeing the future and having the conviction and courage to move forward and bring to fruition what others don't see.


A visionary is a leader that convinces others to follow – even when most disagree. Our industry is littered with forgotten company logos of those who failed to do this. Think back to the leaders of our industry from over 40 years ago. Some are still with us – such as Intel, IBM, HP, and Cisco – that have gone through tremendous change. Meanwhile, there are others that are now gone. A true visionary guides their organization through change. But unlike Sherpas who guide others in single journeys, great visionaries do this year after year. All the while, their success builds on itself – and I dare say becomes “legendary.”

After 16 years at SAP, 14 SAPPHIRE NOW events, and 25 years in the SAP ecosystem, I truly believe Hasso Plattner is still an transformational force in our company, our business, and our industry. A truly great visionary is also long-lasting, and Hasso embodies that and so much more. As our ASUG user community celebrates 25 years, cheers to an amazing visionary, Hasso Plattner, and his legacy.


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



One of the hottest topics at the SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 campus of SAP Digital Business Services has certainly been SAP Solution Manager. The related SAP Solution Manager demo theater sessions so far have always been extremely packed. Customers also appreciated to pick up their free eBook voucher for the latest SolMan book at our campus and at the respective SAP Solution Manager expert table there have been very lively discussions:




I had the chance to speak to some of the SAP experts that are on-site at the event in Orlando and based on these talks I want to provide you with the latest news about SAP Solution Manager 7.2. Please note that some of the information in this blog is the current state of planning and may be changed by SAP at any time. But now let’s listen to a short video message from Tim Steuer, Program Lead SAP Solution Manager, providing some highlights about the new release:

In the following snapshots you see the SAP Solution Manager release schedule as well as the roadmap being designed with swag during one of the SAPPHIRE NOW sessions:






Now let me also provide you with some insights on why you may choose SAP Solution Manager on HANA. You will receive more value through in-memory technology. First of all, the performance increase is obvious. This includes for instance drastically faster text search functionality that opens new opportunities e.g. to work with documents, service reports, and ITSM tickets.

In addition, as I have already highlighted in my SolMan SAPPHIRE NOW update from 2015 named Get an Exclusive Update on SAP Solution Manager 7.2, there is no additional SAP HANA license fee for SAP Solution Manager. This means SAP HANA for SAP Solution Manager 7.2 is delivered for free within your support agreement. Moreover, if SAP HANA is the only platform at your company, SAP Solution Manager 7.2 is your perfect lifecycle management platform.

SAP Solution Manager may act as a door opener per se for SAP HANA as it may be the initial system in a general plan to migrate to SAP HANA, sort of to become familiar with it first of all. Please also keep in mind that SAP recommends to execute your upgrade to SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and your migration to SAP HANA in one go.

Another hot topic related to SAP Solution Manager are the newly introduced focused solutions. Check out this blog post Big News About SAP Solution Manager: Announcing Focused Solutions by Marc Oliver Schaefer for further information. Focused Solutions for SAP Solution Manager deliver solutions for specific requirements, avoiding custom code and partner solutions. What does this mean in a nutshell:

  • No coding cost: SAP delivers a standard solution
  • Significantly less training cost: SAP delivers all knowledge required
  • No upgrade risk: SAP delivers standard upgrades
  • No integration issues: SAP delivers based on SAP Solution Manager standard

To get more information on this topic I recommend to check out this video interview with Marc Oliver Schaefer, Chief Solution Architect, and Gaurav Jaiswal, VP SAP Digital Business Services:

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.

Today was another energizing day at the Industries campus.     


Like yesterday, here are just a few of the many memorable sessions.  In the session, “Digital @ the Speed of Consumer,” Steve Soderberg along with SAP’s Lori Mitchell-Keller discussed Fitbit’s success with SAP S/4HANA to a packed theater. The session began with a discussion on consumer expectations.  Consumers increasingly expect to get exactly what they want at the right moment and at the right place. Therefore, consumer businesses need to rethink what their customers really want, and how they will interact with them. New models already include personalized offers, omnichannel commerce and outcome-based pricing. Putting the customer at the center of all decisions necessitates fully connected end-to-end processes. Technologies like digital networks, predictive analytics, virtual reality and 3D printing will enable massive changes in business models and processes. Fitbit demonstrates nicely how a great product can be reimagined. Measuring biometric data like heart rates and individual activities like the number of steps taken in real time already provides a benefit to health conscience consumers - this was how the massive success of this brand started. As a result Fitbit has captured what is probably the largest biometric database in the world. Yet, Fitbit does not stop there. By analyzing the aggregated data, they are also able to give advice back to their customers elevating their customer relationships to that of a digital health / wellness company. With SAP S/4HANA and SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP), they built the foundation to make this vision a reality.  As a testament to the scale of adoption, this past Christmas Day, Fitbit activated over 1.5 million devices! 


The session, “Support an Efficient, Quality Chargeback Experience in Digital Distribution,” featured Scansource, a leading international value added distributor of specialty technology products.  The company was founded in 1992 in Greenville, SC.  Why did Scansource upgrade their processes to a more digitally oriented process?  Crystal Selfridge explained, “We were running an old ERP system that was DOS based. It made you feel like you were playing Pac-Man.  We needed to transform to the global company we were.” Retailer Woolworths took the stage today in the session, “Transform HR with People Strategy That Delivers Business Outcomes.”  Woolworths invested in SAP SuccessFactors Talent Management Suite plus core HR/payroll cloud solutions to transform functions and improve HR services and business outcomes for its 170,000 employees.  Alison Merner provided tested advice on how to position a transformational change.  Rather than position a system change she focused on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for all affected employees – things like better visibility, flexible access, elimination of paper-based processing, and more timely decision making capabilities. In other words, tailoring the change management needs to individuals.


During the session, “Build Resilience into Digital Supply Networks by Using Live Business” SAP’s Hans Thalbauer spoke about how customer centricity will change operations tremendously. Omnichannel commerce will increase supply chain complexity dramatically implying a higher risk of larger inventories. Keeping the promise of one-hour shipments means figuring out the last mile. Further, timing becomes critical - e.g. what if an order comes through during Super Bowl? The need for speed can only be fulfilled if demand is predicted correctly, and if all processes run flexibly. Further, individualization of products and production of lot sizes of one make it difficult to keep cost under control. Digitization can help. Suppliers, manufacturing procedures, assets and logistics need to be connected through digital networks, and planning within these areas need to be harmonized. The internet of things, real-time transactions, and predictive analytics will help achieve this.


In “Improve business performance through digitization in life sciences,” Merck & Co., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, turned a single SAP platform into a strategic weapon. The journey started about 10 years ago. At the time they needed to improve visibility into the current state of their business, understand spend data, and accelerate close processes. At that point in time, they had no SAP instance. Starting over from scratch was a great opportunity for Merck & Co. They ambitiously took a very comprehensive approach to optimize financials, sales, accounting, procurement, HR, and production down to the shop floor. Fast forward 10 years, Merck & Co. has retired almost 2000 legacy systems and moved to one platform.


Towards the end of the day Alexis Glick moderated a panel with Reggie Jackson (baseball of famer & entrepreneur), Adrienne Fong (M.R.K.T.) and Andrew Utas (GRAY Gallery).  The panel was called “Reggie Jackson, Art and Design – Discover the Common Thread.”  Today happened to be Reggie’s 70’s birthday, which made his appearance all the more special.  All three entrepreneurs have achieved great success.  SAP Anywhere helped these entrepreneurs realize their visions by using one convenient system to manage the marketing, sales, commerce and inventory aspects of the businesses.




It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the final day of SAPPHIRE NOW this year.  How should you approach it? If you haven’t already visited the showcase demonstrations just outside the keynote, definitely take a look.  Within the industry campus you can connect with experts in your industry, which can really ground your experience as you aim to absorb the conference back home. 


If you aren’t in Orlando this week then check out the live streaming and follow the conversation stream on Twitter.

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

As any proud parent knows, it’s fun to watch our children grow and pave their own way into the world. Within a blink of an eye, my sons and daughter [SD1] went from being pre-teens to teenagers – with a few challenges along the way. Then it hit me: My kids were “twenty-somethings.” I’m still not sure how that happened!

Throughout that time, I’ve been involved with SAP as either a partner or an employee. And like my own kids, it’s been an incredible journey of discovery and learning.

ASUG at 25: A successful team and much more

SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG 2016 in Orlando marked the 25th anniversary of the Americas SAP User Group (ASUG). Ever since its beginning at a SAPPHIRE NOW event in 1991, ASUG has been and continues to be a testimony of adapting to change, embracing innovation and continuous customer centricity, and precisely meeting customer needs.


Today, ASUG has created a community of 140,000 members across more than 3,700 companies and organizations spanning a variety of industries. Over the years, its membership has benefitted from a combination of influence, education, and events and a collection of perspectives from customer experts, practitioners, and thought leaders.

Congrats to ASUG as it reaches “young adulthood” at 25! I’m sure the best is yet to come.

Woz at ASUG: Following your dreams and passions

Over the years, ASUG has hosted a variety of keynote speakers. Some of my favorites include Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways Captain and Pilot who safely landed his US Airways plane in the Hudson River after losing all power an

d engines, and Lance Armstrong, who is a great story of courage and perseverance (once all controversies are set aside). So when ASUG announced that the 2016 keynote would be the great Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and a true pioneer of our industry, I was thrilled.

In the mid-1990s, I ran into Steve Wozniak at an Internet World event in San Jose. He graciously sat down with me and listened to my own story of how his and Steve Jobs’ baby – the Apple II – had transformed my life. I also remember Woz’ passion for education, which led him to later become a schoolteacher. And this was all long before his current legacy that many younger fans know him for – appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” and performing quite well!



The Woz that appeared on stage was the same man that I met that day. He talked about his early interest in electronics, his desire to follow his father’s career as an engineer, and the cool aspects of invention. I especially loved his account of building early computers from components and the genesis of the Apple 1 that started it all.

And with his genius comes great wisdom: Invention is not always innovation. Woz and Jobs were not first, but they were better than others when they introduced Apple II. Needless to say, the rest is history.

As a proponent of education, I loved Woz’ message about following your interests and the value of education. His story of becoming a teacher for an extended period of time after his “retirement” from our industry is great.

How would one best describe Steve Wozniak?  I’ll start with pioneer, innovator, visionary, and, yes, a thought leader as he sat on stage for the ASUG keynote. In my opinion, he is a perfect match for ASUG as it reaches a milestone of 25 years – and I was thrilled to combine the two together.


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


FMI New BLOG MIT March 2016.png

Before the meat of the day, links forwards and backwards to my views on the SapphireNow and ASUG Annual Conference:


DAY 0 Sapphire/ASUG 16 Prep Work |  Day 1 ASUG / Sapphire Starts with a Woz FinishDay 2 | Day 3



My day started not with the ASUG Volunteer breakfast, but with work.  I needed to get a status update back to the office, which required finding a SharePoint folder (one among many), downloading a spreadsheet, saving a local copy in case of wi-fi outage, then doing the needful.  Which means pulling out the incomplete items from the last update, researching which have been completed, which have morphed into a different phase, and which are stuck waiting for the resource bus.  So I decided to do the last parts at the pancake house counter.  And like a car wreck where you can't avert your gaze, I observed the manager chatting with a team member (or whatever their current title is) about the work schedule.




The line cooks had video monitors with tiles showing the unfilled orders, pushable buttons to advance their queue, and they had lots of interaction like "are my eggs ready?" and "who took my eggs?" etc.  But the manager didn't have a smart app similarly pushing around the time slots to accommodate the necessarily fluid food industry work force.  The discussion centered around who could cover for whom.  Maybe their is an app for that. Good managers have a fall back plan just in case.  So that's my BPX tidbit for the day.


Onward to the convention center, I spotted a flash of blue.




I'm sure blue jays are plentiful in some parts of the country, and I love seeing them fly.  If you're wondering what this has to do with SAP and enterprise software, well, sometimes you just need to stop, take a breath, and enjoy the moment.  Particularly when you're heading into the engineered chaos of such a massive event. Plus it's my alma mater mascot.



One of the people in the SAP ecology I had not met, but with whom I have had more than a few blue pencil twitter conversations was the editor and pusher of SAP Press Kelly Grace Weaver [ Kelly Weaver ].  She asked for coffee while I was in the above pancake shop (working) so I posted back with a photo of the large coffee urn sitting precariously next to my laptop keyboard.  The next shot is outside their booth, and while it's fuzzier than the one I tweeted soon after, it's still a nice pose I think.  She wants me to write non-fiction ABAP Detective stories I think.  Pulp. anyone?




Walking the halls, I bumped into an old friend, Dipankar Saha of IBM.  It was great to catch up and find out which sessions he was presenting.  He's authored the book on SAP MII.  Check out his twitter feed for more details: Dipankar Saha (@buddydip) | Twitter


His pictures are clearer than mine, whether that's the phone, a steadier hand, or the overwhelming Florida sunlight at that moment I can't say.



I worked the ASUG booth in the morning, as no sessions during the keynote and no other pressing appointments. One advantage of being a long-term community volunteer is by helping people along the way (pay it forward I guess) they seem genuinely glad to see me, I can ask for their time for my own issues and get terrific responses.  Y'all know where to find me if you need something. So here is Srini Tanikella with ASUG pal Kaela Altman under the cylindrical ASUG hub sign.




Sorry for the large format, but I tried to get the entire log in.  Almost made it.  You should read Srini's post about this conference and the HANA road - SAPPHIRE NOW-2016: A lot more HANA? No, think Business Transformation!



With my colleague Simon To [ Simon To  ],  we hosted an SAP Mentor session with SAP Active Global Support, Kristen Cordell-Labarge [ Kristen Cordell-Labarge ], and Andreas Heckmann [ Andreas Heckmann ].  Under non-disclosure, I cannot be specific about SAP's plans, current state, or "known bugs" but I can talk about a couple general ideas, and about what Andreas stated one year ago at the same Sapphire location (in the YT video linked below).  The new SAP Launchpad uses newer browser technology (not quite sure if it's strictly HTML 5, UI5, Fiori or what), which means customers using older browsers may experience issues.  And who wants an issue when you're trying to solve an issue?  The dilemma is that some customers have locked-in PCs for security reasons, and leave older browsers running due to older applications that don't work on newer browsers.  We faced that in my office as well as some applications get upgraded while others are malingerers.  Not much can be done except provide advice on how to access the site as is.


Andeas talks in the video about a vision where support is not reactive (tickets are such), but either proactive (I'm paraphrasing) or at least, agile enough in the problem report phase that fixes are suggested during the initial contact.  Two ideas he mentions are chat with a support person (non-level one), and scheduled phone sessions. Are we at the point where HAL calls us and says "I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit."? Nah.






Gali Kling Schneider @GKS    7h7 hours ago   Florida, USA

#sapmentors deep in discussion with Andreas Heckmann cc @jspath55


Now, onto the meat, as I think I said above, with the session by Joel Albert - AJJO talking about their re-platform project.  First, images:






I wrote down a lot of notes during Joels' talk (he is one of my mentors, and a predecessor in my current ASUG volunteer role); I will summarize some of my takeaways below.  And I hope to get Joel to do a webcast on this topic given not too many Basis type people attend these events any more.


  • They moved (and are moving) many systems to a new data center and a new OS in two hops.
  • First hop was an OS migration from HP-UX to Linux, inside the old data center.
  • Second hop was a database move to the new data center.
  • They rolled their own method of standing up application servers on the target site before the move.
  • Inventory of interfaces was spotty, requiring much work to identify.
  • To accommodate staged system moves, they cloned their PI system into old/new sites versions
  • Review of ABAP code to find OS dependencies required custom code (like Code Inspector I guess?)
  • They prioritized their testing effort based on risk, as exhaustive testing would be cost-prohibitive.
  • Surprises included ill-documented firewalls, third parties not being in synch, and STMS to multiple sites
  • Happiness was zero post-migration issues for their team
  • Identifying systems that needed to move together was a challenge



Again, a fuzzy picture with Jonathan Becher and the SAP mentors.  I have a clearer image, but as it appears as if Jonathan is yawning, I chose this shot.  We were given a show-floor-tour of SAP's Digital Consumer experience, which I, alas, could not stay for was I had an overlapping customer meeting.  In other words, what we need to know now, not what we need to know in the future.  I will get to the future someday.




I met with a couple people from a well-known consumer electronics company and talked with them for nearly an hour about their "journey-to-cloud".  These kinds of reference calls can be done over the phone, but in-person has so many more advantages it is hard to put a price on it.  There are always coincidences: I had been talking to SAP Mentor Alumni Vijay Vijayasankar about his homeland in India - Kerala - on Monday, and one of my contacts is also from there.  So we had a good human moment (I visited Kerala in 2013) which would not have happened on a long distance connection.





In the ASUG HUB area, some of the roughly 50 SAP Mentors at the show gathered for a debrief, where whoever wanted to speak was asked for one plus and one minus (kinda like the Thorns & Roses I've heard in the Boy Scouts, but minus the Butterfly that is often added for dreaming big).  Mine negative was going to be about too-long keynotes, but I changed it to something about getting more Mentors to the event.  My positive was finding a peer I needed to talk to, while I was waiting to talk to Joel after his session.  Win!






Today at SAPPHIRE NOW, I enjoyed a great presentation from Lori Plate, the director of Enterprise Applications at Johnsonville Sausage, on the company’s implementation of the SAP Demand Signal Management application. Lori is responsible for providing strategy, leadership, management, and development of the Enterprise Applications team implementing and supporting Johnsonville’s SAP, business intelligence (BI), development, and electronic data interchange environments. 


In the session, Lori explained how Johnsonville Sausage “leverages real-time demand signals to improve forecasts, customer satisfaction, and profitability.”


Who Is Johnsonville Sausage?

Johnsonville Sausage is a private, family owned company with over 1,600 employees. The organization runs six manufacturing facilities in the United States and one in Singapore, as well as sales offices in France, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and China. Its products are available in all 50 states of the USA and 40 countries worldwide. The company’s leading sellers include bratwurst, Italian sausage, smoked cooked sausage links, fresh breakfast sausage links, and sausage patties.


Implementing SAP Demand Signal Management at Johnsonville Sausage

Lori explained how Johnsonville selected SAP Demand Signal Management to improve volume forecasting and customer satisfaction while increasing overall profitability.


The project started in March 2014 with an architectural plan, installation, and configuration. The go-live took place nine months later, with retailers gaining visibility into daily point of sale (POS) and stock visibility at both the distribution center and store level. The next phase kicked off in June 2015 with the expansion of reporting to the demand planning component of SAP Advanced Planner and Optimizer. Three months later, in September 2015, two additional retailers went live.


In April 2016, Johnsonville began leveraging syndicated data, which will expand the scope to include visibility of competitors’ stock keeping units and full-market visibility into POS data.


Outlining Johnsonville’s project highlights

Lori discussed some of the highlights of the project to date. So far, Johnsonville has been able to:


  • Obtain a holistic view of customer demand by harmonizing customer POS, inventory, syndicated, and shipment data in one location
  • Gain a single source of truth for both internal and customer data
  • Integrate a universal planning platform that combines
  • Build on the SAP Business Warehouse application powered by the SAP HANA platform, which eliminated performance as a barrier to adoption and provided capabilities for advanced toolsets


Johnsonville is experiencing striking business benefits

Lori also highlighted some key business benefits that Johnsonville Sausage has achieved. To date, the organization has:


  • Closed the gap between sales forecasts and statistically based demand forecasts by providing access to trade promotions, customer data, and sales history
  • Improved new product launches, on-shelf availability, and overall supply chain performance through
  • Increased speed to decision by providing relevant information and insights to decision makers much more quickly using data


Given everything that Johnsonville Sausage has accomplished to date, exciting and successful times are undoubtedly ahead for the company.

Today at SAPPHIRE NOW, Angela Olsen, the principle architect for Supply Chain Planning at Cargill, talked about the company’s supply chain transformation journey using the SAP Integrated Business Planning solution.


Who Is Cargill?

Angela gave a brief overview of Cargill, which is “a global company with more than 150,000 employees who work in nearly 70 businesses, located in 67 countries.” She explained that “Cargill has a singular purpose: to be the global leader in nourishing people.”


This is achieved across four business segments:

  • Food
  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • Finance


Implementing SAP Integrated Business Planning at Cargill

Cargill began its implementation of SAP Integrated Business Planning with a pilot program in the Cargill Salt business, which started in April 2015 with a design workshop. During the summer months, the team conducted an iterative functional build, test, and training approach to enable a production cutover in the fourth quarter of 2015. This enabled a go-live in nine months, in January 2016. The goal of the program, which included SAP Integrated Business Planning for sales and operations and SAP Integrated Business Planning for response and supply, was to enhance the company’s existing sales and operations planning (S&OP) process and increase the robustness of its what-if analysis capabilities.

The second phase involved the Central America Meats business, which applied SAP Integrated Business Planning for sales and operations as well as SAP Integrated Business Planning for demand across four countries: Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. Kicked off in December 2015, the go-live is slated for May 2016.


Cargill is already realizing the business benefits of the transformation

Angela highlighted several of the business benefits that Cargill is seeing through a “single data model tying together supply chain, commercial, and financial information, enabling true integrated business planning processes.”

They include:

  • Generating additional revenue, cost, and margin projections supporting the S&OP process and what-if analysis
  • Increasing efficiencies and capabilities in what-if analysis
  • Enhancing user-friendliness, reducing learning curves, and improving user adoption
  • Enabling real-time analytics and improving decision-making effectiveness
  • Accelerating delivery time
  • Gaining the scalability and flexibility to meet diverse business and process maturity levels


Where does Cargill go from here?

Angela discussed some of the future projects that Cargill is currently considering to enable demand and supply planning across multiple businesses, which will involve replacing its existing legacy planning systems. She also highlighted the importance of good business processes and the company’s plans to enable the Oliver Wight Integrated Business Planning process across specific enterprises.

One thing’s for certain: Transforming its supply chain has made the future at Cargill a whole lot brighter.


Filter Blog

By author:
By date:
By tag: