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SAP talks supply chain, culture, sustainability at Sapphire Now

SAP talks supply chain, culture, sustainability at Sapphire Now

While there were product announcements at SAP's annual conference, Sapphire Now, the two major focuses were sustainability and supply chain, and the people and business processes going on behind the scenes.

photo dj paoni
DJ Paoni, President SAP North America
"I've come to call COVID the great accelerator, and I think the world was already moving much faster, pre-pandemic," SAP North America president DJ Paoni said during a media roundtable. "I think it accelerated so many trends. First and foremost, a company culture, for example, I think was definitely important pre-pandemic. Now you have to win the cultural game."

He explained that as companies come out of the COVID lockdown, employees will be reflecting on their experiences and considering whether to stay with the firm.

"We've certainly done that with a focus on talent, and on employee welfare," he said. "With our SuccessFactors suite of products, we had the best quarter ever, or the best first quarter ever, for SuccessFactors bookings in North America."

In fact, he said, SAP had its biggest cloud bookings quarter in North America this year in Q1 history, with customers spending on digital transformation projects that could take place in 2020.

Julia White, chief marketing and solutions officer and executive board member, has only been with SAP for a few months, but she said that in her previous role as corporate vice president of product marketing for Azure at Microsoft, she has helped a lot of companies in the cloud. I was seen going Piecing together quick and dirty solutions to automate processes or create new workflows.

"Which was fine, as a kind of band-aid, starting the tour," she said. "But it doesn't fundamentally change your business processes. And I think now that the economy is starting to look better, we're turning the corner and in North America, you see now they're like, 'Okay. Well, now let's actually work on modernizing, digitizing the business process layer, not just wrapping it up with different technologies. That's some of the strength that we saw in the first quarter and hopefully going forward, the business process will reach the core of itself."

From Duct Tape to Strategic
Patrick Moorhead, founder, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, noted that he has seen an evolution in the company's responses to COVID from the early survival phase.

"And they started, I say it after triage, where it's like, 'We're going to stay in business, but we need to put strong duct tape on the system.' But I think we're entering an area right now -- and I think that's geography dependent on where COVID is -- it's becoming more of a strategic base, which is to hold everything together. As opposed to using duct tape, it's really 'Hey, let's look at some of our basic systems here,'" he observed.

Given that trend, he wondered what strategic areas SAP was seeing customers re-engage.

The past 12-18 months have exposed deficiencies in supply chains, Paoni responded, and companies that had more sophisticated supply chains were more likely to survive and thrive. This makes it an investment area with e-commerce. Another area, White added, is employee experience, which also includes sentiment analysis.

Canada's perspective

The Canadian mid-market is getting additional attention at SAP these days thanks to the appointment of Gina Izumi as the first senior vice president of sales for growth markets for SAP Canada in January 2021.

The new role focuses on companies with revenues of $1 billion or less and the partner ecosystem serving them, as well as enterprise customers that do not use SAP ERP systems. And, Izumi said, the C-levels she talks about are all focused on growth and innovation; With SAP's cloud solutions, even mid-market customers can take advantage of SAP's nearly 50 years of best practices that are embedded in the solutions.

“The pandemic really brought the topic of supply chain into the mainstream,” she said, describing an innovation day that SAP hosted for a customer who was looking for planning assistance. The customer brought 40 people from all departments to the virtual event.

"It wasn't just your typical supply chain people, though, it was other lines of business, like finance, like HR, manufacturing. I think there was a CEO on the CX side. They all participated in that, and such There were core components that fit them as well, but much of it was around the supply chain,” she said. “And so when I say it's becoming mainstream, it was a great example where people said, ' Wow, I didn't know technology could do that. I had no idea AI or machine learning was so advanced', and they were very excited about what the future held for them."

Sustainability is another theme that resonates with Canadian customers, Izumi said. In his keynote, SAP CEO Christian Klein advocated making sustainability a business metric along with growth and profitability, and launched a number of initiatives to help do so, something Izumi took on. are excited.

"These new offerings that SAP is bringing allow us to do that, allow us to measure it so that we can take meaningful action," she said. "And I think SAP is providing that kind of standard reporting and analytics, and if we can go ahead again and help set those global standards. I think it's really going to help the world." going to be beneficial."

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