For SAP consultants looking to future-proof their careers, developing deep expertise in specialized high-demand solution areas is a smart strategic move.
While broad SAP knowledge has value, becoming a recognized authority and thought leader in targeted areas of SAP can differentiate you and provide more job security, rewards and career advancement.
In this post, we’ll explore proven methods and practical steps for SAP consultants to build expertise in high-demand or niche areas through project experience, independent learning, community participation, and more.
Why Specialize in In-Demand Niches?
There are compelling reasons for SAP consultants to focus on acquiring specialist-level skills in specific high-value SAP niches:
When your capabilities align directly to top SAP priorities like cloud migration and intelligent technologies, you will be in high demand for lucrative contracts and roles. Your involvement in projects will provide added-value and help customers to achieve business goals.
Establishing yourself in a specialty accelerates your skills beyond what generalist roles provide. You become a sought-after expert and so can demand higher compensation for your services once you have a proven track record.
Critical business processes rely on certain SAP solutions and customers will invest to retain experts like yourself, meaning greater job security as an SAP consultant if you align your skills to key strategic priorities.
When you build your brand as a leader known for navigating complex challenges in your specialty area your unique experience makes you stand out.
Within a niche, every client use case provides new and unique problems to solve. This variety keeps your work engaging.
Specialist expertise also gives you the practical experience to lead teams and progress into executive ranks.
With these benefits in mind, here are some suggested niches and methods for developing deep expertise as an SAP specialist.
Recommended High-Demand SAP Niches
Promising areas of SAP in which to specialize include:
SAP S/4HANA Cloud – As businesses accelerate cloud migration, consultants expert at transitioning on-premise ERPs to S/4HANA Cloud are in extreme demand. With experience in cloud integration, data migration, landscape transformation, and hybrid deployments you will be a high-value contributor.
Intelligent Enterprise Solutions – SAP’s new generation of intelligent capabilities like automation, AI, ML, and analytics are transforming organizations. Become an expert in intelligent solutions like SAP Intelligent RPA, Analytics Cloud, Data Intelligence and Business Technology Platform to future-proof you career.
SAP Customer Experience (CX) – With C/4HANA and CX solutions, SAP is expanding beyond ERP into CRM, marketing and commerce. CX expertise is needed in front-office processes and technologies like service, sales, marketing and omnichannel data.
SAP Human Experience Management (HXM) – From SuccessFactors HCM to Qualtrics XM, SAP’s HXM solutions support evolving workforce and operational priorities. Specialize in high-value focus areas within this portfolio.
SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) – As the underpinning integration layer and innovation platform for SAP’s suite, BTP capabilities like integration, automation, extension development and workflow are essential. Master low-code/no-code skills in SAP to provide fast, tailored solutions and extensions for SAP systems which integrate seamlessly.
SAP Analytics – Data-driven decision making depends on analytics solutions like BW, BI, Planning, and Analytics Cloud. Combine data warehousing knowledge with data visualization and storytelling abilities. This makes you a desirable partner for any customer looking to improve their business processes.
SAP Ariba and Fieldglass – SAP’s network-based procurement and contingent workforce solutions require hands-on expertise. Develop specializations in sourcing, contracts, inventory optimization, services procurement, VMS and freelancer management for this area.
SAP Industry Cloud Solutions – Vertical use cases need experts with deep industry and SAP solution knowledge. Target high-growth sectors like utilities, healthcare, retail or public sector by becoming familiar with how these industries run their operations, and solutions from SAP that are ideal for these sectors.
Now we have established the reasons why specialism in high-demand and niche areas of SAP can be a great move for your career as an SAP consultant, as well as some areas to consider, here are proven methods for SAP consultants to build specialist-grade skills and experience.
Get Hands-On Project Experience
Direct hands-on experience with real-world implementations is the fastest way to build specialized skills and a reputation for being a reliable SAP consultant.
Take on niche SAP project work assignments, even if they pay less initially, to get experience and concrete case studies for your resumé (CV). Actively look for opportunities that will stretch your niche capabilities into new areas.
If your current role is too generalized, consider changing employers or at least switching departments/teams to find a position that offers new niche project experience. Do your research to find employers recognized for expertise in your chosen specialty area.
Find out short-term and pilot project opportunities related to your niche specialty. These let you rapidly gain skills with minimal risk for the client or employer. Make a case for how both parties can benefit during a trial engagement.
Offer to deliver pro bono or heavily discounted niche services to non-profits, small businesses, or early-stage startups that have needs but limited budgets. The lower stakes allow room to sharpen abilities while benefiting deserving organizations.
Explore working as an independent SAP contractor for niche project engagements for exposure to different environments requiring specialized skills. Look for contracts where you can consult for both SAP customers and implementation partners focused on your targeted niche solution area.
Align your niche skills development to industry sectors that have the greatest appetite and long-term demand for your chosen SAP specialty. For example, public sector and utilities are strong potential targets for S/4HANA Cloud experts, while retail and manufacturing present opportunities to apply SAP CX solutions.
Getting involved in as many real-life niche implementation scenarios as possible accelerates practical mastery far beyond just reading or training alone. Take advantage of every hands-on experiential learning opportunity to transform niche knowledge into expert-level skills.
Immerse Yourself, Shadow Experts and Get Mentored
Follow niche learning portals, knowledge bases, roadmaps, help sites and user groups to stay updated. Attend virtual and in-person SAP events, and training focused on your niche solution area.
Read books, publications, analyst reports, and emerging research related to your niche, but also experiment hands-on with niche solution test drives, virtual labs, and sandbox systems to gain practical experience.
Learning from seasoned veterans in your niche accelerates skills development, so identify well-respected experts known for delivering exceptional work in your SAP specialty. Ask if you can shadow them, observing their projects to learn from their approach. Be willing to take on extra duties in exchange for the opportunity.
Look for an experienced mentor who is willing to coach you more extensively in your chosen solution area. Set up regular sessions to review your work and get their feedback on where you can improve.
Build relationships through networking with talented client enterprise architects, process owners and SAP coordinators in your niche. Ask if they would be open to occasionally reviewing your work or if you could reach out with niche-related questions while you build your expertise. Offer your help in return.
Attend SAP user-group meetings for your niche. Approach speakers and participants who stand out as experts. Politely ask if they have time for a quick discussion so you can learn from their perspective.
Schedule job shadow days with other teams in your company that focus on your specialty. Sit in on client meetings and project work to observe how they apply niche knowledge. Be respectful of their time.
Build links with academics or instructors teaching an SAP curriculum in your niche through universities and training programs. Ask if they will mentor you in exchange for real-world guest speaking opportunities for their classes.
Immersing yourself and learning from those with decades of experience can help fast track your niche skills. Be proactive in seeking seasoned experts who can guide you.
Build External Niche Network
Expanding your network creates more opportunities to learn from and collaborate with fellow specialists.
Connect and engage on LinkedIn and XING with other consultants, freelancers, architects, and implementation leads who are doing exceptional work in your specialty. Follow their posts and begin dialogues to exchange insights.
Develop partnerships with peers and niche solution providers to jointly pursue projects combining your complementary specialisms. This expands your experience and supportive relationships.
Build relationships with influential authors, bloggers, speakers, researchers, and thought leaders aligned to your targeted niche through social media, emails, and in-person events. Offer to reciprocate by sharing their work with your network.
Follow relevant SAP product experts, development leads, solution architects, and product managers on social channels. Provide thoughtful comments on their content to build a genuine connection.
Search sites for local user groups and meetings focused on your SAP niche. Attend consistently and start conversations with other experts in the group. Follow hashtags like #S4HANA or #SAPAnalytics to find forums discussing your niche.
Identify SAP customers with large teams in your niche. Politely ask to take their top architects out for coffee to exchange knowledge. Make it more of a learning discussion than a sales pitch.
Apply for advisory panels, technical committees, and working groups advancing niche solution practices through SAP channels or industry associations. This raises your profile as an expert.
Surrounding yourself with a network of highly-experienced specialists accelerates your mastery in a specialism and provides collaboration opportunities.
Create Thought Leadership Content And Teach Others
The best way to cement knowledge is to teach it. Develop e-learnings, blogs, videos and workshops to educate others on your niche. Coach and mentor junior consultants to help them cultivate niche skills and carry your knowledge forward.
Establish your authority by writing blogs, white papers, ebooks, contributing to industry publications. Create a podcast or video content like webinars and YouTube tutorials to demonstrate and share your knowledge.
Once you have established a reputation, develop niche-focused presentations and workshops to submit to SAP and industry conferences. Offer to co-author content for SAP’s learning channels or to speak at SAP events about your specialty.
If qualified, apply for SAP Mentor status and guide other SAP community members.
Make it a habit to continually learn about new SAP capabilities, methodologies, integration patterns and use cases in your specialism as new solutions and capabilities from SAP are continually being developed which will change best practice.
Understand how emerging innovations like automation, IoT, artificial intelligence and blockchain apply to and augment your specialty.
By focusing intently on building skills, knowledge and visibility in targeted in-demand SAP solution areas, you can become a recognized niche expert and thought leader. This will directly affect what opportunities are offered to you.
Charting Your Niche Journey
While a foundation of broad SAP knowledge is important, proactively developing expertise in specialized high-value SAP solution areas can truly amplify opportunities and rewards for SAP consultants.
Assess where demand is headed, identify niche domains aligned to your strengths and interests, and start actively cultivating specialized skills and experience so you can lead when required.
Make sure you apply your knowledge in practical situations on a daily basis if possible. The most respect is reserved for SAP consultants who have a proven and practical track record as leaders in their field.
Are you an SAP consultant with a clear specialism? Our teams can help you find your target employer and negotiate a compensation package which reflects your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive professional community at IgniteSAP.