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SAP Partner Co-Innovation

SAP has said it intends to help the world’s businesses run better as a network of sustainable and intelligent enterprises. This highly ambitious goal cannot be achieved without the help of numerous partners.

Customer success is central to this strategy, and in recent years the role of SAP’s partners has changed to reflect this. Partners are now being empowered to create a thriving collaborative ecosystem where customers, partners and SAP themselves work together for mutual benefit.

This week IgniteSAP is looking at a selection of SAP partner initiatives and discussing how multi-partner collaboration is a keystone in SAP’s future.

SAP and Accenture

Over the course of its history SAP has always fostered prosperous relationships with technology, industry, and commercial partners to create added value for customers. For example, SAP’s working relationship with Accenture is now more than forty years old.

Co-innovation projects targeting particular industries and business contexts have been developed to help clients transform their IT landscapes, and this continues today as both corporations are addressing the new paradigm of cloud infrastructure and services.

The most recent chapter in SAP’s evolving relationship with Accenture is a joint offering that was announced last year at the SAP Sapphire event. SOAR with Accenture has been created to compliment Rise with SAP. It comprises of a comprehensive collection of transformation services, which, like Rise with SAP make it easier for customers to take advantage of cloud technology and AI functionality.

Accenture’s CEO Julie Sweet said: “The most successful companies will undergo total enterprise reinvention over the next decade, transforming every part of their business through technology, data and AI, and new ways of working and engaging with customers as well as new business models. SAP and Accenture are now offering the ability for large enterprises to dramatically accelerate their transformations and new opportunities for growth.”

Drawing on its knowledge-base of more than 75,000 SAP practitioners, Accenture is now implementing instances of Rise with SAP in combination with Accenture cloud services.


The partnership between SAP and Amazon Web Services has existed since 2008 and today many of SAP’s most prominent offerings like Rise with SAP, the SAP Business Technology Platform and SAP HANA Cloud are run on AWS.

SAP announced last month that the next stage of this relationship is a joint investment in a technology-driven project to accelerate digital transformation in a variety of ways.

They are cooperating on a joint reference architecture to minimise compatibility issues between SAP and AWS components so that complex customer requirements can always be accommodated. In addition, their marketing departments are harmonising their campaigns, and sales teams are collaborating to work jointly with system integrator partners.

Both companies have also adopted a joint reference architecture for the SAP Business Technology Platform which provides guidance to customers running SAP BTP on AWS.

SAP’s senior vice president and strategic partner officer Elena Ordóñez del Campo commented:

“AWS and other infrastructure providers are becoming increasingly important to SAP’s business as we help our customers benefit from digital transformation in the cloud with RISE with SAP… We move into the new year with aligned go-to-market teams in every region, an industry-leading portfolio of solutions enabled by our joint reference architecture, and a growing selection of co-innovations.”

SAP and EY

Other recent developments in SAP’s partnership ecosystem are targeting solutions for specific industries.

In recent weeks SAP and EY have announced a transformation services product aimed at supporting chemicals companies called Intelligent Chemicals Solution (ICS).

This package uses SAP S/4HANA Cloud to facilitate business processes common among chemicals companies: production planning and detailed scheduling, sales and service, finance, procurement, enterprise asset management, multi-resource scheduling, and environment, health and safety management.

EY ICS uses SAP Best Practices for Chemicals combined with industry reference models and KPIs to accelerate chemical industry businesses in their aim to digitally transform and improve business processes.

Jade Rodysill of EY described the advantages of this unique product:

“Customers who want to redesign key functions and processes can now configure a model in a matter of days. Using a decoupled, two-stage approach, ICS allows EY and SAP to work on a company’s methods, data, and operating model. The solution’s unique value proposition offers the ability to map a company’s business and operating models to a technical one, built in EY’s environment, test it, and port it to a customer’s environment.”

This demonstrates how both companies are using collaborative projects to address their customers’ needs for improved processes and digital advancement with a minimum of disruption.

SAP and PwC

PwC’s long-standing partnership with SAP is based on bringing a blend of industry, process and technology expertise to the implementation of SAP systems. Working with multiple SAP applications PwC focusses on addressing their client’s business goals with SAP technology.

This approach has seen PwC achieve SAP Pinnacle Awards in several categories in 2022 including the Partner Application – SAP Business Technology Award, the Business process Award, and the SuccessFactors Partner of the Year Award.

PwC was also named a Leader in last year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for SAP S/4HANA Services. Their Global SAP Practice Leader Michael Rasch said:

“As one of SAP’s premier partners, we’ve introduced a new formula that gets transformation done right. A unique equation that combines our deep sector experience and business-led perspective with SAP’s innovation-powering software.”

Other SAP Partners

SAP partners include collaborators across all sectors of business, technology and industry. Some names are particularly well known in the tech sector like Hewlett Packard, IBM, Google and Microsoft. Others are known for ground-breaking system integrations innovations and services like Deloitte and Capgemini. SAP’s over 22,000 accredited partners help SAP to be involved in 87% of transactions worldwide.

A Changing Partner Ecosystem

With the global transition to cloud-based business software services, SAP and its partners are facing the challenge of encouraging new and existing SAP customers to adopt a new cloud landscape. Whether it is due primarily to caution or inertia, roughly two-thirds of these customers are still considering but not actually implementing business critical systems like S/4HANA and S/4HANA Cloud despite an approaching legacy software support deadline.

Product packages like Rise with SAP and their equivalent partner products seek to make this transition easier for their customers. SAP is working on co-innovations, cross-selling initiatives and change management services to help this group of customers to make the change sooner rather than later.

Many of SAP’s partners have been preparing for this scenario for years by acquiring smaller consultancies and their IP for cloud-based software and intelligent technologies so that the business case for making the switch is clear, but a lot of work needs to be done in educating the SAP customer base and ensuring there are enough skilled SAP consultants to carry out the business transformations.

The Cloud Shift

The cloud shift presents a unique technological opportunity for businesses for the real time aggregation and analysis of business data, and SAP is leveraging this with R&D budgets now exceeding €4bn per year. The burden of preparing for this global change is being shared by partners, and the close relationships between SAP and its partners is helping for cross-fertilisation in the IT services industry.

In a similar way to the SAP Business Network: a “network of networks” which helps businesses and suppliers share data for mutual benefit across the traditional boundaries of enterprise, the SAP partner ecosystem is evolving through the combined efforts of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders. This cooperation between partners is leading to a bloom of innovative and complimentary services for joint customers of SAP and its partners. Caspar Borggreve, senior managing director for Accenture said:

“Working alongside SAP, we are preparing our clients for total enterprise reinvention over the next decade, transforming every part of their business through technology, data and AI, and new ways of working and engaging with customers.”

Of particular interest to joint customers are the far quicker implementation periods resulting from cloud integrations and a far less disruptive culture of continuous innovation.

SAP partners are essential for SAP to deliver its services and a new IDC report has shown that investment in innovation pays off. According to the report entitled “Winning Growth Opportunities for SAP Partners” for every $1 that SAP makes, partners selling their own IP make $10, and those investing more than 20% of revenue in IP are seeing 60% returns. This represents a valuable growth area of employment for SAP consultants as a higher rate of development leads to a bigger market for their services.

Accelerated Pace of Change

IT consultants should be aware of the accelerated pace of technological change resulting from these partnerships. With a background of large-scale changes like the cloud shift, and with an almost constant pattern of mergers and acquisitions in the IT services industry, consultants are forced to re-train and augment their existing skills to remain a useful contributor to the new landscape of IT services for business. One effect of these changes is a greater degree of standardisation of implementations but these standards are changing.

As well as periodical reviews of their skill set to see if they are still appropriate for the roles they want to fill, SAP consultants should check in on the SAP Best Practices, Guided Configurations and the SAP Activate methodology for integrations and extensions. These will be changing on a monthly basis as new products and services and updates to existing SAP technology roll out far more quickly.

By maintaining knowledge of the latest developments in the relationship between SAP and its network of partners, SAP consultants will ensure they are at the forefront of this new wave of cloud implementation.

Are you an SAP consultant looking for a new role in the SAP ecosystem? Our team can help you find the role and the salary you deserve for your highly desirable skills so join us at IgniteSAP.