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The Role of SAP Partners

Businesses across all sectors are undergoing transformations, driven by the need to stay competitive and agile. According to IDC, worldwide spending on digital transformation is expected to reach $2.3 trillion by 2023.

SAP Partners are central in facilitating digital transformation. As trusted advisors and experts, they help businesses navigate the complex journey to the cloud, using SAP’s solutions to optimize innovation and efficiency. Their contributions include strategic collaboration, co-innovation, and specialized services tailored to each business’s needs.

SAP Partners work closely with SAP to build compelling business cases for cloud adoption. They engage in co-innovation on cloud platforms, exploring new technologies and developing bespoke solutions.

In addition to their strategic roles, SAP Partners offer a wide range of services, from solution sales and building, to consulting and solution management.

These partners ensure businesses transition smoothly to the cloud but also continually innovate and improve their operations. With upcoming support deadlines for SAP products like SAP ECC in 2027 (2030 with Extended Support), the role of SAP Partners becomes even more critical as businesses future-proof their IT landscapes.

This article from IgniteSAP will explore the changing role of SAP Partners: the different types of partners and their services, recent developments in the SAP ecosystem, and how these partners are shaping the future.

Resources and Tools Provided by SAP

SAP provides partners with a comprehensive suite of tools and resources to accelerate cloud adoption. These include the SAP Transformation Navigator, which assists in mapping a company’s current landscape and planning their cloud journey. SAP also offers best practice methodologies, technical support, and training programs so partners can deliver high-quality services.

The PartnerEdge program is another crucial resource, offering marketing, sales, and technical support to enhance customer support capabilities. This program ensures partners are well-prepared to amplify customer success and innovation.

Innovations Driven by SAP Partners

SAP Partners lead in creating and implementing new cloud-based technologies. Through co-innovation initiatives, they collaborate with SAP to develop solutions for emerging business challenges.

For example, SAP Partner Deloitte has co-developed solutions with SAP that use AI and machine learning to optimize supply chain operations, and SAP and Accenture co-developed industry-specific cloud solutions that address unique business needs.

These innovations maximize operational efficiency and help businesses stay competitive.

RISE with SAP for Cloud Adoption

SAP Partners also help businesses select solution packages like RISE with SAP to guide companies through the complexities of transitioning to the cloud. RISE with SAP includes business process intelligence, cloud infrastructure, and SAP S/4HANA, enabling partners to present a comprehensive, value-driven case for cloud migration.

Partners to assess a business’s specific needs, identify the benefits of cloud adoption, and create a roadmap aligned with strategic goals. This collaboration helps businesses understand the benefits of cloud solutions, such as reduced TCO, enhanced agility, and improved scalability.

The RISE with SAP Validated Partner Recognition program acknowledges partners with deep expertise and proven success in implementing RISE with SAP. Recognition assures customers of the partner’s capability to deliver high-quality cloud migration services. To earn this recognition, partners must meet stringent criteria, including demonstrating successful project implementations, maintaining high customer satisfaction, and using advanced technical capabilities.

Adhering to the RISE with SAP Methodology is crucial for these migrations. This includes best practices, tools, and guidance for each migration phase. SAP Partners follow this methodology to ensure compliance, innovation readiness, and accelerated time to value.

Types of SAP Partners and Their Contributions

Solution Sales

Solution Sales partners work closely with clients to understand their business processes, pain points, and objectives. Using their deep knowledge of SAP’s portfolio, they recommend solutions that align with the client’s needs and drive value.

Companies like NTT Data and Capgemini excel in assessing client environments and suggesting the best solutions for optimizing operations, enhancing customer experiences, and driving growth.

Solution Building: Customization and Innovation

Solution Building partners specialize in customizing and extending SAP software to create tailored, innovative solutions for businesses. Using SAP’s development platforms and tools, these partners build bespoke applications and integrations that enhance SAP’s core capabilities.

Companies like Deloitte and Infosys excel in developing industry-specific solutions for sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and healthcare. Their custom solutions often integrate emerging technologies.

Business Process Transformation and Digital Innovation

Consulting Services partners offer strategic advice to businesses aiming to transform processes. With expertise in business process reengineering, change management, and technology implementation, they help clients navigate digital transformation complexities.

Accenture and PwC are notable Consulting Services partners known for their comprehensive business transformations. Their services often include detailed assessments, transformation roadmaps, and support in executing complex change initiatives.

Managing and Supporting SAP Solutions

Outsourced Solution Management partners provide ongoing maintenance and support for SAP solutions, ensuring systems remain operational, secure, and up-to-date. This allows businesses to focus on core activities without managing technical aspects of their SAP environments.

Companies like IBM and TCS lead in this area, with managed services, including system monitoring, performance tuning, security management, and compliance.

Extending SAP Software Capabilities

Many SAP partners offer additional services to enhance and extend SAP software functionalities. These services often include training, data migration, and analytics.

For example, Atos and HCL Technologies provide training to ensure client teams use SAP solutions effectively. They also offer advanced analytics services to help businesses derive meaningful insights from their data.

Transitioning SAP ECC and S/4HANA to the Cloud

The transition from traditional on-premise SAP ECC systems to cloud-based SAP S/4HANA requires careful planning and execution. SAP Partners assess the current system landscape, develop a migration strategy, and execute the migration with minimal disruption.

Partners like Deloitte and Capgemini have extensive experience in migrating complex SAP environments to the cloud. They use proven methodologies and best practices to handle data migration, system integration, and process optimization.

SAP Business Technology Platform

The SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is an innovation platform for businesses migrating to the cloud. It provides a unified environment for data management, analytics, application development, and integration, enabling businesses to innovate and adapt quickly. SAP Partners facilitate the adoption and integration of SAP BTP.

Atos and Infosys assist clients in adopting SAP BTP to build and extend applications, integrate third-party solutions, and harness advanced analytics. Through SAP BTP, businesses can enhance their agility, improve decision-making, and drive further innovation.

Integrating Third-Party Applications with SAP

SAP Partners like TCS and Wipro integrate third-party solutions to create a comprehensive and flexible IT environment to meet diverse and evolving needs. Whether incorporating advanced analytics tools, IoT devices, or industry-specific applications, these SAP Partners ensure easier integration with SAP systems.

Building and Implementing Cloud-First Strategies

A cloud-first strategy prioritizes cloud solutions over on-premise, for the scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of the cloud. SAP Partners assist businesses in developing and implementing cloud-first strategies that align with their digital transformation goals.

This involves assessing the current landscape, defining cloud adoption goals, and creating an implementation roadmap. Partners like PwC and EY provide strategic consulting services to help businesses in the process, ensuring their cloud-first strategy supports long-term growth.

Managing Scope, Cost, and Business Model Transitions

Transitioning to a cloud-first strategy presents challenges, including managing scope, controlling costs, and adapting business models. SAP Partners provide expertise and support to address these issues throughout the transition.

Partners like HCL Technologies and Cognizant offer project and change management services to keep projects on track and within budget.

Controlling costs is critical, as cloud migration can entail significant expenses. SAP Partners help businesses optimize their cloud investments by identifying cost-saving opportunities and ensuring efficient resource use.

Transitioning business models requires rethinking service delivery and value generation. SAP Partners provide insights and solutions to help businesses adapt their models to the cloud environment.

Emerging Trends in Partner Collaboration

The SAP partner ecosystem is evolving, with changes in collaboration models that emphasize deeper integration and co-innovation.

Partners are working together to develop joint solutions that leverage their combined expertise. This encourages innovation and accelerates time-to-market for new solutions.

Emphasizing shared success metrics, partners and SAP align their goals and performance indicators to drive mutual growth.

New Programs and Incentives

SAP has introduced several new partner programs and incentives designed to promote further collaboration and drive innovation in the ecosystem. These include:

PartnerEdge Next: A program offering enhanced benefits and support for partners focused on delivering next-generation SAP solutions.

Co-Innovation Labs: Facilities where partners can collaborate with SAP and other partners to develop and test new solutions.

Incentive Programs: Financial incentives and rewards for partners who achieve specific performance milestones or contribute to strategic initiatives.

Predictions for the SAP Partner Ecosystem and Cloud Services Market

The SAP Partner ecosystem and the broader cloud services market are expected to experience several key trends in the coming years.

The adoption of cloud-based SAP solutions will rise, driving demand for SAP Partners skilled in cloud migration, integration, and management.

Sustainability will become a major focus. Solutions that help companies reduce their environmental impact and achieve sustainability goals will be in high demand.

There will be growing demand for industry-specific SAP solutions. SAP Partners will need to develop solutions specifically for various industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Enhancing the customer experience will be a top priority. SAP Partners will need to deliver personalized and engaging experiences through advanced analytics, AI, and integrated platforms.

The ecosystem will continue to expand, with new partners entering the market and existing partners diversifying their offerings. This growth will create yet more opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

Recommendations for Consultants and Providers

To stay ahead in the evolving SAP ecosystem, consultants and service providers should consider the following:

Stay updated with the latest SAP technologies, trends, and best practices through continuous education and training. This includes obtaining relevant certifications and participating in industry conferences and workshops.

Explore and adopt new technologies such as AI, and advanced automation. Invest in tools and platforms that improve your ability to analyze and interpret data. Develop innovative solutions that address emerging business needs.

Align your services and solutions with sustainability goals, to help clients achieve their environmental objectives.

Build strong, long-term relationships with customers by providing exceptional service and support. Understand their evolving needs and tailor your solutions to deliver maximum value.

Encourage collaboration with other SAP Partners, industry experts, and stakeholders to drive co-innovation and deliver comprehensive solutions.

Adopt Agile methodologies to respond quickly to changing requirements and deliver solutions faster. This iterative approach emphasizes flexibility and improves customer satisfaction.

Strengthen your cybersecurity capabilities to protect client data and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Encourage a culture of innovation within your organization. Promote creativity, experimentation, and continuous improvement to stay ahead of industry trends and deliver cutting-edge solutions.

Learning from, and Working With SAP Partners

SAP partners have refined the delivery of SAP services through years of collaboration, innovation, and commitment to excellence.

SAP consultants can obtain valuable insights from observing these partners’ methodologies, from their meticulous project management to their proactive client engagement strategies. By emulating these best practices, consultants can enhance their own service delivery, ensuring high-quality outcomes and client satisfaction.

SAP partners are also known for being excellent employers, offering a dynamic and supportive work environment that encourages career growth and mobility. This makes them ideal workplaces for consultants seeking to advance their careers within the SAP ecosystem.

If you are an SAP professional looking for a new role in the SAP ecosystem our team of dedicated recruitment consultants can match you with your ideal employer and negotiate a competitive compensation package for your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive community at IgniteSAP.