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Customer Success

The second day of the SAP Sapphire 2024 event opened with a keynote presentation that underscored the evolving landscape of SAP implementation and the continuous innovation by countless companies in the SAP services ecosystem. In this article IgniteSAP summarizes the presentation and some of the valuable lessons learned from these remarkable customer stories.

The keynote was focused on customer success stories, illustrating how SAP’s technology has been fundamental in transforming various types of businesses.

Scott Russell, who is Chief Revenue Officer & Executive Board Member at SAP for Customer Success, highlighted the announcement that day of SAP’s intention to acquire WalkMe, a leading digital adoption platform. This acquisition is expected to complement SAP’s existing tools like Business Technology Platform (BTP), LeanIX, and Signavio, creating a comprehensive suite that addresses data management, enterprise systems landscape, process insights, and user adoption.

The keynote also shed light on the AI capabilities integrated into SAP’s solutions, with Scott noting that over 27,000 customers are already using SAP’s AI solutions.

Brian Hardee, CIO of PureTech

The presentation transitioned to detailed case studies, beginning with PureTech Scientific. Brian Hardee, CIO of PureTech, described migrating to SAP S/4HANA public cloud using Grow with SAP.

Brian elaborated on the challenges they faced, particularly the tight timeline imposed by their transition service agreement (TSA) following a carve-out from a larger chemical manufacturing entity. With no internal IT team and limited training resources, PureTech was in a critical situation that required an agile and efficient solution.

The reliable infrastructure and integration capabilities of SAP S/4HANA provided PureTech with the confidence needed to proceed. He detailed how the selection of Grow with SAP was particularly beneficial due to its alignment with their private equity firm’s insistence on growth and scalability. This model facilitated not only the immediate operational needs but also supported future expansions and acquisitions.

The implementation took only 15 weeks.

Brian spoke of the importance of involving the business units early and frequently, and the use of SAP’s Activate methodology, which provided a structured and phased approach to the implementation. He also pointed out the role of SAP Signavio in process management, enabling them to map, analyze, and optimize their business processes effectively.

He also discussed how leveraging the Preferred Success program provided them with direct access to SAP experts, ensuring that any challenges encountered were promptly addressed.

This CIO also touched on their investment in additional SAP tools, such as SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud and SAP Sales Cloud, which were scheduled to be implemented shortly after the keynote. These tools were expected to enhance their operational visibility and efficiency further. The integration of AI through SAP Joule was another exciting prospect for PureTech, as it aimed to drive sales and business development initiatives and improve supply chain management.

Jeff Lischett, CIO of Tropicana Brands Group

Next, Jeff Lischett from Tropicana Brands Group provided an in-depth look at their ambitious IT separation project, aptly named “Project Harvest”.

Despite Tropicana’s relatively recent formation as a standalone entity, the company faced the task of establishing its own IT infrastructure. Jeff shared the strategic and operational challenges that necessitated the selection of Rise with SAP, including the need for speed and agility.

Jeff elaborated on the strategic imperative behind choosing Rise with SAP, explaining that Tropicana required a reliable, scalable ERP solution capable of handling the complexities of their diverse and expanding product portfolio. Rise with SAP was selected for its technological fit but also for its ability to support a leaner, more streamlined business model.

He further explained the project’s execution, starting from the initial design work, through development, testing, and final cutover. Tropicana managed to go live with their European business operations in just 11 months, rolling out to their North American operations 3 months later, demonstrating the scalability and efficiency of SAP’s cloud-based solutions.

Tropicana used the comprehensive capabilities of Rise with SAP, including the S/4HANA core, but also a full suite of cloud-based business applications.

Jeff also shared advice on managing such large-scale transformations. He emphasized the need for a clear purpose and identity for the project, aligning it with broader strategic goals. This alignment helped to motivate the executive team and the entire organization, ensuring that everyone was committed to the success of the project. He stressed the importance of ruthless prioritization and effective governance to keep the project on track.

Change management was another critical component. Jeff pointed out that effective change management required sustained effort even after the go-live stage, so that the organization could fully capitalize on the new system’s capabilities.

In discussing the tangible benefits of their new ERP system, Jeff noted that the transition to Rise with SAP had already yielded significant improvements in operational efficiency and agility. The clean core architecture enabled faster upgrades and easier scalability, allowing Tropicana to adapt quickly to changing business conditions.

Thomas Saueressig Leads The Conversation

Thomas Saueressig, Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE for Customer Services & Delivery, joined Scott on stage, reinforced the commitment to continuous innovation and customer-centric transformation. He spoke about the importance of fast adoption of innovations, particularly in the context of AI and macroeconomic challenges.

Ingo Elfering, Award-Winning CIO of Fresenius

The session also featured Ingo Elfering from Fresenius, who shared their extraordinary transformation journey involving the migration of 134 systems within an astonishing 15 months.

Fresenius embarked on this ambitious journey to overhaul their IT infrastructure as part of a larger strategy to reinvent their business and drive future growth.

Fresenius’ transformation, which was extremely complex, required four simultaneous initiatives: a complete cloud migration, a comprehensive change in their global network, a reshaping of their workforce for a more globally integrated team, and the implementation of SAP Rise. These efforts were aimed at fundamentally changing the company’s operational backbone to improve efficiency and support future innovations.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Fresenius’ transformation was the meticulous planning that went into executing such a large-scale project. This involved coordinating with manufacturing partners well in advance to schedule downtimes and ensure minimal disruption to their operations. Given that Fresenius operates large-scale manufacturing sites with stringent regulatory requirements, the planning phase had to account for the intricacies of compliance and operational continuity.

Ingo also highlighted the importance of strong leadership in driving the transformation. He stressed that this approach required a willingness to take risks, supported by risk management strategies and contingency plans.

The CIO described how the leadership team put their skin in the game, encouraging a culture of accountability and commitment across the entire organization. By setting a clear vision and rallying the team around common goals, the leadership ensured that everyone was aligned and motivated to contribute to the project’s success.

The execution phase saw teams working around the clock during the critical migration events. Ingo recounted how Fresenius’ mega migration event involved 250 people working globally in a coordinated effort to move their logistics, finance systems, and process infrastructure to SAP Rise.

The move to SAP Rise and the associated cloud migration resulted in increased operational efficiency, enabling the company to run their systems more smoothly and with greater speed. The new infrastructure stack has also provided a more reliable and scalable platform.

Also, the transformation has given Fresenius greater flexibility: a crucial advantage as they continue to execute their broader strategic initiatives under the banner of “Future Fresenius”. This initiative aims to drive further changes in the company’s operations, both organically and through acquisitions, leveraging the newly established IT capabilities to support these efforts.

The transformation has also set a strong foundation for the company to integrate AI and other advanced technologies, particularly in the data-rich but insight-poor healthcare sector, where AI can significantly enhance decision-making and efficiency.

Takuya Sakai from Hitachi High-Tech

Takuya Sakai from Hitachi High-Tech provided an overview of their clean core journey: a transformative process that involved reducing a staggering 9,000 add-ons to just 750.

Sakai detailed how this ambitious project was essential for Hitachi High-Tech to streamline its business processes and maintain agility. He explained that the initial challenge was the sheer volume of custom add-ons that had accumulated over the years. These add-ons, while useful at the time of implementation, had become a burden, creating complexity and slowing down system upgrades.

Hitachi High-Tech embarked on a strategic initiative to clean up their ERP core by significantly reducing the number of add-ons. Sakai emphasized that this process was not just about eliminating unnecessary components but also about ensuring that the remaining add-ons were truly essential and optimized.

A key part of the strategy was the separation of the ERP core from the customizations and add-ons, utilizing SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) for these enhancements. Sakai detailed how this separation allowed them to maintain a lean and stable ERP core, while still providing the flexibility to add custom functionalities as needed through SAP BTP. This approach ensured that the core system remained uncluttered and could be easily updated, significantly reducing the time and cost associated with system upgrades, which can now be completed in approximately 40 days.

Another significant benefit has been the reduction in operational workload. This shift has enabled Hitachi High-Tech to allocate resources more effectively and drive greater value from their IT investments.

The streamlined system has provided a solid foundation for future growth, allowing the company to scale operations and adapt quickly to new market opportunities.

Sakai also highlighted the need for patience and perseverance, as achieving a clean core requires a sustained effort and a willingness to tackle complex challenges. He pointed out that maintaining a clean core requires regular reviews and updates to ensure that the system remains efficient and agile.

Saueressig Wraps Up

Thomas discussed how these conversations demonstrated the combined benefits of the holistic toolchain approach, integrating LeanIX, Signavio, Cloud ALM, BTP, and soon also WalkMe to support end-to-end business transformation. This integrated approach is designed to provide insights, streamline processes, and enable rapid adoption of new technologies, ensuring that SAP customers remain at the forefront of innovation.

The keynote concluded with a reiteration of SAP’s dedication to helping customers achieve agility, efficiency, and sustainability through its suite of solutions and strong partner ecosystem. 

The valuable discussions in this session clearly showed the transformative power of SAP’s technology through real-world examples of customer success and innovation.

Their are many on-demand sessions still available to watch, including countless other customer transformation stories, if you register with SAP for access to further Sapphire 2024 content, including the keynotes if you missed the live streams.  

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