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SAP TechEd 2019 in Barcelona featured an array of new ideas, new tech and new opportunities. Juergen Mueller’s keynote ticked all the boxes for their current X-O theme, even if the tech on display was more of a light touch. However, this was never going to be the case with the latest S/4 HANA developments.

One of the new introductions was the technology analyst summit, featuring an eclectic mix of tech leaders and sales and marketing professionals. This team-up echoed Mueller’s claim that sales and marketing are now being integrated with research and development.

But the real activity seemed to be in the show floor Developer Garage and Community Lounge, where people could get up close and personal and even interact with some of the latest tech. Buzzing with some of the top minds and creative spirits in the SAP world, the show floor was alive with invention and innovation.

But as anyone could have predicted, the learning sessions around the ECC to S/4 HANA transition drew some of the biggest and most attentive crowds. Good news for SAP, and good news for the SAP software sector. Because while there’s no shortage of people with SAP HANA certification, many industry professionals are concerned about how many developers and consultants can actually deliver S/4 HANA projects. A lot of crucial decisions need to be made about which processes to retain from ECC.

Will S/4 HANA change how SAP solutions are implemented?

Introducing a new SAP solution to a business can be a messy process. And anyone who’s been involved in such a project may well feel the real problems happen early on, because there often isn’t the right kind of communication between the business and the developers. That is, when an account executive sells the tech to a business leader, who then hands it over to their IT department to integrate it with their existing system. Or “Make it work for us”.

The IT bods then adapt the tech through various processes in order to roll it out on time and on-brief. So what goes live tends to be what was required, within reason, with a different look and feel to the original solution. This then begins the lengthy upgrade and development stage, where all the leftover, seemingly low-priority tasks are completed, bugs are fixed and the tech edges closer to doing what it’s meant to.

But Sven Denecken, SVP S/4HANA, Head of Product Success and Co-Innovation, suggests this could be about to change. He seems to be taking a fresh approach to thinking about who the customer actually is, claiming this is critical to decisions regarding the cloud, net new and how you undertake deployments.

The Colgate solution

According to Denecken, Colgate are consolidating 12 ECC instances to just two S/4 HANA instances. He said because the ECC wasn’t very customised as a way of proving the value of S/4 HANA, they have both instances.

The company put two recently acquired subsidiaries on a public cloud, rather than on their big template, which showed them the advantages of the cloud.

Denecken doesn’t think we need to be at code parity, as such, but instead we need to simplify and innovate together on the cloud platform.


Denecken knows there’s an inherent challenge presented by the products. However, as an example, teams from core development units and SuccessFactors have been brought together to better understand the problems faced by business customers – as opposed to just discussing application enhancements. Endeavours Denecken is confident will pay off soon.

So when it comes to the development talent and skills needed, it seems the SAP industry will need both generalists across ECC and S/4 HANA, as well as a way to put together multi-disciplinary teams who can establish the right landscape. Denecken suggests one approach could be to compensate people based on the usage of the service they build. He thinks teams should also be compensated equally when they’re below the board level and working together effectively. Which could well be a very sensible idea.

What next?

It seems SAP is becoming more aware of the wider business influences and implications surrounding its products. And when it comes to SAP industry talent, it looks like a key skill for the future could be the ability to work, and thrive, in multi-disciplinary teams.

Candidates would do well to capitalise on their generalist experience across different solutions, while thinking about how their specialist knowledge could contribute to a wider effort.

Employers will need to think about how to put together teams of specialists with the drive and motivation to make the most of everyone’s areas of expertise.

At IgniteSAP we specialise finding the right skills in the right people for the right SAP job, and establishing teams for one-off and ongoing SAP projects. If you have any questions about hiring talent or finding your next opportunity, just get in touch.

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