fbpx Skip to main content

Sapphire 2024 and SAP’s Strategic Growth

The SAP Sapphire 2024 event reinforced SAP’s strategic growth areas, and also revealed innovative solutions, including AI integrations.

SAP Sapphire 2024 also emphasized acceleration of digital transformations, and the expansion of cloud platforms like RISE with SAP, aimed at facilitating their customers’ cloud migrations.

Aligning professional development with these strategic growth areas is crucial for consultants to remain competitive in a rapidly changing industry. This shift necessitates a rethinking of skills and expertise, continuous learning, and adaptation.

With focus on how SAP is growing, SAP consultants can better assist their clients in navigating digital transformation complexities, and maximizing SAP’s advanced capabilities.

In this article, IgniteSAP summarizes progress in SAP’s growth strategy: as shown at SAP Sapphire 2024, and in the context of SAP’s cloud shift.

We also explore how SAP consultants can align their skills with SAP’s developments to maximize consulting service value for their clients.

Cloud and AI

SAP’s transition to cloud services is driven by the growing demand for cloud-based applications, which allow businesses to develop more adaptable and agile IT infrastructures, to quickly respond to changing market conditions and business needs. Cloud migration also provides access to the benefits of AI in SAP systems, which can be too data-intensive to run on-premise.

SAP’s cloud offerings, such as S/4HANA Cloud and RISE with SAP, are central to this strategy. RISE with SAP includes business process intelligence, technology and infrastructure, and technical migration services, to help businesses achieve a smooth and efficient transition.

AI Capabilities Across SAP Solutions

SAP is integrating AI across its entire suite of solutions, with many details discussed in depth at Sapphire 2024.

SAP’s AI assistant, Joule, will become the new front end and user experience across all SAP solutions. Joule is expected to manage 80% of the most-used tasks by year-end, promising a 20% productivity increase for SAP’s 300 million end-users.

Specifically for consultants and developers, SAP introduced versions of Joule designed to accelerate projects by 30% and speed up custom business logic development using AI-generated ABAP code.

This is an important development, demonstrating how AI also can bring further value and efficiency for customers of SAP consultancies, as part of the practice and method of implementing SAP systems, not just in the benefits to be found in AI features of SAP solutions.

At Sapphire, SAP announced the expansion of the Gen AI Hub, allowing customers and partners to develop AI use cases using models like GPT-4 and Google Gemini, integrated into SAP’s data and identity layers via SAP BTP. This will allow customers to combine the best aspects of many forms of generative AI in their SAP systems.

Also, SAP Business AI aims to upgrade enterprise operations further with AI-driven analytics and automation.

SAP made it clear at Sapphire that AI is now a core component that enhances the functionality and value of SAP solutions.

RISE with SAP

RISE with SAP is a central aspect of SAP’s growth strategy that aims to deliver a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective pathway to digital transformation in the cloud. According to Christian Klein in the Sapphire opening keynote, over 6,000 customers have already adopted the platform.

Recent developments include dedicated Enterprise Architects for each customer to guide them towards standardized systems (and extensions) and implementation consistent with a clean core. Customers also gain access to LeanIX, Signavio, Cloud Application Lifecycle Management, and soon, the newly acquired WalkMe platform.

RISE with SAP comprises several key components:

Technical Migration Services: Simplifies migrating to the cloud, including system conversion, data migration, and infrastructure setup, ensuring minimal disruption and maximum efficiency.

Business Process Intelligence: Analyzes and optimizes processes, providing deep insights into operational workflows to identify areas for improvement, drive efficiency, and support data-driven decision-making.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Offers flexible infrastructure options tailored to different business needs through partnerships with major cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud.

Clean Core Compatible Extensions: Available through the SAP Business Technology Platform, including many AI-powered services.

GROW with SAP

SAP is also providing a cloud transformation platform similar to the Rise offering but for smaller to medium-size enterprises with GROW with SAP. Increasing the reach of their transformation as a service offering to more customers is part of SAP’s own growth strategy in the cloud market. 

Grow with SAP’s pre-configured solutions reduce the complexity and time required to deploy SAP systems, making them accessible to smaller enterprises with limited resources.

As companies expand, they can easily add new capabilities and users, so that the system continues to meet their evolving needs. Flexible pricing models and reduced upfront costs make it feasible for smaller businesses to access advanced ERP capabilities without significant financial strain.

Also at Sapphire, Julia White announced Grow with SAP Premium, which includes SAP Sales Cloud and SAP Concur expense management.

Key Industries Targeted for Growth

SAP’s strategic focus on industry-specific solutions is another vital aspect of its growth. SAP is specifically targeting industries such as manufacturing and healthcare for accelerated growth and innovation.

Strategic partnerships with industry leaders and technology innovators are expanding SAP’s reach and improving its solutions. These collaborations bring together specialized expertise and cutting-edge technology, driving co-innovation and delivering better value to customers.

Partner Developments and Ecosystem Growth

SAP’s commitment to its ecosystem of service partners was another theme at Sapphire 2024. 

Strategic partnerships amplify SAP’s service offerings and create new opportunities for growth and innovation. Recent developments by SAP partners show collaboration that uses each partner’s strengths to drive co-innovation and deliver comprehensive solutions.

SAP’s partnership with Microsoft focuses on integrating SAP’s cloud solutions with Microsoft Azure. This eases cloud migration and strengthens data security and compliance, providing a reliable infrastructure for enterprises. Similarly, the partnership with Google Cloud emphasizes is using Google’s AI capabilities to enrich SAP’s analytics and machine learning offerings.

Co-innovations and joint ventures are a significant part of SAP’s strategy to drive growth. Understanding the implications of these partnerships allows consultants to provide informed guidance to clients on use of these integrated solutions to drive business growth and operational excellence.

Preparing for the Cloud Era

The shift towards cloud services means SAP consultants must acquire new skills to remain relevant and effective. As businesses increasingly adopt cloud-based solutions, consultants must adapt to these advancements to provide high-value services.

Key areas of focus include:

Understanding the fundamentals of cloud architecture, including knowledge of cloud infrastructure, deployment models (public, private, hybrid), and cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).

Proficiency in data migration, which is essential for guaranteeing a smooth transition from on-premise systems to cloud environments. Consultants need to be adept at planning, executing, and validating data migrations to minimize disruptions.

Consultants must be more knowledgeable about cloud security best practices, including identity and access management, data encryption, and compliance with regulations.

To build expertise in these areas, SAP offers a range of certification programs and training resources. The SAP Certified Application Associate – SAP S/4HANA Cloud certification is particularly valuable as it equips consultants with the necessary skills to implement and manage SAP’s core cloud solutions effectively.

Mastering AI and Emerging Technologies

The integration of AI and emerging tech into SAP solutions is reshaping the practice of SAP consulting. Mastery of AI involves a deep understanding of machine learning algorithms, data science principles, how these technologies are embedded within SAP’s framework, and how to use them to accelerate implementations.

Key areas of focus include:

Knowledge of various machine learning models and their applications. This includes supervised and unsupervised learning, neural networks, and natural language processing.

Proficiency in data science, involving understanding of data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization. Consultants should be able to derive actionable insights from data to support business decision-making.

Understanding how AI integrates with SAP’s existing solutions, such as SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors, allows consultants to leverage AI for predictive analytics, process automation, and a more responsive UX.

SAP’s AI and Machine Learning certification programs provide a solid foundation for developing these skills. For example, the SAP Certified Application Associate – SAP Analytics Cloud certification equips consultants with the ability to use advanced analytics tools to support data-driven decision-making.

Integrating analytics and automation tools, such as SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Intelligent RPA, into consulting practices can significantly elevate service offerings. These enable consultants to automate repetitive tasks, provide predictive insights, and optimize business processes.

Further developments in SAP’s cloud and AI capabilities necessitate alignment of consultants’ training and career development with SAP’s strategic growth areas. Using SAP training resources, consultants can sharpen their professional skills and provide more value to their clients.

Addressing Customer Concerns

Customers are naturally concerned about migrating their SAP systems to the cloud because of perceived risks, and a belief they are giving up a degree of control over their IT systems. SAP needs to persuade these customers as part of their growth strategy, and consultants also need to be aware of common reservations among their clients.

The end of support for SAP ECC in 2027 (2030 for customers with Extended Support) means a transition to SAP S/4HANA. This deadline requires SAP consultants to guide their clients through the migration process with minimal disruption.

SAP is facilitating easier migrations to S/4HANA and cloud deployments with RISE with SAP, enhancing cloud adoption with added AI features to make these transitions more attractive and efficient. 

Concerns about cloud deployments typically revolve around data security, cost, and integration challenges. Providing clear, factual responses and demonstrating successful case studies can help reassure clients, but effective and continuous communication and collaboration with clients is useful in addressing their apprehensions.

User Groups and Customer Perspectives

While SAP is doubling down on cloud, the debate over cloud migration is ongoing, and is complex, with diverse perspectives from various user groups. Understanding these viewpoints helps consultants provide balanced and informed advice to clients.

User groups generally point out the need for strong data security, customization capabilities, and control over IT landscapes. At the same time, there is a favorable attitude towards cloud migration, driven by the potential for innovation, cost savings, and operational efficiency.

Concerns about integration complexities, total cost of ownership (TCO), and change management are also widely held. User groups frequently highlight the importance of comprehensive support and clear migration pathways from SAP to ensure successful transitions.

SAP users appreciate the agility and scalability offered by cloud solutions but often stress the need for clear value propositions and reliable migration strategies. Concerns about vendor lock-in and the long-term costs associated with cloud services are also prominent among user groups.

AI-Driven Efficiencies in Operations

AI is a focal point now among SAP consultants as it has the potential to drive significant efficiencies by automating routine tasks, providing predictive insights, and enhancing decision-making. The SAP Sapphire 2024 event presented numerous examples of how AI-driven transformations are already delivering substantial benefits across various industries.

Consultants should concentrate on identifying opportunities for AI implementation within their clients’ operations. This involves conducting assessments to determine where AI can deliver the most value, such as in automations, optimizing resource allocation, and decision-making.

Developing effective AI strategies requires understanding of both the technology and the specific business context. Consultants must work closely with clients to develop tailored AI strategies that align with their clients’ business goals and address their unique challenges. This includes selecting the right AI tools, affirming data readiness, and planning for ongoing AI governance and management.

Expertise in AI integration, identifying opportunities for AI benefits, and understanding AI’s strategic implications are all now essential for SAP consultants. By mastering these areas, consultants can help their clients achieve significant operational improvements.

Understanding SAP’s strategic cloud growth, along with the growing relevance of AI is extremely important for consultants looking to align their careers with the company’s progression.

The insights from SAP Sapphire 2024 provide substantial guidance on SAP’s future, so SAP consultants should access the on-demand content and review the keynotes to get the fullest picture of where SAP is going and how they need to prepare. 

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.