How to Make the Most of Your 2018 SAP SAPPHIRE Experience

SAPPHIRE, SAP’s annual 3-day event that attracted 30,000 in-person attendees last year, is less than one month away. Though SAP may be running the show, there are plenty of opportunities to make them work for you. With the right approach, SAPPHIRE can be a key part of establishing and maintaining a customer-centric relationship with SAP.

If you are among the thousands making their way to Orlando in June, take these three steps to ensure you get the most out of your SAPPHIRE experience.

1. Be fluent in SAP’s go to market strategy

SAP is focused on bringing the “Intelligent Enterprise” to its current and potential customers.  In its simplest form, this means delivering SAP core and line of business functionality at scale via the cloud.  SAP will provide its customers intelligent business capabilities through a new commercial model, (i.e. on-premise to cloud) which SAP will deliver on an outcome, consumption-based, business value model for its customers.  Fundamental to this objective is that this unified process landscape will sit on the HANA Cloud Platform.

To bring the Intelligent Enterprise to fruition, SAP is focused on six key areas to drive its strategy.

     1. Digital Core and S/4HANA: SAP has noted that only 20% of its current ERP customers have migrated to S/4 which they see as material upside opportunity. In addition, while SAP is still providing customers a choice on platform for ERP and database, their sales force is incented to drive the “cloud first” mentality.

     2. People: SAP sees opportunity driving SuccessFactors globally and is reaching out directly to CHRO’s to demonstrate SuccessFactors’ use of AI to create new ways to engage with employees beyond standard HCM functionality.

     3. Customer: With Hybris providing ecommerce functionality, the recent acquisitions of Callidus (configure/quote/price) and Gigya (customer profile/preference management) coupled with SAP’s organic SFM capability will be a major area of emphasis to take market share they believe is theirs.

     4. Platform: SAP has positioned the HANA Data Management Suite as a game-changing technology to bring in-memory, data processing capability to customer’s data where it resides, wherever that may be. The Suite is designed to provide centralized management of data but distribute execution across customer data sources.

     5. Leonardo and Analytics: SAP has represented that their solutions are structured to leverage AI natively. Demonstrating this capability and proving the value to customers is a driver for SAP’s creation of 4 Leonardo centers in 2017 and 8 new centers in 2018.  SAP believes this capability will further differentiate them from their competition.

    6. Network and Spend Management: SAP believes Ariba, Concur, and Fieldglass together represent an integrated solution set to manage customer spend and leverage the vendor network.  SAP’s strategy will be to drive horizontal adoption of adjacent solutions for existing customers who have one or two, or drive adoption of all three with new customers.

To be efficient in your interactions with SAP and drive the outcomes you’re looking for from SAP at SAPPHIRE, you must understand how your business priorities fit with SAP’s go to market approach.

2. Ask questions to gain deeper insight into SAP’s direction

Based on SAP’s go to market strategy, we compiled some questions regarding key areas that may be worth exploring while at SAPPHIRE.

  • How will SAP assure that the business requirements of existing clients will drive SAP’s conversion to S/4HANA and the Cloud and not be driven by SAP’s sales targets?
  • SAP “wants” CRM. As a legacy Hybris customer, will taking advantage of the Gigya and Callidus functionality require you to renegotiate your Hybris contract terms on SAP paper and reduce the favorability of your existing business or commercial terms?
  • Is the SAP HANA Data Management Suite truly going to simplify data management or will it come with unintended consequences such as increasing the announced S/4 consumption use model or create Indirect Access issues with third party data sources?
  • What is the value proposition for Leonardo? Can SAP provide transparency into the cost of Leonardo within the SAP solutions as well as define specific, quantifiable benefits it will bring to the business, (e.g., additional value/revenue/sales)?
  • As line of business executives and CIO’s envision the next level of relationships with SAP beyond their legacy Ariba, Concur, and Fieldglass relationships, are the commercial constructs and financial terms proposed by SAP for the Cloud Platform solutions viable to support expansion and growth in the short and long-term?

3. Leverage your SAP account team and make your time investment last beyond the event

If they haven’t already, your SAP team will reach out to you to set their SAPPHIRE agenda for you in motion. This is a great opportunity to flip the script and have them work to help you achieve the outcomes you want.

Have your account team book face time with SAP executives so you can get more specifics on SAP’s go to market strategy, especially those where you have current or potential future investments. Assign actions, plan the next set of meetings, get commitments, and keep your account team working.

It’s a big ask to take time out of your schedule to travel and attend this event, so use that deposit in the SAP “relationship bank” to work for you by pushing your SAP team to make this event about you, their customer.

You’ll probably leave SAPPHIRE with a sack of SAP swag and, if you’re lucky, a killer selfie with Justin Timberlake. But, if you plan and drive a strategy for your SAP team, you should also leave having put your SAP relationship on a path that focuses on delivering value to your organization.

Stay tuned

To help you prepare for SAPPHIRE and make the most of your experience, we will publish more blogs leading up to the event with recommendations for line of business executives and CIO’s specific to each SAP offering.

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