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Former Member

By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

In my lead up to SAPPHIRE NOW I wrote about many things – the variety of experts representing an amazing diversity of expertise, the “World Cup” of thought leadership and an amazing array of customers all under “one tent”.  Add the amazing array of ASUG sessions representing leaders and experts from our customers and that truly makes for a great event.  Today as I prepared to embark upon “day two” of my SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG adventure I looked at my personal agenda.  Perhaps by accident or maybe by  design but today was to be very much focused  upon SAP customer sessions across both SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG sessions.

After nearly 16 years with SAP and nearly 25 in the SAP ecosystem I’ve learned many fascinating things about SAP and our customers.  First and foremost there’s an amazing representation of leaders among SAP’s customers worldwide.  And that’s not just large organizations and enterprise customers among the industries as the modern SAP represents customers across organizations of all sizes.  So as the bus from my hotel pulled into the Orlando Convention Center this morning, I was ready to taker it's all in and heard from some great stories from amazing  SAP customers!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Moves to the Cloud:

First up was MIT – I wrote about MIT in my account of “The Art of the Possible” earlier this year.  Having lived in Boston for almost 30 years we are proud of our sports teams and our many colleges our many colleges and and universities.  MIT in Cambridge MA is clearly at the top of any list.  MIT is one of the longest running SAP customers being the first SAP Public Sector customer.  MIT has over 11,000 students, over 12,000 employees and a faculty of over 1,000 professors.  The MIT mission is quite bold – to take their SAP solution “into the cloud” and optimize their investments to maximize their “return on computing” to favor research and education over administration and support applications.  That's not only a noble vision but also a pragmatic  business case as they stated “we're not going to build any more data centers!”. I was very impressed by the MIT story – a well-planned and pragmatic approach and a true partnership with SAP including my friend and colleague, Marianne Heer, who heads North American SAP Digital Business Services as one of the executive sponsors.   Interesting how cost wasn't even a primary driver here – it was optimization of their data center resources and maximizing their investment in current resources for “core” requirements and to outsource and leverage managed services for the rest.  Their choice of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) was a perfect solution for their business case and the pronouncement of “Success MIT is in the cloud” was a great testimony of their partnership with SAP.

Caterpillar Runs Simple:

A well-known SAP customer Caterpillar is known for being a manufacturer of heavy-duty industrial equipment and is a long-time SAP customer.  I have heard Caterpillar speak at previous SAP events and haver always found them to be an excellent “proof point” of the business value of SAP solutions”.  Their session focused on their solutions for customer engagement and commerce and their overall  mission to achieve simplification to support growth, standardization and efficiently.  In fact the pronouncement was to “Run Simple” through a mix of standardized SAP solutions with a goal to reduce the cost and risk that comes with customization.  This was focused in three areas: optimize overall systems performance, leverage overall  SAP expertise (Gin the concept of maximizing their focus on their “core mission”), and to optimize the overall SAP solution.  And like many SAP customers the goal is to establish a roadmap for their own journey to their future SAP solutions and SAP S/4HANA.  Funny for many years once of our senior leaders for SAP Digital Business Services has recommended engaging SAP early and often.  Caterpillar’s recommendations was to get engaged early – and by following key  processes (including testing) the final go-live will be "quiet" and ultimately uneventful.  I’ve seen the value of assessments over a dozen or more years and this was no different as they leveraged a “Run Simple” Assessment specifically focused upon simplification as well as receding overall  TCO.  Caterpillar is also a great example of a customer leveraging the “SAP as a factory” concept and having a unified Operations Control Center with management of 11 their SAP instances for proactive support.  That's a great “proof point” of innovations requiring proactive forward looking support and  not waiting for problems to occur first.

SAP Digital Business Services Customer Panel:

I’ve been saying for quite some time that the future of analytics is predictive – we will still require reporting and dashboards but the ability to predict the future with the combination of big data and next generation analytics solutions means this mandate is here to stay.  An SAP Digital Business Services executive moderated a panel of four great customer stories – I’ll come back later and discuss this one in greater detail, but I was extremely impressed by these four great customer stories:

• Centerpoint Energy: as described in my first-day BLOG, the use of smart metering has created an amazing business opportunity for this North American leader in energy distribution.  A great story of the Internet of Things (IoT) with a pragmatic business case and more.

• Mohawk: a manufacturer of carpet and flooring products, also using the Internet of Things (IOT) for both proactive monitoring of customer returns and manufacturing and underlying analytics of sensor-based data to ultimately achieve real cost savings.

• Honda R&D: yes a well-known car manufacturer and “connected cars” is not only a well-documented solutions area but also the precursor to driverless, automated carts of the future.  In their mission toi design and produce automobiles they are leveraging sensors and IoT for a “sense and respond” paradigm to increase efficiency.

• SAP North America:  in another threat use case of “SAP runs SAP” the use of predictive analytics for propensity modeling for and offering prescriptive advice to North American SAP sales people.  Iv’e loved this example – it’s similar to the Amazon “collaborative filtering” for advising customers on what others purchase along with a a given product.  A great best practice for predictive analytics and one that's been close to my experience for SAP Marketing for some time!

Well that’s it for now – moving onto day 3 and the SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG experience just gets better and better!  More to come in my next BLOG!

Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

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