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This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn!

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” – Charles Darwin.

Evolution – If I could sum the keynote of SAPPHIRENOW 2021 in a single word it would be - evolution. I wish I were important and influential enough that I needed to explicitly add the caveat 'These opinions are strictly mine and doesn’t reflect my employer'. But until that happy moment, you can spend the next minutes on my takeaways. I think there were several cleverly hidden and explicit messages we walk away from this year’s virtual show.

My top 5 apparent messages –

  • Launching SAP Business Network – which is the integration of SAP Ariba Network, SAP Logistics Business Network, and SAP Asset Intelligence Network, and beyond an internal integration and impact on "data", it is to become – what Christian Klein termed a few times for business – Communities

  • Launching SAP Process Insights – This impacts beyond migrations to SAP S/4HANA. Getting real-time visibility of your existing as-is processes/landscape and the ability to design and look at your target models, shows how important Signavio is to SAP and the impact all SI's will need on ramping up skills here. P.S - listen to Hasso Plattner – it is pure joy!

  • AppGyver had to make its mark and with SAP Upscale Commerce, the boxes of CX and its integration with S/4HANA was ticked along with low/no code platforms. The 360 view on customer delivery, purchase, sentiment for an omnichannel shopping experience is nicely poised for as they said – midmarket retailers

  • Chasing Zero! By far the boldest message came on Sustainability. Between the power of SAP Business Technology Platform and SAP Analytics Cloud around Green Tokens, Sustainability Control Tower and Product Footprint Management – integrating and embedded sustainability parameters for a company based on quantifiables from the UN SDG and WEF – SAP is taking a stance with all its customers to move towards Zero waste, Zero Emissions, Zero inequality!

  • I keep RISE at the end because it’s significant – the singular reason I summed this SAPPHIRENOW as evolution! RISE has evolved. 5 new Industry packages (Automotive, Retail, Consumer Products, Industrial Machinery, Utilities) are ready. HXM – SuccessFactors and Qualtrics joins the play and consequently, even more pragmatic is RISE with SAP for Modular Cloud ERP – customers pick and choose modules on their RISE contract, so SAP balances the old and new customer estates simultaneously.

There of course were plenty more announcements I’m not (undermining) mentioning here, which shows just how rich the content was within the keynote – so kudos team SAP. But SAP positioning itself as a company that cares and for everyone stood out. The definition of community, the prominence of diversity in the keynote, sustainability, the push on SAP for all markets and start-ups and not just the perception that SAP is applicable to only the Fortune 100 – these are strong messages to push – and I think they achieved them.

If I had a disappointment (or maybe two) it would be –

  • My hope on the keynote really being “live” (especially reading Julia White’s tweets and some other indications on LinkedIn)

  • It’s still not very easy to book sessions, some of my colleagues even had attendance issues

Virtual fatigue does set in and with a constant push of business-as-usual you tend to miss more than usual. It is a miss to physically meeting in Orlando and have plenty of meetings on the side. But SAP still has started with a significantly great job and with the schedule spread so wide, perhaps we’ll consume and understand SAP’s message better.

See you (virtually) at SAPPHIRENOW 2021! What did you think of SAPPHIRENOW? Drop your thoughts I’m keen to hear.