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In my world, it’s not too early to start thinking about SAPPHIRE NOW 2018, which I’ll cover onsite this year June 5-7 in Orlando, Florida. One of my first steps was to catch up with Chakib Bouhdary, Global Digital Transformation Officer at SAP (at right). Bouhdary is a busy guy, traveling worldwide to talk with SAP customers on every continent to find out their challenges and I was eager to find out what he’s heard. These are the top three customer priorities, along with how SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 will address them.

Nobody is safe: customer experience makes the difference

It’s no surprise that if you have a weakness in your business model, somebody will come and take advantage of it. Companies are focused on how they can deliver the best experience to their customers, strengthening those all-important, long term relationships in new ways.

“Companies want to know how they can build better products and services that will change business models,” said Bouhdary. “While omnichannel selling is still important, these latest deep discussions go far beyond to explore new investments so companies can enter new markets and revolutionize industries.

For example, at SAPPHIRE NOW, people will see real-life examples of how leading companies are using SAP’s integrated solutions -- SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Hybris, supply chain software -- to reinvent the customer experience in their stores, banking systems or insurance organization.”

Show us how to innovate for game-changing productivity

Companies want to know how to use innovations like machine learning, blockchain and IoT to completely transform asset management and significantly improve productivity.

“Rethinking productivity using predictive data and machine learning can transform your business structure for game-changing productivity improvements,” said Bouhdary. “Can we use machine learning to completely manage our shared services? Can we automate how we do business with our ecosystem so the business network eliminates paper and redundancy? The keynotes, expert sessions and hands-on demos at SAPPHIRE NOW will answer these kinds of questions, showing everyone how tremendous productivity gains can lower costs enough to reallocate investments towards innovations that build the business and provide greater shareholders value.”

Winning the talent war: people and culture

Every company needs to create an environment that attracts and keeps top talent with a culture of innovation.

“A company’s brand has to be attractive to a new generation of talent – this is a hugely competitive area. There’s also a need for companies to retool employees, using technology to improve the way people work,” said Bouhdary. “How do you introduce voice into the workplace so people can get information wherever and whenever they need it?  How do you create much better analytics so your executives don’t spend all their time searching for data?  How do you free up production costs so people have the time to think about solving problems rather than creating them?”

With SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 a few months away, there’s much more to come!

Follow me @smgaler

This blog was originally posted on the SAP News Center.