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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert


During SAP Global Partner Kick-Off on January 23, Karl Fahrbach, SAP’s Chief Partner Officer, stressed that there is a huge opportunity for partners who are willing to adapt their businesses to capitalize on Artificial Intelligence – an addressable market in the U.S. forecast to be $205 billion within three years. Considering the global ERP software market was approximately $54 billion in 2022, the AI opportunity will be bigger than ERP by 2028.

Fahrbach told partners to consider the potential impact when providing both ERP and AI solutions. “The power of AI – deployed in a relevant, reliable, and responsible way across end-to-end business data that the SAP systems represent – is truly a unique opportunity,” he said. “How we leverage that unique market position and opportunity to maximum effect is the key to our joint success.”

He emphasized that SAP is taking a partner-led approach, giving partners autonomy to create value in specific industries or regions, with SAP as the “orchestrator” providing support and guidance to make the most of current opportunities. He explained that SAP is investing in innovation and industry-leading products, but helping businesses transform, innovate, and expand by offering tailored SAP offerings is the opportunity for partners.

The Importance of The Case for Cloud 

Following his address to partners, Fahrbach joined Thi Than Thuong Tran, Global Head of Ecosystem Advocacy and Amplification at SAP, for a fireside chat to discuss cloud computing’s key role in success in 2024.

Fahrbach pointed out that businesses understand that the cloud is where innovation and business transformation occur. In fact, he pointed out that companies that continue to take a wait-and-see posture are now five to seven years behind their competitors who have transitioned from on-premises to cloud solutions.

Take AI,” he commented. “There is no way to leverage the full capabilities of AI without cloud.” He continued by noting that SAP’s private cloud offering, RISE with SAP, and public cloud offering, GROW with SAP, give businesses the foundation for genuine transformation. Partners have the pivotal role of ensuring that SAP customers adopt and consume cloud solutions and services so they can achieve their business goals. Partners will also increase the value of SAP products by innovating to create end-to-end processes that lead to business transformation.

Fahrbach pointed out, however, that all partners are not currently enabled to seize the large greenfield opportunity in the mid-market by providing GROW with SAP. He said it requires creating value with SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and following principles of clean core and demand generation. For partners willing to commit and adapt their businesses, SAP has created a new designation for GROW with SAP. Partners who pursue this designation will be equipped to address the needs of companies transitioning to a public cloud.

Enhancing the Customer Value Journey

Fahrbach added that the most successful SAP partners are no longer transactional. Instead, they take the role of trusted advisors and align with SAP to engage throughout the Customer Value Journey. Partners must stay in touch beyond the sale to ensure customers get the greatest and fastest value from solutions and support their cloud transformation. He said SAP’s role is evolving to be more prescriptive, advising partners on how to deliver the most value to customers.

“Customers are requesting it,” he said. “They want partners to be more aligned with SAP.” He added that SAP plans to accelerate engagement with systems integrators for top customer accounts. In 2024, SAP will also broaden partner-led territories’ go-to-market initiatives, giving mature partners more autonomy. Additionally, SAP is inviting a selected group of global strategic partners to join a new initiative to boost cloud growth and adoption in strategic areas, including AI, sustainability, SAP BTP, and clean core principles.

Furthermore, while SAP continues to focus on its cloud and AI roadmap, it plans to strengthen partnerships with software developers to add value for end-to-end processes. Fahrbach said that relationship will extend to marketing solutions that include partner IP. SAP has found this is a mutually beneficial model, with higher attach and success rates in top accounts that adopt partner solutions.

The Key to Success

Fahrbach urged SAP partners to recognize the speed of innovation and disruption and, therefore, the need to continue learning. “Every six months, there’s disruption in the market,” he said. “Partners need to train regularly. Look at your team’s skills, what customers want, and invest in training and enablement to ensure your team is up to speed.”

He shared that SAP has created a new partner experience on SAP Learning. He pointed out partners often report that capacity is a challenge, but by training current staff, partners can increase their capacity to provide solutions based on new technologies. He added that partners should also evaluate processes to determine which could be automated so that resources can focus on delivering higher-value services.

Fahrbach closed out his keynote by emphasizing that partners who adopt and align with SAP cloud concepts and offerings, invest in training and transforming their businesses to support them, adopt an end-to-end business process view, and build AI use cases and extensions on SAP BTP will position themselves for success.

To watch a replay of the SAP Global Partner Kick-Off keynote, other on-demand sessions, and access resources to help you capitalize, log in or register on the event webpage.