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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

As the global lead for the topic of industry cloud for channel partners at SAP, I talk with a lot of people about SAP’s industry cloud. Since it is a relatively new concept, I often speak with people who hear about industry cloud for the first time and are struggling to understand the concept.  In one conversations, it become clear that the challenge when talking about industry cloud is that there are a LOT of details and layers of information involved.  So much so that it makes the topic very challenging to understand.

In my eagerness to simply the “story” in a conversation I was having with a colleague, I boiled down the concept to a particular statement: “Industry cloud solutions are kind of like Lego blocks that you snap on to each other.”    Two weeks later, that individual shared with me that the one thing he remembered the best from our previous discussion was “the Lego story,” and that it helped him understand what SAP’s industry cloud was all about. Suddenly, an analogy was born!.

Comparing Lego blocks with SAP’s industry cloud solutions.
I hope it is safe to assume that everybody knows what Lego blocks are.  The toy staple from childhood has kept countless kids (and many grown-ups) happy over the decades. But what’s the connection to SAP’s industry cloud?

When it comes to SAP’s industry cloud solutions, the most important characteristics, according to SAP’s Architecture and Development Guide are:

    • It is a public cloud solution
    • It is built/integrated via SAP BTP
    • Solves a business problem in one (or more) industries
    • Its UI looks like SAP Fiori
    • It comes with content and integration
    • It’s using SAP commercialization models

Based on those qualifying characteristics, below is an overview of my key six comparisons between Lego blocks and SAP’s industry cloud solutions:

NoLego blocks characteristicConnection to the criteria of SAP’s Industry Cloud solutions
1Each Lego block is clearly its own (proud) entity, existing independent of other blocks.Industry cloud solutions are separate public cloud solutions, outside SAP S/4HANA.  This complies to the strategy of “keeping the core clean.”
2All blocks look somewhat similar, as if they are parts of the same “system” (which they are of course).The user interface of industry cloud solutions must follow the SAP Fiori design principle to ensure consistent user experience across multiple cloud solutions.
3Blocks can “snapon to each other in a standard manner, extending something already built.  Industry cloud solutions are built and/or integrated via SAP BTP to ensure alignment with SAP integration technologies for optimal standardized connection to SAP intelligent suite.
4Each block has “nodules which fit into other blocks.Industry cloud solutions come with out-of- the-box integration and content for easy deployment, leveraging standard APIs.
5Blocks have different colors.Industry cloud solutions have different functional capabilities.
6Lego blocks come in different sizes.An Industry cloud solution can be a small extension on an existing (industry) process in Intelligent suite, or it can be a full new end-to-end industry business process
Bonus item!Children can use Lego blocks in different ways, expressing their individual creativity.  For example, one child might want to use 100 red blocks to build a “perfect” red house.  Another child might use 99 red blocks and one blue block because it is important for him/her to showcase that there is something special about the chimney.SAP has ONE industry cloud.  This means that all the industry cloud solutions are available for all industries.  Thus, a solution originally targeting, for example, manufacturing companies could be used by a professional services company.  This gives customers (and channel partners) a lot of flexibility to innovate and execute on transformational business models.

Building customer systems
A key activity of channel partners is to offer a combination of solutions to their prospects to solve as many needs and pain points as possible.  The below diagram illustrates how this works in the world of Lego comparison.

Explanation: SAP industry cloud solutions are standardized “blocks” a channel partner can source from either SAP or partners and “snap” on top of the SAP intelligent suite system of the specific customer.   Solutions developed by SAP can be found on the indirect price list and solutions from partners can be found on the SAP store.

What is different now?
Until now, it had not really been feasible for a channel partner to leverage anything else other than SAP’s solutions and their own solutions, due to lack of standardization.  I have spoken with channel partners who really wanted to share/use solutions with others, but found it practically impossible due to the high cost of learning exactly how the solution was developed, the special way to deploy it, and the difficulties of keeping it up-to-date to ensure continuous compatibility with underlaying SAP S/4HANA.  Many of these problems are solved now with SAP’s industry cloud.  I often say that with SAP’s industry cloud solutions “you know what you get.”

The Game Changer – More Blocks to Play With!
The good news for channel partners is that due to the standardization of solutions, they now have “more blocks to play with" to build great systems for customers.  As more and more channel partners uplift their mid-market specific solutions into SAP’s industry cloud solutions and start to offer these solutions for other channel partners to resell, channel partners will really benefit from the SAP’s industry cloud strategy also for mid and low mid-market.  The first such solutions are already available.  Some recent examples include the Smart Factory solution of the channel partner All-for-one in Germany and the Easy Farm Cloud solution from the channel partner MTC in China.  Solutions with mid-market as sweet spot.  Contact these partners if you are interested in discussing how you can leverage these solutions.

Moving forward, I plan to write a blog post on the topic of SAP’s industry cloud for SAP channel partners every 2-3 weeks.  Feel free to follow my profile or the “industry cloud” tag.   You can find Q&A and post questions in the industry cloud community.

In my next blog post I analysis a video message to channel partners about industry cloud  from  Peter Maier, president of industries at SAP