• Karissa Warmack

SapphireNOW – Four Key Takeaways

After a week of spring snow clouds, fog and rain, our intrepid Denver-based team was thrilled to escape to sunny Orlando for three days of inspiring keynotes, innovative exhibits and killer networking events (umm, Lady Gaga people!) for SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Conference.

Boasting 30,000 guests from over 100 countries, SAP’s annual celebration of business and technology offered a veritable smorgasbord of announcements, proclamations and shifting strategies. Here are a few highlights:

The ‘Experience’ Economy

Consumers unquestionably desire good experiences, and more and more businesses are responding by explicitly putting experience management at the center of the C-Level agenda. On Tuesday, SAP CEO Bill McDermott kicked-off SAPPHIRE NOW with a keynote about what drives SAP. “Our purpose is in making you run better and improving the world,” he said to the audience of customers and partners. “Experience is everything. Experience is now the organizing principle of the global economy,” said McDermott. And SAP must be the platform for experience data (X) and operational (O) data. It’s true personalization at mass scale.”

The vision came full circle with conversations regarding SAPs November 2018 acquisition of SaaS ‘XM’ vendor Qualtrics. Intended to bring 'experience management' capabilities, the company said it had released 10 services made possible by the Qualtrics acquisition that combine experience with operational data over four areas – customer, employee, product and brand.

The Intelligent Enterprise

The Intelligent Enterprise (the strategy that allows you to rapidly transform data into insight – feeding process automation, innovation, and optimal experience) was a common thread throughout the conference and many companies are aligning their businesses with this vision. Hasso Plattner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and one of the original SAP Co-Founders, took the stage on Wednesday to open Day 2 of SAPPHIRE NOW sharing SAP’s vision for the intelligent enterprise and the value of pairing X and O data. They announced a new bundle of services tapping cloud, AI, and RPA in new intelligent enterprise tools.

Partner First

The SAP ecosystem is a major growth driver for SAP and contributes significantly to the success of SAP customers. To help reach that potential, SAP is developing a next-generation ecosystem, which will refine the partner experience and allow partners to innovate and develop their own IP on SAP Cloud Platform. The company also named it’s first-ever 'chief partner officer,’ emphasizing the growing importance of their partner channel in implementing SAP solutions effectively. At ThinkTank we found this development very interesting, as we have been working tirelessly on our SAP deployment automation tools, and so being able to help the company ensure consistency, speed and standardization of deployment across a broad ecosystem of partners is driving a lot of why we were attending SapphireNOW in the first place.

Women Entrepreneurs

Alicia Tillman, Global Chief Marketing Officer at SAP interviewed entrepreneurs Jasmine Crowe of Goodr and Shirley Chen of Narrativ, along with Vanessa Liu of SAP.iO, to share how small businesses are changing the game in tech. The conference also featured other high-profile women such as actress/businesswoman Sandra Bullock, entrepreneur/philanthropist Karlie Kloss and record-winning Olympic athlete, Lindsey Vonn. These speakers shared their amazing stories about their rise to the top, and how they did so with grace and integrity.

Speaking of powerful women, capping the three-day event was a show-stopping performance by singer/actress/superstar Lady Gaga. A crowd of over 23,000 guests sang along as Gaga belted out her biggest hits like “Million Reasons” and “Born This Way” closing out with her global hit, “Shallow.”

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