Everything we learned at SAP Sapphire 2018

The German enterprise software giant held its annual Sapphire conference in Orlando last week and Computerworld UK was there to bring you all the biggest stories, including the vendor's renewed assault on the customer relationship management (CRM) market.

Here's everything we learned at Sapphire 2018:

SAP is going big on CRM

SAP is going big on CRM

The big news at Sapphire this year was a renewed effort by SAP to compete in the lucrative CRM software market.

The newly announced product suite - called C/4HANA - closely resembles the market leader Salesforce in capabilities, consisting of: SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Customer Data Cloud (following the Gigya acquisition) and SAP Sales Cloud (following the CallidusCloud acquisition). SAP Hybris has also been rebranded as SAP Customer Experience as a result.

Read next: Everything you need to know about SAP’s new CRM product: C/4HANA

The interesting part is how bullish SAP's CEO Bill McDermott is about this move, and his positioning of Salesforce as a legacy CRM provider.

Speaking on an earnings call back in April he said: "So-called cloud CRM is nothing more than overpriced software running on first generation SaaS architecture.

"This is probably why so many have responded so eagerly to SAP's recent statement about a new vision for CRM. They know change is coming, we are coming."

We have some Leonardo ‘innovation kits’

We have some Leonardo ‘innovation kits’

After relaunching as a "digital innovation system" at Sapphire last year, SAP has been working on bringing some Leonardo use cases to the market, as well as starting to package up some of the most popular 'scenarios' to be consumed off the shelf.

Tracking its progress so far, SAP chief innovation officer Juergen Mueller said during a press Q&A at Sapphire that it had tracked 196 Leonardo 'scenarios' to date, up from 15 at the time of launch.

"Probably in a year from now we will have a four-digit number of Leonardo scenarios," he added.

As a result SAP released 23 Leonardo-based innovation kits for specific industries, for use cases across retail, life sciences, manufacturing and automotive.

For example, the Leonardo kit for automotive gives quick access to fleet insights.

According to the vendor: "This cloud-based application optimises fleet operations by bringing sensor data together with business data to provide a global view of fleet performance for strategic decision making, and a detailed view of each vehicle for real-time operations management."

Read next: How BASF prototyped an email categorising bot with SAP Leonardo

SAP also announced that it had doubled the number of solutions available to customers under the new SAP Leonardo Partner Medallion Initiative, with partners including Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, EY, HCL, Hitachi Consulting, Mindtree’s SAP practice Bluefin, PWC and Wipro, to name just a few.

SAP has a new slogan

SAP has a new slogan

SAP's new slogan, alongside 'run simple', is more of an internal calling card: the intelligent enterprise.

Speaking about this culture change, SAP founder Hasso Plattner said: "Intelligent enterprise is more than ERP [enterprise resource planning]. We have here surrounded the centrepiece of our intelligent enterprise - the Cloud Platform - with our applications. The intelligent enterprise is not a product... it is a system."

"We defined that these systems are part of a family, not just the financial umbrella of SAP, but part of the family 'intelligent enterprise'," he added.

Read next: Hasso Plattner on the cultural shift behind SAP's 'intelligent enterprise’

During a press Q&A after his keynote Plattner added: "We should write a Harvard Business Review about this, it is textbook: have the right strategy.

"Second: find the right leadership, we need leaders otherwise 4,500 people don't start marching, we know this since Caesar.

"And we need branding, I have learned this. Branding of a project has a huge importance to unite the people working so the internal branding of 'intelligent enterprise' helps these people to feel they are part of a family and not part of a conglomerate."

SAP is still demystifying its licensing

SAP is still demystifying its licensing

After being the hot topic in 2017, indirect access and licensing were nowhere to be seen during the keynotes at Sapphire this year as the company looks to move beyond this ugly issue.

The Americas' User Group (ASUG) is still working with customers to demystify this issue though and offer advice. As a result of one such session we had another crack at breaking down the modernised ERP pricing approach in plain English. Read next: Demystifying the new SAP ERP pricing model

The key here is that the new pricing model is optional, but charging dependant on usage instead of the number of users simply makes sense. How SAP communicate that is the more complicated issue.

SAP Cloud Platform is available with all of the big three public cloud providers

SAP Cloud Platform is available with all of the big three public cloud providers

SAP's Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering - SAP Cloud Platform - now integrates with all three of the big public cloud providers: AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Cloud Platform has been generally available on AWS for about a year and was available in beta for GCP and Azure up until now.

A press release by the vendor reads: "SAP continues to expand and enhance its multicloud strategy with the general availability of SAP Cloud Platform on Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

"With these additions, along with Amazon Web Services (AWS), SAP Cloud Platform is now available on all major hyperscale cloud infrastructure providers. Only SAP delivers this single enterprise platform as a service (PaaS) with such flexibility, openness and choice."

The vendor also announced its intention to release a private editions of SAP Cloud Platform on IBM Cloud as a private cloud deployment.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.