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Jump-starting the digital transformation

Digital transformation is more than the cloud migration of IT systems: Changing business processes sustainably requires foresight and vision. In this interview, SAP Germany CEO Alexander Kläger and SAP Germany COO Susanne Diehm explain how companies can take this step with Rise with SAP and how they can become intelligent organizations in the process.
E-3 Magazine
September 1, 2021
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

E-3: Mr. Kläger, Ms. Diehm, digitization has been taking on a new meaning since last year. What are your customers currently concerned about?

Alexander Plaintiff: If 2020 was the year of upheaval, now is the year of new beginnings. After a phase of reorientation, many companies are now using the lessons learned from the crisis and are using this knowledge to start the concrete implementation of transformation projects. Everyone has now understood how important it is to invest in digitization.

Alexander plaintiff took over the management of SAP Germany in August 2020.

Susanne Diehm: The crisis-related challenges in many industries have once again clearly illustrated how important the digitization of business processes is for resilience and competitiveness. There is now no doubt about this. Therefore, now is the right time for companies to act. 

Susanne Diehm is COO and Head of Cloud Business at SAP Germany.

E-3: What can be the next steps?

Diehm: Every company must find its own individual way to do this. Many of our customers benefit from digital networking with business partners, while others need intelligently linked processes. 

E-3: Is transformation enough?

Plaintiff: There are also cases where new business models are required in order to continue to operate successfully on the market. The fact is that only those companies survive on the market that react quickly and agilely to the needs of customers.

E-3: In order to better support companies in their transformation, you launched Rise with SAP, a comprehensive full-service offering, in January. What is the idea behind this?

Diehm: Our Business Transformation as-a-Service offering delivers world-class business value and critical simplification. We accompany our customers through the process and show them how to get the most out of the transformation step by step with the help of Rise with SAP and achieve maximum added value. In this way, we simplify the entire transformation process and accelerate the change to an intelligent enterprise.

E-3: This transformation is also partly an organizational and technical release change, isn't it?

Plaintiff: For our customers, the switch to S/4 Hana is always associated with a certain degree of uncertainty, which is why corresponding transformation projects were often postponed in the past. With Rise with SAP, we counteract this and accompany customers on their way to a modernized IT landscape with individual services and tailored solutions - all within the framework of a uniform subscription model. 

E-3: What do you mean by an intelligent company?

Diehm: Intelligent companies are ahead of the market and respond flexibly to changing market conditions. Such organizations exhibit a high degree of networking, automation and scalability and draw their potential from intelligently linked processes. They thus achieve greater flexibility, efficiency, faster realization of added value and ultimately benefit from better business results as a result.

Plaintiff: As part of Rise with SAP, our SAP business technology platform provides a good foundation for this transformation. The integrated platform allows applications to be created, managed and deployed, and data and business processes to be linked.

E-3: Which SAP solutions are still part of the package?

Diehm: First, with SAP S/4 Hana Cloud, customers receive our central ERP solution, which we offer either in the Private Edition or Public Edition. With the S/4 Hana Cloud Private Edition, our customers are free to choose which provider - Hyperscaler or SAP - they want to have host their systems. This gives our customers the flexibility and business decision-making freedom they need to be competitive. Companies can also use our Busi-ness Process Intelligence to streamline and improve business processes with the help of analysis, simulation and monitoring. Customers can also access the SAP Business Network, which connects more than five million companies in more than 200 countries. 

E-3: And what is the goal?

Plaintiff: Companies drastically simplify their transformation and their IT operations with the offer: They receive all important components bundled from one contractual partner - software, support, infrastructure and managed services come from a single source. Our customer ElectronicPartner, for example, shows how this works in practice: The IT and electronics wholesaler has implemented the switch to S/4 Hana with Rise with SAP and now benefits from significantly more flexible business processes. 

E-3: With this offering, the cloud focus at SAP is also moving further
in the center - are customers going along with this step?

Diehm: I have perceived the development of Rise with SAP in recent months as very positive, and interest is high across all industries. Our customers trust us and are increasingly taking the path to the cloud with us. The fact that our partners support the focus on cloud solutions is shown not least by the excellent cloud results in the first quarter. 

Plaintiff: Good timing certainly also plays an important role in the positive response. Many companies are ready for major changes and need reliable support now in implementing their projects - this is especially true for cloud migration. 

E-3: As part of Sapphire Now, you also announced industry-specific transformation packages with Rise with SAP for Industries.

Plaintiff: With Rise with SAP for Industries, we specifically address the individual needs of different industries. For example, an automotive manufacturer has different requirements for its IT services than a wholesaler. We map these differences with transformation packages tailored specifically to different industries. 

Diehm: Customers can expand the existing offering in this way for their specific business requirements. We currently offer packages for the following industries: Automotive, Retail, Consumer Goods, Equipment and Machinery, and Utilities. With Rise with SAP for Modular Cloud ERP, users can also easily extend their solution with modules for human resources, analytics, procurement or identity management. This enables companies to respond even more specifically to the needs of their departments and industries.

E-3: What developments do you expect in the next few months with regard to the new services?

Diehm: We look forward to working closely with our customers and implementing many exciting transformation projects. The service will continue to evolve and will be continuously adapted to the individual needs of customers.    

Plaintiff: Due to the ongoing digitization drive, we are currently in a very exciting phase that will bring about many changes. As part of Rise with SAP, we will be actively shaping this change in the near future.

E-3: Thank you for the interview.

Rise with SAP in practice: system change under your own steam

ElectronicPartner, headquartered in Düsseldorf, is one of Europe's largest retail groups in the household and consumer electronics, IT, multimedia and telecommunications sectors. SAP has been the strategy for the company's Digital Core for many years.

In order to be able to move business processes more flexibly and in line with demand, the group opted for SAP S/4 Hana Cloud Private Edition last year. Matthias Assmann, CIO of the Verbund Group, comments: "With Rise with SAP, we were able to make the switch to S/4 Hana under our own steam and thus bring significantly more flexibility to our business processes." Based on additional solutions from the SAP ecosystem, such as Fieldglass, ElectronicPartner has also implemented further aspects of its digitization strategy in a timely manner.

Matthias Assmann: "In the next step, we will develop further state-of-the-art processes for our business operations on the basis of the new technology and in this way set clear trends in the industry."

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