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Rise and Fall with SAP

Sapphire is SAP's annual review of the community. In the keynotes, people analyze and conjure up the future. This time it was different: The past was not accounted for, but suppressed. The visionary look into the future was dominant.
Simone Sailer,
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
September 15, 2021
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Any Rise transformation should start with a data-driven analysis of business processes, SAP hopes. In an inquiry, SAP stated, "Signavio Process Intelligence and SAP Process Insights are the ideal tools to start this journey. SAP Process Insights is tailored to the needs of an S/4 transformation and leverages our deep expertise on how processes should run in S/4. SAP BPI, which is comprised of Signavio solutions and SAP Process Insights, is the strategic choice for any customer moving into the future as part of Rise."

Naturally, the latest actions confuse SAP's existing customers. After all, the process mining tool Celonis was on the SAP price list (PKL) for years. Celonis was praised a few years ago by Professor Hasso Plattner in Potsdam himself as a future analysis tool.

"Celonis is no longer an SAP partner", it is now said on the occasion of the Sapphire, ".but of course we will honor and fulfill the existing contracts. However, we see a clear benefit for our customers in using BPI solutions for the S/4 and Rise journey and will therefore help them to smoothly transition from Celonis to our own tools."

Change and visions

It was the second, unofficial topic of the Sapphire: Change - what do I care about my chatter from yesterday. SAP introduced the Business Network at its customer conference. It is intended to be the first step in creating new business communities. The new network is intended to help companies work more efficiently, adapt better to changing economic and geopolitical conditions, and contribute to greater sustainability.

So SAP announced a series of innovations designed to help customers optimize their business processes, improve their performance, and realize their full potential. The question of what happened in the past was left out.

Professor Hasso Plattner: "Cloud means a gigantic improvement."
SAP CEO Christian Klein: "We don't develop technology for its own sake."

Companies are to use SAP Process Insights as part of the Business Process Intelligence (BPI) portfolio to analyze and improve their real-world business processes. EY, Deloitte and Infosys Limited are the first strategic partners to work with the Signavio-based BPI portfolio to help companies transform.

Naturally, the topic of AI can't be missed: A new Verify feature, a service from Concur, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify potential issues and discrepancies in expense reports. The AI models are based on analysis of more than a billion euros worth of travel expenses and many millions of expense receipts.

Verify is able to approve expense reports that have no issues while highlighting irregularities. Through this AI-powered process, auditors don't waste time reviewing expense reports that comply with travel policies and can more easily detect compliance issues or fraud.

There was also another mutation of low-code/no-code solutions (LCNC) at Sapphire. After the inclusion of Mendix (Siemens) in PKL many years ago, the presentation of Ruum at SAP TechEd 2020, the acquisition of Signavio including LCNC tools and the acquisition of AppGyver (another LCNC solution) shortly thereafter, now SAP Upscale Commerce, a no-code solution for online commerce that enables mid-market retailers to create a seamless shopping experience across all channels within minutes.

Again, with the help of integrated artificial intelligence, retail companies can create personalized offers. This is based on sentiment analyses in social media and purchasing data, which provide a comprehensive picture of customers.

Thanks to headless API architecture, merchants can provide customers with real-time information about their purchase and delivery across all channels. Upscale Commerce is naturally integrated with S/4, so all customer-visible functionality is linked to finance, logistics, and order fulfillment on the back end for a seamless customer experience.

DSAG chief Jens Hungershausen: "Rise is designed to bring SAP customers to the cloud."
SAP Executive Board Member Julia White: "Don't just transfer apps to the cloud."

But the focus of Sapphire was clearly on Rise with SAP to the Cloud: "While many of our customers will have a transition period to our private cloud, Rise will accelerate their journey. We have had the opportunity to work with a significant number of customers, and in most cases the overall TCO reduction far outweighs the overlap with license fees during the short transition period."

Rise or Fall

On the occasion of Sapphire, Jens Hungershausen, Chairman of the Board of the German-speaking SAP User Group, commented on the latest releases: "Rise with SAP combines SAP's approach of bringing their customers into cloud scenarios with other offerings that are covered with the topic of business transformation. By the way Business Process Intelligence is pursued or how business processes are to be implemented by means of existing -Business Networks like Ariba, customers are to follow this strategy.

For SAP users, this can certainly provide one or the other positive impetus, which, however, still has to prove itself in reality. The planned industry packages for automotive, retail, consumer goods, mechanical engineering, component manufacturers and energy supply sound interesting. The same applies to the enhancements around human resources (human experience management) and the modular cloud ERP. But all of these are also interventions in existing IT landscapes, which are only possible if the solutions addressed can be understood across the entire SAP ecosystem and corresponding projects can be implemented on the basis of viable business cases. We are looking forward to the first experiences that companies in the DACH region will make with Rise and are available to SAP as a sparring partner for reality checks".

Professor Hasso Plattner was surprisingly present at this SAP online event, and so naturally he also commented on the topic of BPI, which was given new impetus by the focus on process mining: -"Business Process Intelligence has been around for decades. We worked with Professor Scheer in the 90s to model our systems completely with this technology, but the models were static. We still have the models in S/4 Hana, but now we're also working with Qualtrics to get feedback from our users and process it, and we recently acquired Signavio - when you combine all these factors, we now have active models. A huge process transformation is now possible."

Celonis versus Signavio

Obviously, SAP wants to catch up with Signavio what was missed with Celonis: the active and automated design of an organizational structure and process organization. "We no longer get the feedback we used to by observing people and how they work, but we can now do that with programs", Hasso Plattner stated on the occasion of Sapphire. "We can analyze the system with Signavio and then start consulting. We can compare it with the results of other customers and improve the processes based on these findings [...] SAP is not a passive spectator. SAP sees what's missing and makes changes to the software. [...] SAP is responsible for the most effective implementation of the software, both in terms of the efficiency of the processes we bring in and the actual implementation."

The new paradigm is transformation based on Rise. Board member Julia White comments: "At Rise with SAP, we don't just take the same processes and transfer them to the cloud. We help customers transform their business. Customer feedback has shown that they need more functionality in Rise."Julia White has only recently joined SAP and came from Microsoft. However, her appearance at Sapphire and her perfect interview with Hasso Plattner made it seem as if Ms. White was an SAP veteran.

On the subject of transformation, Julia White was naturally euphoric: "SAP has expertise in many different industries. SAP solutions can digitally transform the heart of any industry. [...] We help our customers achieve competitive advantage through our extensive business network and end-to-end processes. [...] Disruption and new business opportunities are quickly emerging. Companies that are ahead of the curve in digital transformation are in a better position to respond quickly and seize these opportunities before they pass."

Naturally, SAP did not address the criticism of the current situation: SAP no longer has a unique selling proposition. Almost everything SAP does is somehow right and correct - but other IT providers can do it either just as well or even better. Sapphire showed that it need not be wrong to continue down the ERP path with SAP - but there are no compelling reasons to do so either.

Gigantic improvement

In conclusion, the words of SAP CEO Christian Klein: "We don't develop technology for technology's sake. When you move your existing system landscape to the cloud, not a single process changes. That's where -Business Process Intelligence comes in. We and our partners have so much knowledge, so much expertise, and BPI brings that knowledge into a tool that customers can use to improve their processes. It always starts with Business Process Intelligence, and that's why we acquired Signavio."

To this can only be added the words of Professor Hasso Plattner: "The whole idea of cloud systems means a gigantic improvement."So it's true: Rise and Fall with SAP.

Simone Sailer,

Simone Sailer is responsible for the editorial management of E-3 Magazine's English channels, specifically

Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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