SAP SE / Eventrix

Sapphire 2022: Klein majors on sustainability and supply chain resilience

At SAP’s first in-person Sapphire customer conference in three years, CEO Christian Klein and his top team revisited the themes of sustainability and supply chain resilience, which were prominent in 2020 and 2021

In the keynote at the first post-pandemic Sapphire conference, SAP CEO, Christian Klein discussed supply chain resilience, sustainability and business process transformation.

The 2022 iteration of the supplier’s annual customer and partner flagship event has been broken down into nine regional conferences, with the first being held as a scaled-down live event in Orlando, Florida. North European SAP customers will meet in The Hague on 17 May.

In a statement, Klein said: “For 50 years, SAP’s mission-critical solutions and deep industry expertise have helped businesses around the world run their best. We’re uniquely positioned to continue enabling our customers’ success in a rapidly evolving world by driving cloud-based digital transformation that solves customers’ most pressing challenges, from supply chain resilience to sustainability.”

Supply chain resilience and sustainability have been big themes of Klein’s Sapphire keynotes during the Covid-19 period, and he returned to that ground at this conference.

Julia White, the chief marketing and solutions officer who joined SAP from Microsoft during the pandemic, had rough parity with Klein in the opening keynote, which also featured executives from customers Lenovo, Unilever, and Brazilian packaging company BoxPrint.

Klein welcomed in-person attendees at the start with an admission: “As much as we all got used to working virtually, I cannot tell you how much I missed this week here in Orlando to experience live what makes SAP so special: you, our community with over 400,000 customers, and 23,000 partners, from over 140 countries.”

SAP has announced some products at Sapphire said to improve supply chain efficiency and endue them with greater resilience. Among those are a suite of iOS apps aimed at streamlining the “digital supply chain and empower workers with intuitive tools”. Two of the apps, SAP Warehouse Operator and SAP Direct Distribution, are available in the Apple App Store.

The supplier also flagged in is statement its recent acquisition of a majority stake in Taulia, a financial technology company that is focused on working capital management.

Etosha Thurman, chief marketing and solutions officer, intelligent spend and business network, SAP made mention of that in her segment of the keynote, which gave an update on last year’s announcement of a business network, consisting of  SAP’s Ariba procurement network, together with its Logistics Business Network and its Asset Intelligence Network.

Christian Klein
SAP CEO Christian Klein during his Sapphire conference keynote

The supplier is trumpeting “new capabilities in SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises”, including enhancement to “SAP Product Footprint Management so customers can reduce product carbon footprints at scale with live connectivity from SAP S/4Hana Cloud, including transport and travel capabilities”.

Another strain of new product announcements for Sapphire is in the broad area of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), alongside process automation and no-code/low code development.

Here, SAP AppGyver is billed as a no-code/low code enterprise application development system that features native integration with SAP Service Cloud. It is available as part of the free tier for the SAP Business Technology Platform. SAP Process Automation, which is also part of the platform, has been reportedly enhanced for no-code workflow management and robotic process automation (RPA).

Additionally, SAP is flagging AI-based optimisers for business processes that include “lead-to-cash”, “design-to-operate”, “recruit-to-retire” and “source-to-pay”.

Klein summed up his address, after an interchange with Accenture’s chair and CEO Julie Sweet, that was mostly about the theme of sustainability. “Let’s reinvent how enterprises run for the next 50 years – resilient, intelligent and sustainable”, he said.

For her part, Sweet said her firm sees sustainability holistically. “[Sustainability is] one of the forces that will shape the next decade, and the leading companies will be the ones that are able to harness that force. So, when we think about how we operate, SAP has been an important partner,” she said.

She noted that Accenture had been an early adopter of S/4 Hana Finance “not just to close the books, but to get access to real-time data to operate sustainably”, adding: “We are the first in our industry to report against big six ESG frameworks, and we could not do that without SAP.”

SAP’s Rise with SAP service is mentioned in the statement alongside “Soar with Accenture”. The two services are said to “integrate and deliver what businesses need for cloud-based transformation, including cloud infrastructure management, application management and operations services”.

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