The Best Of SAPPHIRE NOW And ASUG: Our Customers

Fred Isbell

Year after year at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG, I’ve learned many fascinating things about our customers. And as I looked around the room during the opening keynote, I realized that this year’s event will be no different when I saw the incredible representation of leaders from a range of business sizes, industries, regions, and challenges. So as the bus from my hotel pulled into the Orlando Convention Center Wednesday morning, I was excited to hear more inspirational stories from our customers.

MIT moves to the cloud

First up was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Having lived in Boston for almost 30 years, I am proud of the area’s sports teams, colleges, and universities – and MIT clearly tops that list.

As one of our longest-running customers and first public sector customer, MIT’s mission is quite bold. This highly respected university is taking its SAP solution investments to the cloud. This strategy will maximize its return on computing, favoring research and education over administration and support applications.

That’s not only a noble vision, but also a logical business case for not building additional data centers. Interestingly enough, cost wasn’t even the primary driver – for MIT, it’s all about optimizing data-center resources, maximizing investments for “core” requirements, and outsourcing and leveraging managed services for the rest. Their choice of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud was a perfect solution for this business case.

Caterpillar runs simple

Caterpillar is known for being a manufacturer of heavy-duty industrial equipment. But, did you know that the brand is also excellent proof of the business value of SAP solutions?

Focused on solutions for customer engagement and commerce, Caterpillar strives to support growth, standardization, and efficiency through simplification. Through the philosophy of Run Simple, the company is using a mix of standardized SAP solutions to reduce the cost and risk associated with customization. This approach encompasses overall optimization of systems performance, SAP expertise, and SAP solution investments. And like many SAP customers, the goal is to establish a road map for its future implementation of SAP solutions and the SAP S/4HANA suite.

During its session, Caterpillar recommended attendees to engage early. By following fundamental processes, including testing, the final go-live will be relatively quiet and, ultimately, uneventful. I’ve seen the value of assessments over a dozen or more years, and this was no different as the company used an assessment specifically focused on increasing simplification and receding overall total cost of ownership.

Caterpillar is also a great example of innovating with forward-looking support and not waiting for problems to occur first. Through the Run SAP Like a Factory initiative, the company is unifying an operations control center that proactively supports 11 of its SAP instances.

SAPPHIREimageDigital Business Services customer panel

I’ve been saying for quite some time that the future of analytics is predictive. While reporting and dashboard capabilities will remain a mainstay, the ability to predict the future with the combination of Big Data and next-generation analytics will always be a mandate. During an executive-moderated panel hosted by Digital Business Services at SAP, four customers shared their experiences and insights that prove this point.

  • CenterPoint Energy: The application of smart metering has created an unprecedented opportunity for this North American leader in energy distribution – all thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) with a pragmatic business case.
  • Mohawk: This manufacturer of carpet and flooring products is also leveraging the IoT. It is proactively monitoring customer returns and manufacturing – while performing underlying analytics of sensor-based data – to achieve significant cost savings.
  • Honda R&D: For this popular automaker, the notion of connected cars is not only a well-documented solutions area, but also a precursor to driverless, automated cars. To design and produce its vehicles, the company is using sensors and IoT for a sense-and-respond paradigm to increase efficiency.
  • SAP North America: Yes, even SAP uses SAP solutions to apply predictive analytics to enable propensity modeling and offer prescriptive advice to our sales team. Similar to Amazon’s collaborative filtering that advises customers on future purchases, SAP has created an innovative best practice for predictive analytics.

Well, that’s it for now! Moving onto day three, and the SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG experience just gets better and better!

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SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG ANNUAL CONFERENCE, May 17-19, 2016: Live from the event, watch keynotes, strategic sessions, press conferences, and more. Online and on-demand. Learn more here.

About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell worked at SAP for nearly 19 years in senior roles in SAP Marketing. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing spanning nearly 30 years. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.