Posted on September 2021 By Brad Lister
Last week was the SAP Australian User Group (SAUG) Annual Summit and the Speller team took time out from its day-to-day recruitment and resourcing activities to attend the sessions.
Don’t panic - if you missed the memo on this event or just didn’t have time to attend, here’s a wrap of the event, key themes and ‘take homes’ from Speller SAP account manager Brad Lister.
SAUG recognised that it would be difficult to hold attendees’ attention through 16 hours of presentations delivered over two days, so they adapted and delivered four outstanding one-hour events spread over four days.
The days were separated in to four key themes: Transform, Redefine, Innovate and Optimise. Each day we heard from a customer with a case study, a product partner who is delivering meaningful product change to overcome challenges from past experiences, and each day finished with a panel discussion of the overall theme of the day.
Key ‘take homes’ from this year’s summit
COVID has presented a lot of challenges in the global landscape. The SAP world is no different. Companies have faced different challenges and the one constant is the requirement to change or pivot to remain relevant.It has accelerated the requirement to transform from ‘would be nice’ to it’s a necessity’.
While each topic covered different areas, three key themes were constants.
Data and Analytics
The adage ‘knowledge is power’ is as true as ever – every presentation spoke about data and how it was delivering meaningful change. Data has driven almost all decisions during the pandemic. Globally we found ourselves in a position where we could not use historical data so needed new models and analysis to identify current situations and try and forecast with new data sets.
Companies were scrambling to understand the impact of the pandemic on people: Can they still operate efficiently from home? How are we engaging with our customers? How are our customers impacted? How have the needs of our staff and customers changed? Data was the only tool we had to answer those questions and work towards an understanding and solutions.
Change is a constant - just look at your life right now. From WFH, lockdowns, masks, exercise restrictions to online shopping, click and collect, and entertainment options, your interactions and your requirements have changed.
This is just as true in the business world, so companies needed to pivot and quickly. All the companies that spoke at the summit said that their customers – both employees and end customers - were at the forefront of their focus.
This fed back into data, to identify what had changed and predict what could potentially be needed in the future. Companies realised they needed to innovate and transform their processes to engage more meaningfully and find new ways to meet the needs of their customers.
In an SAP world, this means more analytics, better use of UX tools such as Fiori Launch pad, improving speed through leveraging the cloud, and SAC capabilities. It includes changes in customer interaction and order taking, greater reliance on digital services, and massive changes to logistics and operations processes.
It’s not going anywhere, and not just when it comes to SAP. Many companies spoke of the scramble of the various lockdowns and how they would interact to deliver business critical requirements from home.
Cloud-based tools, like those offered by Microsoft, allowed business to continue virtually to share data, screens and to engage face-to-face online.
A move from traditional hardware, increased speed, and reduced time allowed for a better user experience once operating correctly.
There was a big push on the product side to the advantages of the cloud to complete maintenance, upgrades and sending changes into production. While none of these are new, our situation now means many of these factors are now necessities.
Was there an overarching theme or preferred technology this year?
One surprising theme that popped up a couple of times was SAP standard. We all know the easiest way to get a solution in is to follow the instructions, however often this does not suit business requirements.
We heard from several SAP customers that if you spend enough time understanding your processes and getting the business onboard, you can implement a minimal viable product to work with your processes. Then, once the solution is in, you can work towards fixing any efficiency gaps. Planning, getting business buy-in and knowing your process is key.
Change was the overarching theme no matter how you cut it. Remember the themes: Transform, Redefine, Innovate and Optimise. These all mean ‘change’, in one way or another.
Every business had a different reason and required different changes. The similarities between the case studies were about accelerating use and adopting the cloud, unlocking meaningful insights through data and analytics, and improving customer and user experiences.
What was your favourite session?
Craig Bassett from Fuchs Lubricant. Being a bit of a finance guy at heart, I always find mergers and acquisitions an interesting topic – and we’re seeing A LOT of it now. I find the process very interesting - the bean counters analyse the finances, R&D understand their products and their suitability to the existing companies’ area of operations, lawyers get involved and then you have a new company. And then the real fun begins – how do we fit this square peg into that round hole?
I thought that the Fuchs approach was clear and customer centric. They combined a lot of the themes of SAUG. They took the time to understand both businesses and they aligned and implemented processes and consolidated manufacturing and logistics. The CEO had one clear instruction: the end client must not know this change is taking place.
What’s your advice to SAP consultants on the direction of SAP this year?
It’s going to be a busy year so be open to new opportunities! Jump at any opportunity to work on S4 or any associated cloud products. The new skills are becoming harder to find with a lack of immigration, so it is an excellent opportunity to carve out a niche for yourself.