Insights into SAP BTP from Jason Bell: Part 1 Customer

Posted on June 2024 By Speller International

With the push to Cloud and thus conversations of “clean core” in full motion, SAP BTP has been the hot topic on everybody's lips of late, and whilst many people have a basic understanding of SAPBTP we thought our readers could benefit from Jason Bell’s expertise on this subject. 

Jason is SAP’s ANZ Head for Customer Success in BTP and has been able to give us some great insights not only for Consultants wishing to upskill into this space but also to Customers who may be looking at utilising SAP BTP to its full potential. 

We have separated this into a two - parts, with one focusing more from a skillset and what a position in SAP BTP involves whilst the other is focused on what SAP BTP offers to the customer. 

We recommend reading both regardless of where your specific interest in SAP BTP falls.

Please follow the link to continue through to see what Jason has to say on the functionality of SAP BTP and his journey into this area in Part 2 the Consultant.

In this article, Jason talks about what SAP BTP can offer customers.

Why would you recommend a company to invest in BTP? 

There are a lot of benefits I could talk about from an SAP point of view like pre-delivered content, native integration, security, data fabric, etc; but that stuff is available on-line on the SAP website, so instead I will focus on the benefits from moving to a cloud mindset from a platform perspective.

I think of it like this, when I was an SAP ABAP Developer, I did not have to think of framework code like security, accessing the DB, UX, etc, I could simply write business code in a framework that took care of all the rest. This allowed me to be agile and business focused. When you move to our competitors cloud platforms you tend to lose all those “niceties” and now you do have to think of framework code, security, UI, or plumbing code, all before you can focus back on the business logic. With SAP BTP as my cloud platform, I get all of that provided again. Which means I can shift my focus back on the business problem and business logic. Sure, it is a little more complex than that, but as cloud platforms go, BTP really does do the heavy lifting so the developer can remain business productive. Outside of that, they key benefits are a modern decoupled cloud architecture, the ability to protect the core with ease, reduced time-to-value, access to new technologies, and the ability to attract new talent.

What are the 3 top functions of BTP can do for a company? 

If I look through the Business lens, I would say the key messages are: 

  • BTP is an essential component to protect the core systems from accumulating debilitating technical debt, or to help reduce it if you already have mounting technical debt in the core systems. This allows you to manage your systems more easily and stay more up to date with latest release features and fixes. 

  • Once you have established a modern cloud architecture necessary to protect the core, you then have the ability to accelerate change within the organisation. When applications, or app extensions, are decoupled from the core, change can happen with a different level of rigor, risk, or control as is typical for core essential systems. For example, a change to the sales module in the core is fundamental, has broad impact, and requires careful handling. But the same change in a field services sales app developed on SAP BTP using supported S/4 API’s might have a more limited business impact in terms of users, more narrowly defined scope, automated testing to eliminate most simple bugs, a greater risk tolerance for change (depending on the users), and a different accepted change cadence as a result. 

  • I would say the business value from establishing a core data fabric with Datasphere and SAP Analytics Cloud cannot be understated. Data is the modern world currency for value and actionable insights, and a foundation for embracing new technologies like Gen AI, so having a good data foundation is essential.

If I look through a technical lens on the other hand, the focus shifts to how developing on SAP BTP is easier than other cloud platforms due to its seamless integration with the SAP landscape and all the components that take care of the heavy lifting like security, low code / no code solutions, Cloud Application Programming (CAP), to name a few. But again, I would highlight the new decoupled architecture isolates extension code allowing for a very different pace of change in the development space so you really can embrace change and operate at pace.

What are the biggest mistakes that a business could make while using SAP BTP?  

This is a tough one since a lot of challenges people face has more to do with SAP BTP being adopted incrementally for tactical reasons, for example, I will use Integration Suite here because I have some pre-delivered content to make it easy. This approach can lead companies to adopt emerging standards and emerging architecture patterns rather than strategically aligning the various domain technology strategies and standards ahead of time. Customer also find the technology direction being set either by the existing internal team talent, or the capability of their existing partners. A “capability led” strategy is not always the best way to get the best out of such an extensive and flexible platform.

The other one I would say is not adjusting to how modern developers work. A lot of SAP ABAPers have lived in a sheltered SAP development environment for too long and have not embraced the new ways of working. Outside of the SAP space building automated tests into your code is not only commonplace, but also considered mandatory. When I proposed to my Dev team some years ago, to start including automated unit tests in their code there was a revolt! But moving to the cloud and embracing new technologies is the perfect time to rethink the old ways of doing things and explore the benefits of new ways. I know by personal experience how beneficial it is to have achieved fully automated regression testing in a public facing application and the comfort I feel when making and deploying changes.

In companies that have already implemented BTP, what have been the biggest changes?  

The biggest change I have seen is their “time to value”. Customers have accelerated how quickly they can build, test, and deploy new solutions for their business. Also, their architecture; for example, centralising their UI entry point or workflows, moving their integration all out to the cloud, easily mobilising business processes, or optimising their business processes. Another big impact has been the “clean core” approach. We have seen customers like Hitachi High Tech reduce their customisation footprint by 94% and reduce their upgrade cycle from 18 months (once every 5 years) to 1 month (each year). An interesting side-effect they found with the introduction of a modern cloud platform was they were able to attract new young talent to their development teams due to the modern technologies available. 

What should companies do before implementing BTP for the best outcomes?  

1. I think is to understand the benefits of moving to the cloud. Too often we see companies move their on-prem technologies and ways of working to the cloud and not see the full potential of working in the cloud; so step one I think is to develop a cloud mindset.

2. Develop an SAP BTP strategy and align each domain specific strategy with the cloud technology domains, for example, integration. 

3. If you are aiming for a clean core strategy, understand the importance and need for executive sponsorship within your organisation. Adopting a clean core approach can be met with significant resistance when people are faced with time or cost pressures and want to revert to organisational habits and old ways of doing things. With good top-down support you can build your SAP BTP cloud strategy, align it per domain, and resist the pressure to compromise and do things the old way as you are transitioning to a new cloud centre of excellence. 

Where do you see this technology going in the next year/5 years/10 years? 

I am not great at forecasting or I’d have bought a bunch of bitcoin in 2009! Having said that, it seems clear to me that AI is going to continue to be impactful and disruptive, so all technologists need to have a good understanding of where AI will impact their businesses, and where they should be looking to learn and leverage AI technologies. But this will be a fast-paced area and will take a lot of energy and enthusiasm to keep up. Beside that I see a clear focus on data and security, so I expect to see much more focus on building out data strategies and a modern information architecture, which is essential to really take advantage of AI anyway.

Get in touch with Speller today if you want to discuss your BTP resourcing needs.