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SAP Sapphire 2019: Why The Intelligent Enterprise on S/4HANA Needs to Focus on Humans

Thank you SAP, the Intelligent Enterprise is much better than the Digital Enterprise. To me, digital just means “with computers.” But the Intelligent Enterprise implies doing things better, smarter, and maybe faster.


While SAP Leonardo branding was mostly absent this year, the most important components are represented within the Intelligent Enterprise keynotes spotlighting both experience and AI. Read here:

Qualtrics / XData

The keynote by SAP Founder, Hasso Plattner and Qualtrics Co-Founder Jared Smith, was a great first step towards embracing the experience economy. Qualtrics helps customers send real-time surveys to gauge their customers experience with a brand or a product and can yield remarkable results. Marc Kermisch, CIO of Red Wing Shoes and keynote panelist Monday shared how Qualtrics is helping him to rapidly understand new product ideas in the marketplace. Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, described how SAP has been good at collecting Odata or operational data, but lacked a method for collecting Xdata, or experience data: “Finally we have both OData + XData.”

But what can we all do with this rich new set of experience data, and how does it actually make your enterprise more intelligent? Human Centered Design.

Human Centered Design and 4 Principles

The key to creating the intelligent enterprise is empowering the humans at the center of it. There are four principle methods to achieve this: agility, productivity, innovation, and experience.


Businesses are always changing. Whether they are big or small, the primary driver of business success is the ability to serve your customers better than your competitors, and to constantly improve. These changes at any scale need to be made quickly and efficiently. There is no time for a fixed scope 3-year upgrade project.


Worker’s time is vitally important, as they are often the highest input cost to any operation. Simplifying process, automation of tedious tasks, big data and AI, or RPA can all lead to massive gains in productivity.


Workers must constantly seek to find better ways to serve their customer. Whether internal customers or external, big or small, these innovations collectively will give you the best chance to succeed. Creating an innovation culture where appropriate risk can be rewarded is crucial.


The right tools, in the right place, at the right time. Beyond beautiful software, mobility, and delight, we must empower people to control their lives at work and have a great time doing it. This last principle ties everything together.


The latest software from SAP provides a platform to build the intelligent enterprise. But we must use this platform to make things remarkably better for the humans within it.

  1. Start looking holistically at your upcoming S/4HANA project, or if you are not yet there, look at your current SAP system and begin understanding your various personas across the dimensions I mentioned above.
  2. Identify highlights from these personas that engage in potentially high ROI activities and are great targets for Design Thinking.
  3. Take the time to conduct design thinking sessions with the goal of empowering these people across the four principles above. Consider using an SAP AppHaus Partner. ;)
  4. Make sure you have skilled SAP resources that have a high aptitude for learning the latest technology.
  5. Embrace Fiori, the newest SAP experience that puts humans at the center of design.
  6. Finally, make it happen quickly with agile development and DevOps practices in the cloud.


The focus on UX at SAP Sapphire has been increasing every year. First there was Fiori, then Design Thinking, Apple Partnerships, and now XData. As companies continue to innovate and take part in the experience economy, SAP is embracing design, and hopefully every SAP customer will do the same. If we are successful, we will not just build the Intelligent Enterprise, we will empower humans to be more agile, productive, innovative, and to create remarkable experiences.


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