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Sapphire Now 2018 - the don’t be creepy keynote

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy June 4, 2018
A competent keynote with few slip ups but no real depth and no real surprises.

Bill McDermott, CEO SAP

As I said in my preview report, Bill McDermott’s keynote was an opportunity to get in front of certain issues while demonstrating a clear path forward for ALL customers. What did we get?

No major surprises but an energised Bill McDermott, CEO SAP looking every part the guy who took crowd wrangler classes from Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce. McDermott was joined by executives who didn’t look totally comfortable with that style of presentation but who got the integrated portfolio solution message across in a coherent manner.

As expected McDermott announced C/4HANA, SAP’s next generation CRM, designed to emphasise a trusted relationship between the customer and business. From a product perspective, these include the acquired Hybris, Gigya and Callidus Cloud along with the announced acquisition of CoreSystems. Taken together, these cover consumer data, marketing, commerce, sales and customer services.

Quote of the morning (for me at least) came from Alex Atzberger who described the future of relationships as ones where ‘Don’t be creepy’ is writ large. That is spot on for a world where giants that normally dominate today’s tech news cycle like Facebook, have suddenly appeared to be VERY creepy. Couple that with a GDPR friendly message that’s demonstrated throught software and you have a story that resonates to the idea of trust.

Quite how it all comes together is a different story.

Bernd Leukert and Rob Enslin did a competent if slightly fake looking conversation, switching between technical topics like data management and, again, the much anticipated ‘data management as a service’ along with functional topics like workforce and lead to cash.

Enslin was keen to ensure the audience wasn’t left wondering what’s happening as was the case last year. He showed a roadmap (see below) with details of what’s coming when through 2020.

Via dah
Product roadmap

I liked this because for once, SAP showed commitment over a timeline that is not so far into the future that buyers can readily forget about it.


SAP showcased S/4HANA at doTerra, a company that specialises in essential oils and cosmetics but with a mission in mind. This played well to McDermott’s ‘purposeful’ story although Holger Mueller wasn’t convinced this was what the majority audience wanted to hear. I was more concerned about the lack of detail in the on stage discussion.

My take

Like many keynotes, this one was light on detail but that can be picked up in the sessions. My main concern is that talk of data management and integration, while essential to an expansive vision is not something with which SAP has a great track record. Anyone who’s been around for a while remembers NetWeaver and how that didn’t really work out.

Taking on Salesforce may seem a noble objective When expressed in terms of a 21st century way of doing business. But we should remember that at one time SAP held the number one spot for CRM as was then defined before SAP took its eye off the ball and let Salesforce sail past it. I doubt though that too many audience participants were ‘rooting for SAP’ as McDermott would like to believe.




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