SAP Sapphire Barcelona: Bring out your Best

sapphire barcelona

At SAP Sapphire Barcelona the theme was clear: “bring out your best.” But here’s the catch – if you aren’t moving to the cloud your access to AI will be limited, and without AI you can’t be your best.

But isn’t cloud an old story? Throughout 2024, it has become evident that AI requires the processing capabilities of a cloud environment, and those who questioned the necessity of the cloud can’t deny that AI is the future.

With so many companies accelerating their cloud plans, the real question becomes – now what? How can businesses ‘bring out the best’ in their cloud transformations and in their newfound innovations?

But first, during this European-flavored version of Sapphire after the Orlando event the previous week, AI certainly took center stage with several announcements of new innovations and collaborations between SAP and leading EMEA/UK brands to drive automated innovation. Let’s dive in.

SAP’s taps

The name of the game is business AI.

At SAP Sapphire Barcelona, one of the big reveals was SAP’s GenAI copilot, Joule, teaming up with Microsoft’s Copilot for Microsoft 365. This combination aims to make life easier for users by seamlessly integrating SAP and Microsoft 365 apps. A dream come true for the Teams fan.

Scheduled to kick off later this year, this integration will blend SAP’s enterprise data with Microsoft 365’s contextual knowledge from Teams, Outlook and Word, to allow for richer insights and enhanced decision-making capabilities.

What does this mean for users? Christian Klein, CEO, SAP, explained: “This two-way integration is the only one so deep that no matter which co-pilot you’re going to use, it’s one experience.”

On day two of the event, Muhammad Alam, member of the Executive Board of SAP and head of SAP Product Engineering said of this team-up: “Unlocking the massive potential AI has to offer requires capabilities that are high value, reliable and available in-context in the applications that people use today.”

Continuing on its mission to simplify workflows, SAP then discussed its intention to acquire WalkMe, a top-tier provider of digital adoption platforms (DAPs). WalkMe’s solutions are designed to streamline operations by offering sophisticated guidance and automation, ensuring smooth execution of workflows across various applications. This not only boosts adoption rates but also enhances the overall value derived from IT investments.

The acquisition, valued at around $1.5 billion, is anticipated to finalize in the third quarter of 2024, pending regulatory approvals and approval from WalkMe shareholders.

“Applications, processes, data and people are the four key elements of a successful business transformation,” said Klein. “By acquiring WalkMe, we are doubling down on the support we provide our end users, helping them to quickly adopt new solutions and features to get the maximum value out of their IT investments.”

In another step forward on the AI train, SAP has entered into a partnership with Mistral AI, a pioneer in LLMs. This collaboration will integrate Mistral AI’s advanced models with SAP’s suite of AI-enabled solutions, providing direct access through SAP BTP.

By integrating Mistral AI’s advanced models directly into SAP BTP, users gain unprecedented access to state-of-the-art AI functionalities. This means enhanced productivity, streamlined operations and the ability to leverage sophisticated AI-driven insights right within SAP applications.

As this was the EMEA Sapphire event, Klein made sure to explain why this decision is of particular interest to European-based companies: “Mistral AI will be available via our generative AI app to all our customers globally. Even better, together we will also ensure that business AI will also be available in an end-to-end sovereign cloud in Europe. This is because we know it is of high importance for many customers, especially in regulated industries, that their mission critical data will reside and be managed in Europe. Welcome Mistral AI to the SAP family.”

Whether through integrating AI with SAP BTP or developing bespoke solutions through direct access to Mistral AI LLMs, the potential for innovation seems limitless.

Philipp Herzig, chief AI officer (a newly added role known as the CAIO) of SAP, said: “We are excited about entering a partnership with Mistral AI and making the company’s LLM accessible to both our developers and our customers through the generative AI hub in SAP AI Core on SAP BTP.”

“Together, we can truly make a difference by building AI-enabled solutions that create immediate value for users, organizations, and entire industries. We are particularly proud that two European technology companies are collaborating on bringing AI forward.”

SAP and NVIDIA have unveiled new generative AI efforts, featuring NVIDIA AI Enterprise software to enhance SAP’s generative AI copilot, Joule. This includes new capabilities and ABAP Developer capabilities, designed to streamline workflows and improve productivity.

NVIDIA’s AI technology will be integrated into SAP’s Intelligent Product Recommendation solution, allowing salespeople to visualize 3D product digital twins directly within SAP, enhancing efficiency and safety.

At the event, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang commented: “We’ve created some amazing generative APIs that understand the language of SAP, supply chains, and ERP systems, allowing us to manage our business effectively.”

Reflecting the growing importance of ethical AI that many users had questions about, SAP has adopted the 10 guiding principles of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, committing to the development and use of AI technologies that respect human rights, promote fairness and contribute to sustainable development.

From the GenAI and Microsoft Copilot collaboration, the acquisition of WalkMe for enhanced digital adoption and partnerships with Mistral AI and NVIDIA to bolster AI capabilities within SAP’s platform, the event attempted to hone in on the one thing that everyone is asking after their cloud journey has come to a head.

Now what?

SAP Sapphire Barcelona comes at a critical moment in enterprise technology, whether you’re an organization still on SAP ECC and contemplating the jump, deep in your cloud journey already or trying to figure out how to capitalize on your newly minted AI innovations – the moment is not a matter of if these innovations will change the business world, it’s a matter of how fast – and will you be able to keep up?