How BTP is Transforming Enterprise
Meet the Authors
⇨ Businesses need to be able to customize their processes.
⇨ Using low-code solutions, businesses can deploy projects in months instead of years.
⇨ To enhance BTP utilization, SAP’s discovery center uses case-based processes that customers can apply to their own enterprise.
SAPinsider sat down with Dan Lahl, SAP’s Global Vice President of Marketing and Solutions, to discuss SAP’s business technology platform and its capabilities to transform businesses.
Q: SAP BTP is something everyone wants to know about. What is it?
SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) is a cloud platform composed of a number of technologies—automation, application development, integration, data management, database, analytics, and AI. But at the end of the day, SAP BTP serves business purposes and outcomes. That’s really how we have to view SAP BTP. First and foremost, it serves businesses.
Q: What is driving adoption of SAP BTP?
Customers are looking at many ways they can innovate with SAP BTP on top of their line-of-business (LOB) applications. There’s a customer in Europe called Villeroy & Boch that has been a classic ERP S/4HANA customer for many years. It needed to figure out how it could digitize its invoice approval process. You might say, “Okay, that should be pretty simple,” but Villeroy & Boch had a manual invoice approval process.
So the company built an application using components of SAP BTP, an automation product as well as an AI product to extract information from Villeroy & Boch invoices in order to understand what was contained in the invoice, add an approval process for high-value invoices, and then remit the invoice back into the ERP system for invoice payment. With SAP BTP, the company was able to automatically process 91 percent of the emails that dealt with invoice approvals, which saved a massive number of hours just on that one project.
Q: What makes SAP BTP so special, and how has it evolved?
I think a key differentiator for SAP BTP is that it gives customers an agile way to innovate. I think customers are looking to innovate, and they’re innovating with S4 and other SAP applications. But what we’ve seen time and time again with Business Technology Platform is they’re innovating in an iterative and agile way.
A good example is DHL. It wanted to mobilize all its field drivers. Instead of cranking out a huge application project that would have taken a year to 18 months to build, it chose a low-code tool called SAP AppGyver and was able to build it in two months and deploy it to its field drivers in one more month. It was a massive way for them to optimize the logistics and the routes the drivers were going on, as well as confirm that the drivers were delivering the packages they said they were delivering. It was low-code and no-code and delivered in just a couple of months.
Q: What do you need to run SAP BTP? Can you be an ECC or S4 customer? Can you be a non-SAP customer?
The main target for SAP BTP is SAP customers, so we have built SAP BTP again not to be generic but to service all SAP LOB applications. We’ve done that by providing a massive amount of content into the system and a massive amount of connectivity from an integration standpoint so it’s much more quick and agile in order to enhance those SAP LOB applications.
I like to call it our PaaS for SaaS strategy. A lot of hyperscalers build their platform services just to turn on the lights in their infrastructures or IaaS layers. We built SAP BTP to service applications, plain and simple. From thousands of APIs that can connect to any SAP or non-SAP system to live processes for opening up workflows and knowing the contents, to data warehousing templates and industry standards, to industry dashboards being delivered through SAP analytics cloud, we are working really hard to tie SAP BTP to those LOB applications. I believe in my heart of hearts that nobody can do that better than SAP.
Q: How would you recommend that customers look at this tool and start to build some business cases and first-use cases for a technology like this?
Another way SAP BTP is different from the hyperscalers is that we look at business use cases first versus an arms race of technology services. We always go to our customers and say, “How can we help you define a project that will differentiate your business and make you more successful?”
Another really good example is a small horse dressage company called Black Horse One. It built an application where the judges who are judging the dressage competitions are now given an iPad for their scoring. They’re not given a piece of paper; they’re given an iPad and score all the dressage competitions right there in real time. Then the scores are sent directly to the scoring system where all the dressage judges’ scores are captured and processed, and the scores from first to worst can be calculated automatically in a matter of seconds. The scoring that used to take a long time to collect and add up has improved dramatically. That’s one of the first innovations it delivered. That was the company’s first project.
The second Black Horse One project was around this question: “What can we do now that we have all this data about the scoring of many competitions and how the judging is happening?” The company is now encouraging the people who are interested in dressage to post YouTube videos. Judges will judge the dressage, the YouTube poster can get a scoring across all judges, and then the judge can give feedback directly to the dressage competitor in this application. That not only helps the users but also the judges because they’re looking at how other judges are judging the dressage competition as well as possibly seeing things that other judges are seeing.
Black Horse One is doing massive amounts of innovation one project at a time based on how it can innovate and build a better business model for its judges and competitors. It’s doing this by using SAP BTP. You can find Black Horse One and more long-form customer interviews at SAP’s Better Together Customer Conversation Series.
Q: How should customers prepare for this? Are there any skills, education, or other things they should do?
One thing I love about SAP with regard to helping our customers understand and discover how to use SAP BTP and how to apply it in their businesses is that there are many ways for customers to get involved with SAP BTP.
We have a specific SAP BTP community on community.SAP.com. We have specific SAP BTP learnings on learning.SAP.com. We have specific help documentation for SAP BTP on help.SAP.com. We also have something called the SAP Discovery Center. It is a use-case-based website where we’ve actually taken customer use cases such as the Villeroy & Boch example of invoice processing and automated it. We allow customers to then implement that use case themselves.
You can go through and build an application in about two to three hours to do document extraction and automated invoicing, all with our Free Tier services. I encourage our customers and developers of all stripes to go to the SAP Discovery Center.