SAP Sapphire 2024 Takeways: Generative AI Takes Center Stage

The 2024 SAP Sapphire conference might instead have been called “SAP and Generative AI.” The prevailing theme of this year’s conference was AI and – as SAP CEO Christian Kein declared at the kickoff – its “endless possibilities.” 

Klein and his SAP team touted partnerships with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google Cloud, and talked about how such partnerships will extend generative AI capabilities for business users. 

The conference AI announcements and partnerships, Klein said, build on SAP’s commitment “to deliver revolutionary technology that drives real-world results, helping customers unleash the agility and ingenuity they need to succeed in today’s fast-moving business landscape.”

Mustansir Saifuddin standing with three other attendees.
Mustansir Saifuddin, Innovative Solution Partners co-founder (second from left), with three other Sapphire attendees and ASUG volunteers, Anupam Jaiswal, Julea Ferrara and DeVario Voltz.

Many of our clients and other SAP customers have taken notice of the heightened emphasis that SAP is putting on AI at every level, and how its leadership is reflecting that emphasis. “It was refreshing to hear from SAP’s new executive board member of SAP product engineering, Muhammad Alam, bringing in fresh perspective to the next-gen evolution of their core products,” writes senior analyst Akshara Naik Lopez in a Sapphire takeaways blog for Forrester.

Innovative Solution Partners co-founder Mustansir Saifuddin spent two days immersed in the sessions and discussions at Sapphire, and came away with his own takeaways. 

“From the keynote from Christian Klein to the breakout sessions, there was something for everyone,” said Saifuddin. “Key to me was the discussions around data governance. Everyone talks about it, but what does it mean as you and your team navigate the changing data landscape that brings AI to the forefront.”

Specifically worth a mention, said Saifuddin,  were sessions around SAP Datasphere, SAP Integrated Planning and Business Technology Platform.

Among top themes at the conference: 

‘Joule is ready for prime time’

SAP’s Klein announced plans to expand SAP’s generative AI copilot Joule’s capabilities across the company’s suite of cloud solutions, promising that “it will be embedded out of the box for all our cloud customers.” Anticipating that 300 million SAP users will be using Joule by year’s end, Klein cited more than 50 “embedded use cases” for pretrained AI applications within the SAP suite. By expanding Joule’s capabilities across the company’s suite of cloud solutions, it is turning the copilot into its main interface across cloud applications powered by SAP Business Technology Platform.

Joule will feature “deep, bi-directional integration” with Microsoft Copilot, enabling access to information from interactions with SAP and Microsoft 365 business applications. SAP AI Core will also become available on Microsoft Azure.

Amazon, Microsoft partnerships

In announcing expanded partnerships with Amazon and Microsoft, Klein and Matt Garman, CEO of Amazon Web Services, discussed their vision of AI for shared customers. Amazon Bedrock, a service for building generative AI applications, will be integrated with SAP BTP’s generative AI hub, Garman announced. This will allow customers access to AI models to accelerate the creation of customized AI use cases.

SAP further announced that it will also integrate Google Cloud’s Gemini and its Cortex Framework’s data foundation with Joule and SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain. It also will leverage Meta’s Llama AI model to support customized analytics applications.

Expanding RISE and GROW

SAP will assign all current and future RISE with SAP customers an enterprise architect to guide their cloud transformations, in addition to providing an integrated tool chain.

Klein said these resources will provide customers with a “guide to implementation” and help more than 6,000 current RISE customers leverage the methodology to move to the cloud.

Commitment to Responsible AI

SAP is committing to the 10 guiding principles of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, which has a goal of ensuring that AI technologies are developed in ways that promote fairness and sustainability, and with respect to human rights

Missing in Action: Sustainability

Last year’s Sapphire conference was all about sustainability; it was noticeably missing at this year’s event. According to analyst Lopez, who wrote about this in her takeaways blog in Forrester, SAP says that while there was global momentum on sustainability last year, there has been no demand in the last four months. Parts of the world — like the EU — are seeing strong demand due to strict regulations and a sense of responsibility; other parts of the world are not.

More information and resources

Complete SAP Saphire Coverage: The News Guide breaks down all the announcements by category, and gives both detail and additional resources. 

Here’s the full opening keynote from SAP CEO Christian Klein.

SAP Business Technology Platform: The enhancements and improvements announced at the conference to SAP’s BTP.

SAP Business AI: This is what took center stage at the conference; here are the various integrations and announcements made throughout the event.

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Mariyah Saifuddin