What We Learned at Sapphire 2023 

As an SAP partner, we went to this year’s Sapphire event, and here is what we learned about SAP’s large-scale adoption of AI and the making companies future-proof.

May 23, 2023 By Ivo Jurcic Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!

SAP BTP is home to over 400 000 clients and over 1500 partners.

And every year, thousands of SAP clients and partners gather at Sapphire to talk about the future of work. 

For many enterprises, SAP BTP is the brick-and-mortar of their business and joins together company data and analytics, automation, integration, and now, artificial intelligence. 

With this in mind, let’s talk about SAP’s role in future-proofing businesses.

SAP Business AI Will Make Companies Future-Proof

The past two years have been revolutionary in terms of AI development and its application on a grander scale. We’re only beginning to see what AI will do for businesses, and this year’s Sapphire certainly brought that future closer than ever as a central theme of the event. 

SAP has built responsible AI into its business solutions to change how people use them, aiming to increase productivity and automate end-to-end processes. 

Source: Sapphire 2023 Keynote

SAP has partnered with Google, Microsoft, IBM, and other leaders in AI to create an ecosystem of SAP Business AI that will support businesses to become more efficient than ever with Generative and Predictive AI. 

Predictive AI leverages machine learning and data analysis to predict and anticipate the future needs of SAP customers. By doing so, organizations have a clear line of sight into incoming trends and can predict risks and future-proof their organizations.

Pfizer, the premier pharmaceutical corporation that played a central role in combating the global Covid pandemic, used AI embedded in SAP ERP to predict product throughput and yield and deliver more doses to more patients.

The end-to-end platform approach combined Pfizer’s digital operations center, manufacturing intelligence platform, and SAP ERP. 

Source: Sapphire 2023 Keynote

The AI prediction algorithm yielded 20 000 more vaccine doses per batch. Overall, the use of AI was responsible for a 20% throughput increase, which equates to four billion produced vaccines in 2022, compared to three billion in 2021. 

Generative AI refers to using deep-learning models to generate high-quality content, such as images, or text, based on data they were trained on. The application of this advancement in human capital management practices is jaw-dropping. 

At the moment, more than 20 000 SAP application users already rely on embedded AI features that cover more than 130 different use case scenarios.

Skill shortage is one of, if not, the biggest workforce challenge of our time. It is the critical mission of Chief People Officers to solve skill gaps in their organization.

Addressing this complex challenge requires a sustainable combination of hiring, bringing in contingent workers to fill in short-term labor needs, and upskilling and reskilling employees so they can ensure long-term growth.

Together, SAP and Microsoft, one of the largest SuccessFactors users and an SAP partner, have developed generative AI features to connect SuccessFactors with the Microsoft 365 Copilot.

SAP demonstrated 3 different HCM use cases that generative can improve and streamline: recruiting, ongoing learning, and upskilling employees.

Last year alone, SuccessFactors processed over 6 million job applications.

SuccessFactors users can generate highly-relevant job descriptions and upload them directly in SuccessFactors. Generative AI empowers personalized learning paths by connecting Microsoft Viva.

Learning with SuccessFactors; employees that want to pick up new skills can leverage their company’s HR data to generate a company-recommended learning path.

Employees can create curating learning collections that they can return to and attain new skills. Their progress is automatically updated in SuccessFactors’ Growth Portfolio. 

Source: Sapphire 2023 Keynote

Managers and HR can access the growth portfolio and use AI to evaluate employee skills and find the best candidate for reskilling or upskilling. The solution directly supports creating internal labor markets, which is seen as an effective strategy to combat the ongoing skill shortage trend.

Additionally, companies can reduce employee turnover by rotating employees to different positions if they desire a different career path. Organizations able to develop their internal labor markets become more resilient to turnover and workforce challenges, as long as they have the right employee-learning capabilities.

The implications of an AI-backed approach to cultivating employee skills are astonishing.  

Employee Re-skilling Will Lead the Charge 

At Semos Cloud, we work with enterprises that rely on large deskless and blue-collar workforces.

The blue-collar labor market has gone through tectonic changes since the 2000s.

After the 2008 recession, the skills deficit became critical and the number of U.S. blue-collar workers fell from 24.6 million (in 2000) to 17.8 million in 2010.

Currently, there are about 19.6 million blue-collar employees in the US, according to the most recent data from CEPR

It goes without saying that seasoned blue-collar workers are retiring en masse.

For example, the construction sector has already been struggling with this problem for years. According to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, approximately 41% of the current US construction workforce, including employees working in managerial and support roles, will retire by 2031.

Re-skilling will pray a central role in helping seasoned employees stay in their companies, assume mentoring positions and transfer valuable knowledge and experience.

By doing so, they can actively contribute to diminishing the skills gap and creating a more skilled workforce.

The same could be said for many different industries, especially manufacturing. 

Our Part in Creating Future-proof Companies 

In order to make companies future-proof, it’s central that organizations treat understanding and cultivating workforce skills as strategic imperatives.

Sapphire gave everyone a glimpse into what AI can do to support re-skilling and organizational learning.

The best-of-breed skills solutions that complement SuccessFactors and are built on SAP BTP will pave the way for internal labor markets in established enterprises and global companies.

We’re proud to say our employee skills & growth platform Skills is the first talent intelligence solution built on SAP BTP. 

Skills leverages AI and machine learning to process over 33 000 hard skills and over 90 soft skills, including 20 top-rated skills, such as communication, creative thinking, and the ability to exchange insightful and constructive feedback.

Depending on their assigned role, users can access skills analytics and evaluate the hard and soft skills of individual employees.

Administrators have access to the Skills Index Graph that reveals the skills level of individual employees, teams, and departments. When a skill is confirmed, employees receive badges that can be reposted on social media and encourage others to share their skills and recognize the learning efforts of other coworkers.

Our Skills platform helps organizations build a skill taxonomy and be best prepared for skill-related challenges of the future. 

Final Thoughts

Every year, SAP shares its breakthrough announcements on Sapphire and shows how its technology is helping customers transform their business models and move into the cloud.

It’s absolutely inspiring to see the momentum they’ve achieved over the past few years amid ongoing change.

Looking ahead, the integration of generative and predictive AI into the SAP Portfolio processes will continue to shape the future of work. As organizations embrace AI as a new engine of growth, they will unlock new possibilities, redefine job roles, and create a workforce that is agile, adaptable, and resilient.

As a trusted SAP Partner, we will continue to help enterprises transform their culture and solve complex workforce challenges standing in the way of their growth.