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SAP to refocus on AI and RPA automation

by Olivier Bouzereau

On October 6-7 the USF convention was held in Lille. With 1,410 unique visitors, 6 conferences, 70 workshops and 95 exhibitors, the 2021 USF convention was sold out, practically at the level of a pre-pandemic edition. Above all, it enabled users and the SAP ecosystem to conduct constructive discussions with this European software vendor.

“The world has changed with the health crisis, SAP too, especially since the recent acquisitions of Recast.ai (chatbots) , Contextor (RPA), Callidus Software (HR), Qualtrics and Emarsys (customer experience management), ” underlines Gianmaria Perancin, president of the professional association of French-speaking users of SAP solutions and, at EDF, director of the SAP Utilities skills. He sees this accelerated external growth as a refocusing on AI and automation to make ERP processes more efficient.

Preventive maintenance use case

Manufacturers are increasingly interested in the SAP software portfolio to optimize their robotic processes: “In monitoring the components of a production chain and to improve maintenance using sensors and connected objects, a increasing amount of wear data is fed back to the SAP system. This helps trigger the change of a part before it breaks down and causes a chain reaction, “he illustrates.

The use cases are multiplying, including the return of Saint-Gobain to the business by design solution in SaaS mode. The president of the USF nevertheless recommends that manufacturers remain vigilant on the legal aspects of the contract with the German publisher. Indeed, in the field of IoT, the data of sensors as such is not considered in direct access, but when it triggers a maintenance operation, it can be the subject of a request for royalties.


There are not yet enough consultants capable of supporting industrial and management projects in the cloud, Gianmaria Perancin also regrets. This will not last, because SAP is launching the recruitment of 3,000 consultants and plans to retrain 2,000 other functional consultants. These new skills will focus on supporting projects in the field, with the customer success team ensuring that companies get the most value from the solutions put in place.

With the help of its partners, SAP France intends to gain a thousand new consultants per year. A roadmap that the USF will check carefully, because companies in France are counting on this support to modernize their production or to get into cloud / edge computing more calmly.

A hybrid platform to modernize its businesses

“The Business Transformation Platform also aims to be able to combine the S4 Hana solution in the cloud with low code / no code type automation developments. I don’t see a panic race to migrate to the cloud. Half of SAP customers have already made the switch and the other half are still running an on-premise software package; it is still waiting for lighting and support. S4 Hana is a migration or a new adoption to generate more margin? In times of fiscal restraint, migration is considered, but not at any cost, “observes Gianmaria Perancin.

According to him, the retail sector remains very divided, with strong reluctance to place personal data of customers in the cloud of AWS (Amazon Web Services). Questions of regulatory compliance, data governance in the cloud, sovereignty in the context of the emergence of Gaia-X and reversibility inevitably lead to the criteria for choosing cloud providers and the negotiation of contractual service clauses.


“At USF, we like to tell SAP managers frankly what is going well and what is not. This year, our discussions have been rather easy, with a good spirit of listening and building. We benefit from a good alignment of the planets with the arrival in 2018 of Gérald Karsenti as CEO of SAP France, Frédéric Chauvire in 2020 as CEO France and Christian Klein, who became CEO of SAP in 2019. They demonstrate a attentive listening to user clubs and a desire to get as close as possible to what the community feels. “

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