Sapphire 2018 is imminent – SAP users and partners from all over the world will be flying to Orlando Florida to find out the latest on SAP’s direction. So, what are the key themes likely to be?

It almost goes without saying that “cloud” will be a dominant theme. Sapphire is the more business-focused of the SAP conferences, so expect a lot of focus on SAP’s ERP business applications. The S/4HANA public cloud ERP solution is rapidly maturing, and I presume will be heavily pushed with customer success stories and announcements.

Last year the SAP Cloud Platform got a huge announcement with the general availability of multi-cloud and its underpinning of SAP Leonardo.  I’m not expecting quite such a significant step for the SAP Cloud Platform this year – services and improvements are always being added, but it feels like SAP has set the key direction for the platform.

Mark Williment

Mark Williment

Head of Technology


For anyone going for the first time – the sheer scale of Sapphire is impressive. The vast show floor, the giant screens and the keynote is always worth watching to get a feel for the overall themes – and Bill McDermott is undeniably a charismatic speaker.

What should we expect from Sapphire 2018

Another word likely to regularly feature is innovation, the SAP Leonardo Innovation system was launched at Sapphire in 2017 – as a new product the focus was very much on what it is, this year I expect a lot on use cases for SAP Leonardo. If I had to guess “automation” will be a key theme of what SAP Leonardo can be used for, from machine learning to create more automated human interaction, to IoT creating feedback loops to automate a process.

Some recent SAP acquisitions have focused on front office sales – for example, Gigya for managing data in eCommerce, and Callidus for lead-to-cash management. These naturally complement the SAP Hybris suite of commerce and marketing products, so it will be interesting to see if there are announcements on how these products come together into a unified front office solution.

Sapphire is also a chance for SAP to address the area’s high on customers concern lists, GDPR and data privacy may get a mention, as may licensing costs. One of the big announcements of Sapphire 2017 was changes to pricing for indirect usage, often an area of concern for SAP customers.

There have also been other commercial innovations recently, for example, consumption-based pricing on the SAP Cloud Platform. This theme may continue, as SAP continues to move its commercial offerings from ones that worked for on-premise systems, to ones that suit cloud-based, highly interconnected systems.

For anyone going for the first time – the sheer scale of it is impressive. The vast show floor, the giant screens and the keynote is always worth watching to get a feel for the overall themes – and Bill McDermott is undeniably a charismatic speaker.

Several of my Keytree colleagues will be there – look them up for thoughts on the big announcements. I’m not there but will be catching the event via live stream – and will blog my thoughts on the most significant announcements in the near future.

Why won’t I be there? I’m heading to the opposite coast to Palo Alto on a SAP sponsored event to understand what’s driving innovation in the IT industry, another topic I’ll be blogging on shortly.