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SAP Predictions for 2019 - Exciting trends at the cusp of a new decade

2018 was an eventful year for the SAP world. ERP (and therefore SAP) started figuring prominently in conversations around digital, S/4HANA strengthened its claim as the next-generation digital core, Leonardo evolved further especially in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and the launch of C/4HANA signaled SAP's intention to take on the CRM market head-on. The SAP market experienced a buoyancy probably not seen for more than a decade. As we enter the next year, many of us wonder what could shape the SAP market for this year. I expect these trends to carry forward in 2019 opening new frontiers:


The S/4HANA market will see more Greenfield implementations than conversion. Although large SAP clients still don't have a firm business case for a 3 to 5 years long Greenfield project, with the 2025 deadline looming, time is running out. I therefore expect clients to run pilot programs and push for Greenfield implementation in smaller markets/businesses, and keep the conversion option as a fallback for a later decision.


SAP will continue to push a cloud first approach this year as well. In order to accelerate S/4HANA on-cloud implementations and keeping in mind client's reluctance on public solutions, SAP will likely push create a hybrid offering of dedicated solutions bundled with some service components in collaboration with large cloud providers. We can look forward to some interesting moves on this front in partnership with large cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure and AWS.


Last year, SAP introduced C/4HANA, a strong offering in the front office CRM automation segment. In 2019, we can expect further strengthening of the solution with the help of AI/ML-driven use cases and the leveraging of new products acquired in this space. I would not be surprised to see a couple of big-ticket acquisitions as well.


Talking of Leonardo, although it is yet to establish itself as a core digital innovation platform, this year it is likely to see more adoption, especially of its AI/ML products. Service partners, on the back of attractive value propositions and flexible pricing offers from SAP, will look to leverage Leonardo more and more. We can hope to see some large impactful solutions built on top of the platform.


Data privacy and cyber security concerns will also play a big role in client spends in this space. With GDPR regulations in Europe and similar trends in other parts of the world, we are likely to see independent vendors offering niche solutions on top of SAP. It will create a new space for System Integrators to provide consulting and integration services at a large scale.


For SAP practitioners, 2019 will bring several opportunities to implement new solutions to address the digital transformation needs of their clients. It will be interesting to see how we take advantage of these.

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