SAP has found a way to bring us all on the digital transformation journey

A wide angle shot of Thomas Saueressig, leader of SAP Product Engineering at SAP, live onstage at SAP Sapphire Barcelona 2024/
(Image credit: Future/Bobby Hellard)

As I leave SAP Sapphire 2024 in Barcelona, I have Concur on my mind. This is odd because the travel and expenses system didn’t get much attention at the conference and I also hate filling out expense forms. 

I don’t use Concur enough to commit any of the expensing process to memory – and I usually don’t bother to expense claims from the few international trips I go on each year. Instead, I tend to opt for the free stuff or search out the cheapest eats. Businesses have to tackle the same mentality, SAP seems to understand this and has centered the ease of use of its generative AI tool Joule at its summer conference. 

When I speak with SAP’s chief revenue officer, Scott Russell, he tells me that Joule has been developed for such a situation; to walk people through complicated online processes that they might not have much experience with. Like all Copilots, it will harness data from past use, offer prompts and suggestions, and help me through the whole thing in minutes.

While I was in Barcelona I got three tacos for €5 from Tacos Tacos – a superb Mexican popup in the El Poble-Sec neighborhood of the City. Will I expense that? Only if our IT team activates Joule. 

“An employee might only use an SAP service, like Concur, once or twice a year, they’re not going to be especially used to it – that’s the customer Joule can really transform,” Russell tells ITPro.


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‘Transform' is the keyword here. When you start a digital transformation, you also need to remember the people in your business and bring them along too. But if we take SAP as an example, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) and all the other types of software that it provides, there’s a lot of complexity. They’re very technical systems – most of the people using them will be of that mindset – and it creates a sort of digital inequality within the workforce. 

This is where AI can, and should, help. A large part of ITPro’s Sapphire coverage focused on new AI tools and how they might ultimately be used to entice legacy customers into the cloud. There are several reasons to believe this: there is still a subset of SAP customers using on prem, CEO Christian Klein talked at length about why the company wants its customers in the cloud, and Joule featured in almost all of its announcements. 

What Joule can do is truly transform a business, from the C-Suite down to the occasional users of an SAP system. WalkMe, the digital adoption platform (DAP) for accelerating digital transformation, is also key here – SAP announced it would acquire the firm on 5 June. Average users, who dip in and out of platforms with no guarantee of specialist knowledge, could use both tools to save valuable time. This only improves the efficiency and cost savings for a business. 

Scott Russell offers what could be the best way to look at it when he tells me that “customers are not actually asking about AI, what they’re actually asking is more specific – they want to know what tools and processes can help them do their jobs and succeed.”

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.