The big takeaways from SAP TechEd 2020

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SAP CTO Juergen Mueller’s TechEd keynote left us with plenty to chew upon. Here are the highlights with some preliminary analysis

SAP TechEd 2020- While the SAP SAPPHIRENow 2020 day 1 keynote session was a blooper, the SAP TechEd 2020 keynote was a success on multiple fronts.

First up, there were plenty of announcements to content the curious and keep the chattering classes, well, chattering. Second, SAP figured out how to reasonably balance recorded content with live sessions. Third, season SAP presenters were in good form and fluent in their approach. Fourth, Juergen Mueller, SAP’s CTO was in remarkably candid form. All of which served as a backdrop for well-delivered content. Was it all good? No. But I’ll get to the rough edges later. First up the announcements, which I am taking in the order that I believe is most important to SAP customers.

Appealing to a broad church of developer types

Early on in the keynote, Mueller observed that:

We are not yet a particularly developer friendly company…and we want to change that.

That’s a huge admission from a firm that prides itself on having a five million-strong developer community. That admission, which Mueller acknowledges centers around the complexity inherent in SAP systems, sets the tone for what SAP has to do to attract a new class of developers.

In the familiar SAP developer world, the emphasis has always been on ABAP as the development environment. I know there was a period when Java was on the rise in SAP shops but that has been firmly eclipsed by ABAP. But as customers start their ECC to S/4HANA migration journey, there is increasing noise about the lack of the S/4HANA resources needed to get customers over the migration line. At the UKISUG session last week, for example, Paul Cooper, UK&ISUG chair emphasized that its constituents were not just concerned about the lack of skills but also the cost of S/4 HANA skills in what is rapidly evolving into a classic supply and demand problem. Integral to those skills is ABAP and here, there is concern that those skills are not only diminishing in number but that it is increasingly difficult to attract budding developers to ABAP. In short, SAP is not seen as ‘cool.’

During an SAP TechEd pre-briefing session, we were told that ten percent of the total registrants for the event have never touched an SAP system. That’s a big number when you consider that SAP reported 60,000 TechEd registrations. But even if all those who expressed interest turn up, the potential fresh faces are a tiny fraction of what will be needed. UK&ISUG is encouraging a range of initiatives including apprenticeships. SAP’s UK operation is developing programs with its university network. These programs are designed to encourage young CS students to consider SAP technology as a pathway to a long-lasting and valuable career. I wanted SAP to articulate the top three reasons a rookie developer should consider ABAP. Mueller’s Tweeted response was:

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