Exploring SAP RISE: Benefits, Trade-Offs, and the Role of Joule


SAP RISE and Joule have emerged as two groundbreaking offerings, promising to reshape how organizations operate. However, they both brought to light some questions and considerations among the SAP community. What do you gain by embracing SAP RISE? What are the trade-offs? How does Joule fit into the equation?

In our recent exploration of RISE with SAP on our Tekitok Podcast last month, we discussed its intended market, the intricacies of planning and implementation, and its implications on IT operations.

As we continue to probe into the topic of RISE, we want to provide more perspective on its advantages and disadvantages, shedding light on the complexities and opportunities that SAP RISE offers. Moreover, we’ll look closer at Joule, an AI assistant embedded in SAP’s cloud enterprise portfolio, and its role in SAP's overall strategy to attract more customers to its cloud environment. 

What You Gain From SAP RISE

According to SAP, RISE with SAP offers cutting-edge features that empower organizations to thrive in the competitive business landscape.

  • Seamless Access Across Devices: SAP RISE provides rich, embedded business processes accessible from any device. This ensures that your workforce can engage with vital processes, regardless of location, enabling greater flexibility and operational efficiency.

  • Proactive Process Management: Using a single source of truth, SAP RISE allows organizations to manage and optimize processes proactively. This setup not only provides you transparency into your processes but also helps you identify individuals responsible for specific tasks and streamline accountability.

  • Real-time Performance Insights: Organizations can gain instant insights into their process performance, facilitating the identification and removal of bottlenecks.

  • Intelligent Recommendations: SAP RISE leverages data to provide valuable recommendations for continuous improvement.

  • Empowered Finance Teams: The platform equips Finance Teams with advanced capabilities to streamline financial consolidation, enabling smart planning and accelerating cash collections and dispute resolution. This translates to more efficient financial operations and improved cash flow for the business.

  • Enhanced Procurement and Invoice Efficiency: SAP RISE helps organizations increase their procurement and invoice efficiency while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. This results in cost savings and smoother procurement operations.

  • Global Connectivity: The platform enables organizations to access a global network of suppliers and buyers to promote seamless transactions, enhance business relationships, and diversify growth opportunities.

  • AI Integration: SAP RISE infuses artificial intelligence into every aspect of your business, from automating repetitive tasks to making data-driven predictions.

  • Robust Cloud Infrastructure: SAP RISE offers the invaluable benefit of SAP-managed cloud infrastructure. Leveraging one of the largest private cloud providers worldwide, organizations can rely on a stable and secure cloud environment to keep their operations running without disruptions.

What You Don’t Need Anymore With SAP RISE

SAP RISE eliminates the need for hosting or technical management of systems at the Operating System (OS) and Database (DB) level. You won't need facilities or infrastructure teams to oversee these components, and the traditional Basis team won't have access to the database, operating system (including filesystems/storage), or even the cloud layer, unlike on-premises or cloud IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) scenarios. SAP takes care of all this for you, although some optional services will cost extra.

It’s also important to note that while you lose responsibility for managing the underlying infrastructure of your SAP landscape, you still need to focus on the application level, including all business processes like jobs, interfaces, security, change management (transports), performance management, and data volume/capacity management. You should also plan and manage releases and upgrades, which SAP will execute on your behalf.

What Retains With SAP RISE

Even with SAP RISE, some things remain the same. You still need application support.

For example, if your purchase order fails, someone still needs to resolve it. This implies that your IT teams will still be critical in maintaining and improving application functionality. SAP provides a support package stack, but the configuration and adaptation of the functionality remain your responsibility.

The Trade-Off: Gaining Infinite Resources but Losing Control

One perspective on SAP RISE suggests that while you gain access to infinite resources for addressing service requests (SRs), it may not necessarily lead to a net benefit. It can introduce additional complexity and delays in services, as everything has to be explained in a ticket and then waited for within the RISE service level agreement (SLA).

Now, let’s backtrack and return to the notion that SAP manages the underlying infrastructure. From this perspective, there’s a lack of hands-on infrastructure management which goes without saying that you will lose some degree of control. This can potentially lead to architectural issues, especially when the infrastructure doesn’t scale effectively with the growing demands and the unique requirements of the business.

Another important consideration is that once you opt for SAP RISE, you commit to having SAP run your environment indefinitely. If, at any point, you become dissatisfied with their managed services, your only option is to purchase Bring Your Own License (BYOL) S/4 licenses and migrate to another cloud environment.

"It's also very important to emphasize that SAP's newest innovations and capabilities will only be delivered in SAP public cloud and SAP private cloud using RISE with SAP as the enabler."

— Christian Klein, CEO of SAP

In the SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) Q2 2023 Earnings Call, Christian highlighted that SAP will push forward with its cloud offerings, with RISE with SAP as its enabler. This entails the company de-emphasizing its on-premise software solutions despite enterprise customers still using them, which raised concerns among the SAP community, particularly a German user group called Deutschsprachige SAP-Anwendergruppe (DSAG), which called it a complete 180-degree turnaround from its previous statements.

"Those who have relied on S/4HANA on-premise so far will be left behind by SAP’s new strategy. Customers who have already invested in S/4HANA on-premise may now get the impression that they have wasted millions. That doesn’t build trust if SAP doesn’t show customers clear development paths for a smooth transition to the cloud and next-generation ERP without jeopardizing the investments they’ve made."

— Jens Hungershausen, Board Chairman of Deutschsprachige SAP-Anwendergruppe (DSAG)

Despite the uproar, the company stands its ground to continue pushing everyone to the cloud.

The Role of Joule in SAP’s Cloud Portfolio

Last September 26, 2023, SAP introduced Joule, an AI assistant that promises to be a game-changer for enterprise customers. Joule will be embedded throughout SAP’s cloud enterprise portfolio, delivering proactive and contextualized insights from various SAP solutions and third-party sources. By rapidly processing and contextualizing data from diverse systems, Joule empowers organizations to operate more efficiently, make data-driven decisions, and achieve superior business outcomes, all while upholding stringent security and compliance standards.

Joule is poised to revolutionize the way SAP users interact with the system. It introduces a paradigm shift where employees can engage with Joule as if conversing with a knowledgeable colleague. Queries and concerns can be posed in natural language, and Joule, drawing upon SAP systems and databases, promptly furnishes relevant and informative responses.

Joule's integration extends across critical facets of enterprise operations, encompassing HR, finance, procurement, supply chain, and customer experience applications. It effectively assumes the role of a knowledgeable companion within SAP's Business Technology Platform. Employees gain the ability to engage with Joule in natural language, be it in the form of questions or troubleshooting queries. Then, Joule draws from its company data bank and third-party sources to respond intelligently. This holistic integration ensures that Joule becomes an invaluable asset in supporting the decision-making processes of employees and improving overall business operations.

The Mandatory Leap: You Have to Be on SAP RISE

SAP delivers a clear message to its customers: You must be on SAP RISE to benefit from Generative AI. This reinforces the idea that SAP RISE is not just an optional upgrade but a mandatory step for organizations looking to leverage the full potential of Joule and SAP's advanced AI capabilities.

SAP RISE represents a transformative approach to managing your enterprise systems, for sure, yet introduces complexities that require careful evaluation of your organization’s specific needs and goals. These complexities encompass not only technical nuances but also organizational changes with comprehensive planning, adjustments to existing processes, and a thorough understanding of its impact on the business. Moreover, the introduction of Joule brings exciting possibilities for organizations looking to extract intelligent insights.

The successful implementation of SAP RISE depends on the readiness and acceptance of end users. The migration to SAP RISE is also a difficult path for large customers who may have many terabytes of data and complex interfaces, as SAP has not addressed how it can expedite this process while reducing risk and business downtimes. Adequate training and change management strategies will drive the familiarization of employees with the new platform and its integration with Joule. With the integration of Joule and AI capabilities, organizations must remain vigilant in upholding security and compliance standards. This includes safeguarding sensitive data, ensuring privacy regulations are adhered to, and continuously monitoring for potential vulnerabilities.

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