BRO-IBM Global Business Services-April2021

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How IBM is evolving

its unique partnership

with SAP



is evolving its



with SAP

Example of

an image caption

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IBM’s SAP Practice is dedicated to

the evolution of both companies and

their joint strategy to drive the next

generation of business processes

SAP wasn’t always the technology

giant it is today and was originally

founded by five engineers who left

IBM to start the company. IBM Global SAP

Practice leader Matt Schwartz remembers

joining SAP in 2004, when it had fewer than

10,000 people in North America. “It was a

much smaller, more intimate organization,”

Schwartz recalls. “I pretty much knew every

SAP consultant but it is a much different

situation now.”

The growth of SAP has been exponential

and fueled by a number of acquisitions which

has created a new level of complexity. “It

was easier to sell, consume and understand

what SAP was at that time,” Schwartz admits.

The company, its customer base and its

product offerings have expanded. “I’d say

the biggest change is that it was very easy

to understand what SAP stood for 20 years

ago. It was an integrated ERP system. It was

one application and now it’s a multitude of

applications – it’s an ecosystem. SAP calls

it an Intelligent Enterprise. We believe the

value now is connecting those Enterprise

applications and adding intelligence to them

through intelligent workflows.”

SAP rising

Do smaller, nimbler companies offering

cloud native software solutions pose a threat

to monoliths like SAP? “Its Déjà vu all over

again, right?” Schwartz replies with a grin.

“If you look back 20 years companies were

buying SAP for finance and supply chain

while others purchased a combo of SAP and

best of breed capabilities in Supply Chain

like i2 and Manugistics, PeopleSoft for HR

and Ariba for procurement. You had clients

that went with best-of-the-breed solutions

and had SAP for their digital core back

then, and this continues to happen today

even with the newer SaaS solutions in the

market. SAP has reached an understanding

that customers will continue to make these

choices and the power is in seamlessly linking

these applications through capabilities in their

Business Technology Platform underpinned

by the capabilities of the cloud providers.

“Our ability to help clients

understand the business

case for change, the value

of the transformation and

how SAP can help them

drive that transformation,

helps SAP achieve all

their goals”



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Matthew Schwartz talks about

IBM's Digital Transformation

The real shift, Schwartz thinks, is in the

way we think about integrating and building

the next generation of SAP solutions.

Architecting intelligent workflows means

leveraging improved API integration

capabilities, infusing intelligence with AI

and machine learning algorithms. While

delivering an outcome with business

process management orchestration and

continuous business process improvement

mining. This is a new way of thinking for both

our customers and even our consultants.

It represents the way we need to move

“Sustainability has become

a key driver in commercial

decision-making, and

software plays its part”



to ensure we are building cloud enabled

solutions for the future while allowing

customers to fully leverage their best of

breed solutions as part of their end-to-end

processes. This approach with S/4HANA as

the digital core provides the ability to define

and deliver the business case our customers

require to drive their digital transformations.

Partnership depth

The IBM-SAP partnership started at the

founding of SAP and remains as the longest,

strongest partnership in the ecosystem.

What keeps that relationship strong?

“At the core of our partnership is our

shared goal of satisfied clients,” Schwartz

explains. “Satisfied clients want to buy

additional applications from SAP and more

implementation services from IBM. Success

stories help both SAP and IBM to gain new

customers and satisfied customers are also

willing to speak to others about their success

providing more opportunity to IBM and SAP.

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Given IBM’s track record in the SAP business

with over 6,700 projects delivered, SAP feels

comfortable making commitments to their

customers about IBM’s ability to deliver the

business outcomes enabled by SAP. IBM’s

ability to deliver on time, on budget with

realized value for joint customers continues

to fuel the strong growth of the partnership.

“From a sales perspective, our ability

to partner with the SAP field has always

been enabled by our support helping the

C-suite, the board and the shareholders of

an organization understand the value they're

going to get from SAP.” When working

with IBM, our joint customers understand

the business case for change, the value of

the transformation and how the different

SAP applications can help them drive that

transformation, as well as the return on

investment they can expect. This helps SAP

achieve their goals and this shared mission

creates a level of trust in the partnership.

ERP sustainability

What happens next in SAP’s journey?

According to Schwartz, it’s already happening.

“Sustainability has become and as policies

change will continue to be a key driver in

commercial decision-making and software

plays a part.” The ability to properly account

for carbon impact and to manufacture and





Matt Schwartz is firmly from the

management consulting side of

the industry, starting out at Andersen

Consulting (now Accenture), first on the

coding side, then with SAP practice in the

mid-late ‘90s. He went on to work in the

Price Waterhouse (now PwC) SAP practice.

With the dot-com boom in full swing, he

joined a couple of start-ups before joining

SAP in 2004, where he would spend almost

a decade. “I figured if I was going to be in

the SAP ecosystem, why not join them?”

Schwartz says. He followed SAP with a

stint at IBM, then another management

consultancy stint, this time at EY (again

in the SAP practice). Four years ago, the

call came from IBM to return to the fold.

Schwartz came back on board to run the

North America SAP practice, doubling

business in a short

period of time,

before stepping up

to his global role.


Year Founded


Revenue 2020


Number of employees







Garrick Keatts is an IBM lifer,

starting out at the firm straight

from college as a supply chain

consultant in the SAP practice. His

work has taken him around the world

in international markets (visiting 60-70

different countries), but always flying

the flag for IBM and SAP’s unique

partnership. He returned to the US

to focus on SAP HANA before taking

on the North America SAP practice

leader role in May 2020. “I think what's

interesting to me in that time period

is what's changed and what hasn't. If I

think back 16 years ago, so much of our

work with our clients on the SAP front

was about getting them transacting

capability and allowing them to do that

at scale with efficiency. Fast forward

to today, so much of the priority with

our clients is really more about insights

and giving them a more granular

level of insights at a quicker pace that

they can use to make better

business decisions.

What hasn't

changed is the fact

it's still so much of

our work is around

giving our clients

efficient transacting

in platforms to drive

their business

and their



market sustainable products will take on a

new level of importance for organizations.

Looking for ways to lower the carbon

footprint, increase the profitability of

products while having a positive impact

on the environment will become front and

center. IBM and SAP are working together

to combine their solutions and expertise to

respond to this market demand supported

by IBM’s work on the World Business Council

for Sustainable Development. This capability

is what organizations and shareholders

are looking for and as a consumer, that's

also what I want. It's about organizations

working with IBM Global Business Services

and SAP to leverage the technology to

facilitate the changes required by the

environmental agenda.

Garrick Keatts took over from Schwartz at

the top of America's SAP practice in 2020.

He thinks IBM’s SAP proposition is unique.

“When you look at IBM's core fundamental

offerings of what we can do for clients to

help guide them and what that journey

“There's not a partner

out there that has

the offerings to do

the strategy, work,

the implementation,

the run from an

application and

an infrastructure





Garrick Keatts talks about IBM's SAP practice

in the Americas

should look like, actually implement it for

them and get them to that state of utopia

that they seek,” he says. “And even from a

business perspective to be able to manage

that both at an application and from an

infrastructure perspective, we're very unique

in the SAP partner ecosystem that we can

do all of those things. There's not a partner out

there that has the offerings to do the strategy,

work, the implementation, the run from an

application and an infrastructure perspective.”

Keatts is obsessed with data cleanliness,

and suggests that in the past data was moved

around to the extent that it was effectively

massaged before reaching decision makers.

“Today, the business user is seeing that data in

its raw state in an instantaneous fashion. We

know getting that data into these environments

in a very clean and continuously governed

state is critical for business operations and

program success. It’s incredibly important for

both the expectations and the outcomes the

business desires, and to see successful delivery

of projects.

Truth in data

“There’s less appetite from business users

to be held from the truth today than ever.

They want to understand where the issues

are. They want to get to them quickly, and

they want to be able to identify those issues

before they become a major problem. They

want the opportunity to fix them in flight

versus having to initiate some sort of project

1, 3 or 12 months later.”

IBM was awarded the SAP North

America Award for Partner Excellence for

2021. For someone who has spent his entire

career in the orbit of IBM and SAP, Keatts has

a granular understanding of the partnership.

He sums it up as “alignment of objectives”.

“We’re both about helping our clients be

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“Digital transformation

hasn’t simply appeared.

It’s been evolving for

a long period of time”



Allan Coulter talks about

Enterprise IT within IBM

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Allan Coulter has been with IBM

for 23 years. Having started out

as an accountant (“incredibly boring”),

he was given the opportunity after

graduating from University to dabble

in financial software programming

– the company he worked for then

started an SAP program….from here he

joined PwC then IBM in the SAP Service

Line.…”I starting off as a Finance Process

Consultant then I got involved in some

of the new technologies when they

first came out, the likes of SAP Business

Warehouse, SAP Portal and the likes…..I

was always the person that was invited to

check out the new stuff…. I was interested

in how things worked, so I got involved in

what was then called Basis…I combined

all of this when certifying in Enterprise

Architecture. I actually ended up with a

really good balance of process skills and

technical skills. I think this has ended up

being crucial in the role

I have now, as I get to

see how technology

is best applied to

improve the way our

customers deliver

their processes….”


more successful in their business operations.

When we're both on that mission path, it

creates a lot of complimentary synergies and

it doesn't create much conflict. That's why

the relationship has been so strong for so long

and will continue to be.

“When you look at what SAP is taking to

its clients, IBM has to support that with the

business strategy up front around business

transformation. We have the ability to

execute on every migration option that’s

out there for our clients from ECC to S/4

HANA. And we have the ability to run that

infrastructure platform using the most

proven technology that has ever run SAP

on the IBM Cloud. That aligns us, and

lines us up very nicely to continue to be

successful together.”

Allan Coulter, CTO for the SAP Practice, has

also been with IBM for over 20 years. He has

witnessed the evolution of SAP from a single-

ERP solution to one that has evolved over time

to a software stack that underpins the Digital

Transformation ambitions of IBM’s customers.

“However Digital transformation hasn’t

simply appeared. It’s been evolving for a long

period of time. Even 10 years ago, we had

clients that started to infuse automation into

the way we were building out the processes…..

what we are delivering today is the next

iteration, what we call the Intelligent Enterprise.

For me, it’s really as simple as making SAP

simpler, smarter and more connected to the

rest of the application portfolio using a set of

new technologies from IBM and SAP.

Truly a partnership

For Coulter, the relationship between IBM

and SAP is “truly a partnership”. “We know

the strength that each party brings to the

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table. We’ve been a partner of SAP for over

40 years, but it is constantly evolving… a great

example of this is the ‘Evolution Partnership’

we signed last year with SAP that is how

we collaborate on taking the Intelligent

Enterprise story to the market.

The partnership is really about how to

accelerate that ambition level….“How do

we use the new technology solutions from

SAP, the likes of Data, AI, Automation, IoT

combined with the core ERP system to

create new outcomes for our customers.

When you combine SAP and IBM

technology, you have an amazing platform

foundation for creating new innovations,

new ways of working, new customer and

employee experiences – at the end of the

day, this is what it is really about – it’s about

the creation of new experiences powered

by technology."

But the biggest change in Coulter’s

opinion is the new integration approaches.

“Companies are moving away from this

wall-to-wall ERP story – they’re adopting

a balance of ERP and best of breed…so

the new technologies need to reflect this

change… and to shift from old fashioned

integration techniques into a more APIbased


As part of Evolution, we’re constantly

building out end-to-end process solutions

that are designed to easily integrate SAP

with these new cloud-native applications…

this means that we have the platform

foundation to help any client realize their

Digital Transformation journey irrespective

of their complexity."

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One New orchard Road

Armonk NY


T 914 499 1900 | ibm.com


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