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Road Ahead for SAP Consultants – 2010

Last year around this time, I blogged about what I thought was in store for SAP consultants in 2009. That generated a lot of interesting conversation. So, I thought I will followup with my thoughts on how that road might be in 2010 . All the usual caveats apply – these are just my personal opinions, and not of my employer. Also I have not done any scientific study to arrive at these. These are just based on my conversations with fellow consultants, and what I have observed over the past year or so.


1. Year of “Data”.

2010 will be the Year of the Tiger in Chinese calendar. For SAP consultants, I think it will be Year of “Data”.What does that mean? I think Business Intelligence and Information Management will be the big opportunities for SAP consultants. While SAP has a strong story on BI – I am not sure if there is sufficient differentiation between other information management products on the market and SAP’s EIM suite. So while I think EIM will be a big play in 2010, I am not so sure if this will mostly use SAP’s products. To a great degree – BI has this issue too to an extent. There are a good number of SAP cutomers out there who use Cognos, Microstartegy etc on top of BW. And those products work well for them.


2. Upgrade projects will pickup.

I think a lot of BW cutomers using 3.x version will be in a hurry to upgrade in 2010. Plus, the bigger customers on R/3 might want to upgrade business suite to  make use of enhancement packs. Upgrades need specific skills and tools. Such skills and tool experience should be very handy for consultants.


3. Mergers / Acquisitions / Divestitures should get some new projects started. Good news for FICO and SCM consultants.

This also needs specialized skills and tools. I would also think that this would open up a lot more production support opportunities, especially onsite support. Specifically, I think this will increase demand for FICO and SCM consultants – FICO because financial conolidations type work is unavoidable, and SCM because supply chain consolidation is usually high on the agenda for most merger situations from cost reduction perspective.


4. SOA comes back, but probably not with a strong BPM/BRM flavor

Since some time has been spent in letting the marketing talk die down on SOA, I think 2010 will see it actually being used in projects. I don’t think many large scale SAP SOA projects will start in 2010, but I do think several small ones will start. Now might be a good time to download some trial versions of composition tools from SDN, and get to know ESR better. I already blogged on my views on BPM/BRM a week ago. While I am a lot better educated on BRM now after reading James’ response – I don’t see BPM/BRM making a big play in 2010 in SAP space. However, I do believe that this would be a different story in 2011.


5. Trainers, get ready to rock

From my view point, 2009 was not a big year for training in SAP space. This makes me believe that 2010 will be better for SAP trainers, especially for SAP relevant business objects skills . I also think that training for newer technical skills will be in demand. There are known gaps in SAP education for certain skills – the example that comes to mind is CRM webclient development. If you can teach it, I know a lot of people who will sign up to learn.


6. Trade promotions Management would lead the CRM pack. BPS might get a side benefit. IFRS is the game for the FI gang

I think TPM will be red hot in 2010. Obviously, companies need to increase trade volumes in a profitable manner. I think there was not a lot of strategic thinking in how people got rid of inventory in 2009, and I don’t think they can do that in 2010 and live to tell the tale. From what I have seen – there aren’t too many CRM TPM consultants out there. So I have a strong feeling that TPM will make it big in 2010. And BPS (no it has not died) consultants might be a direct beneficiary of this, since BPS is an integral part of TPM.

Since listed and non-listed companies need IFRS comliant reports, I think IFRS will be in popular demand in 2010. I know a lot of my friends who do FI consulting were busy doing it in 2009 too, and I think it will continue right on.


7. SAP testing opportunities

There are not too many people who specialize in SAP testing. Mot SAP testing is done by the conultants who implement the solution. These folks do not come from a QA or testing background. And most career testing/QA experts do not come with SAP skills. I think some formal QA training/experience (and then marketing it) might open up opportunities for SAP consultants who might otherwise find it difficult to get a gig in the competetive market.


8. Industry solutions for utilities and higher education might be in demand

Industry specialization is always a great thing to have in SAP. And I think utilities, which doesn’t get hurt by bad economies all that much, and education – where people invest in bad economies – are two that will remain hot. SAP’s industry solutions are leading players for these segments, and I think that will have some great demand for consultants.


9. SAP Community recognition will become key

I am firmly convinced that if you are active in SCN, it will be very helpful in finding your next project, getting a raise and so on. There are plenty of SAP consultants out there, and you need every thing in your arsenal that gives you an edge. And what would give you a better edge than earning the respect of your fellow SAP experts? This works in the reverse too – don’t get into a situation where every one who gets into SCN knows you are in here for point hunting or other trouble 🙂


10. Go virtual

Virtualization is the name of the game now. If you are on basis/infrastructure side of SAP world, and are not smart about the possibilities of virtualization – now would be the time to do that reading and expirimenting. The interest I saw throughout 2009 makes me believe that majority of SAP customers are taking this route.


So, there you go – that is what I think. In general, I am optimistic that market will be better in certain areas than 2009.  Now I am very keen to hear from you on what you expect in SAP consulting market in 2010.

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  • Hi Vijay,

    We all should hope that 2010 will be a better year then 2009. Recession has ended and hopefully economy will look up too!! Spendings will increase and the projects in the pipeline will finally move out from there for actual implementation to begin esp in SAP CRM arena.

    Good point you pointed out the SAP CRM WeB UI Development arena which, still, is a niche skill. Hopefully Organisations understands that and utilise people possesing that skill effectively.

    It’s high time Old(intentionally using this word) people move from the official tag line “SAP Technical is all ABAP”!

    Last but not the least, wish everyone a great and positive 2010.


  • Hello Vijay,

    > 9. SAP Community recognition will become key
    I am still in doubt, that a SDN recognition will help me to get a job offer … but it is still fun to participate in SDN. You get nice contacts to SAP employees and extend your knowledge by helping others. In hope to get a job should not rank first to participate in SDN in my opinion :-))

    > 10. Go virtual
    Hopefully all that crazy support limitations will stop (SAP vs, Oracle VM or OEL, VMware vs. Oracle, etc.) .. if the software vendors would stop to trump each other .. you as a customer would really benefit from virtualization and can use it as it is … a great technology.


    • Hi Stefan

      I believe so – and here is why.
      The sheer number of SAP consultants have increased to a point that recruiters of SAP talent have to find new ways to shortlist. Certification is one way – but it is yet to capture the imagination of the world. So most recruiters I know of do a search on linkedin,SDN etc to see how the candidate is perceived in the market.


      • Hello Vijay,
        thanks for sharing your view.

        I my experience the SAP recruiters don’t spend one minute in SDN … i got many phone calls for job offers that didn’t match my areas of expertise in no way. If they would use SDN to check / select the experts, i would never get such calls.

        Maybe the SAP recruiters in the US are working different – glad to hear :-))


        • You are right – I am just basing my comment on interactions with the recruiters and hiring managers I know of…and ofcourse these folks are all in US. And you are probably right that this is not widespread – Jon Reed might be able to give us a perspective on that.

          There is one limitation that is apparent – Recruiters do not know SAP like practitioners do. So they have to infer from what they see at a high level. So questions/answers on SCN forums are probably hit and miss for them. But if you show up as a top contributor, as a speaker at sapphire or teched, or something along those lines – it is a lot easier to get their attention.

          Also, not everyone who poses as a recruiter is an actual recruiter. In US, it is not uncommon for several middlemen to exist between hiring manager and candidate. In this model, the quality of recruting process is sometimes really low – and it gives the candidate and hiring managers a lot of grief.

          • I also noticed this statement about importance of SDN in the recruitment process. Vijay, is it based on your experienced or you are saying this as an SAP Mentor? 😉

            Indeed, recruiters (and especially here in the US) are using SDN and LinkedIn as phone books to do “cold calls”, or “cold e-mails” to phrase it more correctly. How many offers did I get just being on LinkedIn and SDN: way too many. How many *quality* offers did I get? Zero. Another myth (at least from my experience) is being a speaker. How many quality offers did I get as 4 times conference speaker? One. Or may be I just do not speak in a way to get recruited. Indeed it’s not my goal.

            One more aspect of today’s job market, that US and EU passport and green-card holders might not be aware of. One of cold-call recruiters from Europe told me that supply of bodies today is much higher then demand. So, the first filtering criterion is not number of points on SDN or nr of positive recommendations on LinkedIn, but citizenship. He told me that those candidates requiring visa are filtered out without even looking into their CVs.

            Btw, Jon is based in the US as well. But I suggested him to start with and then expand into other markets. 😉

          • hahaha – you should check out my blog on BPM/BRM last week to see how much free PR I throw SAP’s way :). For the record – I don’t tone down anything because they made me a mentor. The importance I, and other people I know, give SCN contributions is what prompted me to make that comment.

            So let me try to explain my view one more time – If you just contribute to SDN and wait, probably all you will get are useless cold calls.  I DO NOT want to give out a false impression that SCN contribution will catapult you over others in every situation. I DO NOT think that it is a first filter either.However, if you are actively job hunting, then you could positively use your community visibility as an additional qualification.

          • Hi Vijay. I hear what you are saying and valuing your point of view. Yet, my opinion is that SCN in people’s resume will not rock next year. For me in general SDN measures level of social skills of collaboration and ability to share more than technical mastery level (but I am not saying that it does not reflect expertise at all). While I do value these social skills (another reason why I am personally here on SDN), I do not recall anyone asking me about those skills during any interview. Along the same line I know lots of extremely good guys who do not care about visibility at SCN, they do not share and have no problems with getting into projects.
            The moment someone takes title of Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin book “Differentiate Or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition” as his life motto, we see it on SDN in a form of flood of non-MECE articles, useless “BW tweets” or pathology of double registrations to post and answer own questions for points.
            PS. Again: just my point of view. Let’s reconnect in one year to verify our judgments on this 2010 prediction.
            PPS. It would be interesting to see as well your blog that summarizes observations of yours from last year against predictions for 2009.
            PPPS. Good feedback on BPM. My initial understanding of SAP Mentor program was that those are SDN representatives who provide community feedback to SAP. But then I was surprised to see SAP employees among mentors.
          • Hello Vitaliy,
            > So, the first filtering criterion is not number of points on SDN or nr of positive recommendations on LinkedIn, but citizenship

            Damn it! So i will never work in the US, if the citizenship is the most important part. I already have noticed, that the willingness (of companies) to issue a visa has decreased drastically.

            So i have to wait for better times for the US economy … or i will stay forever in europe ;-))


          • I read recently that there were some 20000 work visas that were unclaimed this year. Usually all 65000 or so gets applied for in first day. In 2010, if market picks up in certain areas, I don’t think visa will be the big issue. But competition won’t be easy to overcome – there are qualified SAP consultants in most corners of the world, and if someone equally good can do it for less money – guess who wins?

          • Hi Stefan,

            It applies to Europe even more than to the US 🙂 Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria etc – forget about getting a visa if you have EU/Swiss passport or residence.

            PS. It is still worth to spend few years in USA.

  • Vijay did a good job in analyzing the market potential. I agree that SOA middleware will be picking up in 2010. I think having skills in integrating the cloud computing such as Google apps, Amazon apps with SAP and Web 2.0 technologies in general would be a huge plus in getting projects.
  • Hey there is nothing mentioned about the ABAP market in the Future .

    Now people says tht ABAP will be soon out from the market is it that whats your opinion .

    • I don’t think ABAP is on a death bed. On the contrary I think it is alive, kicking and growing. Check out Thomas Jung’s podcast to see what is new.

  • Vijay, good stuff, and a good comment thread.

    I probably can’t address all the different points in one comment, but I will say I think 2010 will be a pretty challenging year for SAP consulting. I don’t see enough big new projects and major upgrades on the horizon to fuel the demand for consultants. I see companies also experimenting more with offsite teams and the continuing problem of trying to compete in global markets where companies are sourcing skills. It’s all about not becoming a “skills commodity” and how to stay on the edge of what customers are looking for without getting too far ahead.

    Having said that, there’s always opportunities for savvy individuals in areas within SAP where there is growth, and I think you’ve done a good job of nailing those. I would agree that BI related work is going to be a major consulting driver in the SAP space in 2010, but as you say, not just SAP BO tools – many others will be in play also.

    I do think we are going to see more virtualized opportunities as well, including help desks in the cloud and “configuration experts in the cloud” on demand. Many services firms are toying with these ideas. Advantages: work from home. Disadvantage: lower rates and more competition for such “cloud” roles.

    There will also be more experiments with companies going directly to third party experts on online marketplaces and procuring talent from a range of specialty firms, not just big SIs. This is kind of a complex topic but SAP customers aren’t thrilled with all the layers they still have to go through sometimes to get at the experts they want, so I see changes there, though perhaps more in 2011-2012 as some of these reach critical mass.

    As for the discussion on reputation and online visibility, that’s another complex topic. I actually think it starts offline, with figuring out what area of SAP you are going to specialize in and throwing yourself into that area with abandon. Then from there, you figure out which platforms will extend that reputation – SCN is certainly one but there are many others, depends on your skills and talents (videos, webcasts, Twitter, etc). Don’t forget that reputation and recognition is more than getting new projects, it’s about solidifying your own job security, and building a better network that allows you to perform your current work better. I don’t really think it’s a debatable point that working to extend your visibility by making a real community contribution (as opposed to simply broadcasting yourself) does pay off. I think this will gain more momentum as we see more means of being able to actually rate consulting firms and individual consultants online for that transparency that companies are looking for as they evaluate performance/quality. That’s probably a 2012 trend more than next year though (ratings visibility).

    And yes, recruiters are using these new mediums more. Perhaps not all the jobs they are recruiting for are good ones, but corporate recruiters are also looking for affordable ways to get at SAP professionals directly so we can expect more of that to happen. Certainly LinkedIn has become a place where that happens. We can say it’s not just about responding to job boards any more, recruiters are finding talent in many ways online.

    Certainly these practices vary by region as well. No one in my opinion can be an expert in all regions. I don’t want this to become about me, but since it was brought up, my work is U.S. based as is my web site but I do interact with SAP pros all over the word. Launching more regional sites is well beyond the scope of what I can personally do but fortunately there are plenty of web sites and ways to gather information.

    Thanks Vijay for a provocative and useful post. Of course we’ll continue this discussion throughout 2010 and I’ll personally continue to blog and podcast and Tweet on it with you all year long also. 🙂

    – Jon

  • Hi Vijay,
    Just to add, I guess perhaps the customers who are not upgrading would probably be interested in advanced reporting.
    SAP provided strong reporting tools but a lack of visualization is apparent. This is addressed with Business Objects. However, probably not only BO but the HR related tools involving talent manipulation and org chart visualization would also play an important part.


  • Thanks Vijay.
    This helps a lot for freshers like me who have just started the career in SAP.
    It’s tough on the job-hunt end, but at the same time, the SDN is an excellent tool for all of us to keep our hands on.

    Thanks again for such a great post!

  • Hi Vijay, What is your opinion on SRM
    ( Supplier relationship Management)? I personally feel, the SRM is a area where the companies can save a lot of cost and bring lots of efficiency through sourcing, contracting and enhanced supplier engagement? Probably, this is the reason SAP has launched the latest version of SRM, SRM7.0 in the midst of recession. In India, not many companies except OIL PSU’s have implemented SRM which is a basically a extension of SAP MM functionality. How do you see the scope of SRM in the days to come for consultant?


    • Personally, I have only good things to say about SRM. I agree with your view on how it adds value. However, I did not hear about a big uptake in SRM amongst the people I spoke with. That is the only reason I did not call it out explicitly. Mine is not an exhaustive study – so it might very well be that SRM might be a big thing in 2010.
  • Thanks for the knowledge sharing & your instinctive approach towards the SAP in 2010 MARKET trend…

    Its Really helpful.

    Thanks & i Appreciate your sharing knowledge.

    Gaurav Chopra