This is my third year trying to give my outlook for SAP consultants for the following year. 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 my clients, fellow consultants, analystsm and what I have observed over the past year or so.
1. BusinessObjects reporting tools will get significant traction in BW shops
Some work needs to be done by consultants to undo the confusion generated by name changes of products. I saw first hand the amount of confusion that exists when I was at Teched this year. There is also some doubts on XI 4.0 – and I heard several people taking a position that they would rather wait for XI 4.1 . So – expect your clients to ask many questions on Roadmap for BOBJ when you walk into your client’s office.
2. More clients will move from BPS/IP and EC-CS / BCS to BPC
With the 7.5 version for Netweaver version, I think a lot more clients will move to BPC. This is not a totally painless exercise – since legacy planning and consolidation systems usually have a lot of custom built functionality that is business critical. And I am yet to see a BPC consultant who has not expressed serious frustration on Allocations functionality. Not many consultants seem to have checked out Profitability and Cost Management solution, and how it integrates with BPC and ECC and legacy systems. I don’t think PCM will take off significantly in 2011, but nevertheless I would like to urge my fellow consultants to check it out.
3. New GL migrations is an area where FI-CO consultants can keep busy
Over the last couple of years, more and more SAP customers have moved on to ECC 6.0. However, several of them are still using classic GL. Automatic reconciliation between FI and CO, preparation for IFRS and so on are prompting many clients to migrate over to New GL.
4. Learn what is possible with HANA and what is not
HANA is a game changer – I am fully convinced. 2011 will be the ideal time for consultants to get themselves familiar with HANA. A lucky few might get to experience HANA 1.0 in 2011, and those folks should have a upper hand when later versions of HANA come out.
5. ABAP rules, again
SAP’s commitment to ABAP is not in doubt anymore, and programmers will do well to learn how ABAP has evolved. A significant number of programmers are still stuck in the late nineties abilities of ABAP. All I can say is “you have no idea what you are missing”. The quality of projects will significantly increase if ABAPers learnt how to use their tools better . Learning what is new in ABAP is not an end in itself – you have to find where to use it in your projects.
6. Virtualization will continue to gain traction
SAP and many partners have made significant advances in virtualization – and I have first hand seen many clients seriously interested in virtualizing their SAP environment. However this is also an area where the world is not short of hype and jargon – so it would be prudent to find out what is possible and what is not before you commit too deeply into this area.
7. Security and Compliance is a big deal
All things security/compliance related will be hot. This is a constant worry for many clients, and is one of those areas like BI where companies are willing to spend money despite the shape of the economy. Also, a lot of consultants are unaware of what GRC is – and getting some knowledge on GRC might be a great idea.
8. Data federation can add significant business value
From the time I started in SAP, I have seen the pain of data sitting in many different systems and business not being able to use it without spending a lot of time building ETL to put it into a common data warehouse, and then build reports on it. In M&A type situations, it is a big problem on combining data quickly enough across companies and get a common P&L statement. With tools like data federator from SAP, this is now quite feasible. With data federator being a part of common semantic layer, a lot of possibilities have opened up for SAP customers. Consultants should be able to add significant business value by using these features in their projects.
9. Wait and watch for Business by Design
I talked to many consultants who know more about this area than I do – and in general, from the consulting side, my impression is that the opportunities is in creating add-ons. C# and ABAP are both relatively easy languages, and you can jump into ByDesign from either side – although I think C# folks will have an advantage. But I could not fully understand what it takes for developers to create add-ons and sell them. So I think this is a “wait and watch” item.
10. Capitalize on SAP’s growth in many parts of the world, especially Asia
The number of ERP implementations in Asian countries remind me of the scene in US and Europe when I started as a consultant. This might be a great opportunity for the experienced SAP consultants in mature markets to use to their advantage.
So there we are – I am looking forward to hearing your opinion and analysis.