Many years ago, when I first heard of SAP A1 (codename for the then upcoming Business ByDesign) it immediately caught my attention. I am a believer in cloud and SaaS (Software-as-a-service) offerings.
Our company is an IT consulting firm. We need to focus on our core services to customers and not waste time on lesser mission critical (but still important) issues like data security, redundancy of our servers or even worrying about them altogether. A hardware failure in one of our servers would be disastrous. We simply don’t staff an army of IT support guys to take care of that.
It is with that mentality that we adopted other SaaS solutions for our company like Google Apps (for mail and apps suite), Replicon (for timesheets) and ZOHO (for light CRM).
The opportunity of rewriting SAP ERP (R/3) from scratch tailoring it to the smaller players is a very compelling argument. While SAP ERP is possibly the most complete ERP solution out there, with a huge functionality depth, it can be heavy at times, when dealing with small customers (often fault of consulting partners or even customers themselves). Sure some consulting companies have been able to work around that with innovative approaches but SAP ERP often positions itself as the most expensive alternative in software selection cycles (again, not comparing functionality here).
From early on, as a SAP Mentor, I got access to previews, and more important to SAP Executives responsible for the partner enablement and go to market strategies. As soon as SAP ByDesign started to be offered in Canada and Canadian partners were recruited, we were there as one of the first. Since then, we’ve invested a considerable amount of time and money in building our practice. Deals were signed and customers have gone live.
A bucket of ice cold water…
During SAPPHIRE 2012 in Orlando, ByDesign received little to no attention. Partly due to recent acquisitions (Successfactors), emphasis was completely placed on other products when talking about “Cloud” offerings. Sure those solutions were built as “building blocks” with the so-called “Loosely coupled” approach (What I believe is an over utilized marketing buzzword…). Cool, that sounds nice, but what about SAP ByDesign? Now that it is finally established on the market, selling well with enabled partners, no mention about it?
SAP Business ByDesign is the largest single Development investment SAP has ever made. The product is, in many ways, revolutionary. We still strongly believe in it, but with this type of SAP message coming from SAP Executives, how could we believe we were on the right track, betting on the right horses? There is just too much on the line right now. We needed clarifications…
Starting at SAPPHIRE, I looked for clarifications about SAP’s state of direction regarding ByD. I looked for answers that could help easy my worries that ByD was not going to be left behind.
Also, another impression some others in the room got (even I was under that impression) was that the “Loosely Coupled” pitch was so strong that it could lead eventually to a split in pieces of the already built as one… ByD. That would just be wrong.
I needed reassurance… badly…
Meeting SAP Executives and visiting Walldorf
While still on Orlando, I had the opportunity of talking to Rainer Zinow (Senior Vice President ByD Development and Field Topics) about my impressions. He reassured me that SAP ByD remains an important priority in SAP Cloud Strategy. As a spinoff of this discussion, while in Walldorf for meetings with SAP Language Services (another BLOG is on its way about that), I was invited to meet Juergen Sattler(Executive Vice President and Head of Cloud Development), Rainer Zinow and Werner Wolf(Development Manager – SDK).
Meeting Rainer Zinow
Meeting Werner Wolf
Questions specific about the much-waited debugging capabilities for the ByD Studio:
ByD remains a very solid ERP SaaS alternative for the mid-market and subsidiaries. In fact, as a solution, ByD has never been stronger. We can surely say that given the following:
- ByD Studio (SDK) is now generally available. This will enable partners to develop what is called “one-offs” or “last mile developments. In the areas where ByD lacks functionality, this gap can now be addressed with rather minor investments. SDK continues to evolve with a dedicated team that is still located in Walldorf;
- ByD has on SAP Store many add-ons built by partners; more are being made available each day;
- ByD is now in its 4.0 Future Pack and available in 15 countries in 10 languages;
- The ecosystem has more than 100 partners;
- SAP Business ByDesign remains a very strong product in the SAP Cloud portfolio. It is the only ERP solution fully built and delivered as a SaaS solution;
- ByDesign positioning is now also focused on Large Enterprise Subsidiaries;
- To better respond to market demand ByD releases will now be quarterly. This will allow to faster cycles and much faster adoption of new functionalities;
- Feature Packs (FP) will continue to improve ByD as a product. These are developed by a dedicated team out of Bangalore. The consolidation of development teams will allow better synergy and faster development cycles.
- ByD continues to be a very strong technical proposition as it has a well established, “Hassle-free”, clear Mobile strategy built into the product itself. Also ByD is already “Powered by HANA”(for its analytics part).
It may have taken a long time, and a long distance, but reassurance was achieved. Considering how confusing the original message was delivered, I consider this a success.
Still a strong believer in SAP Business ByDesign and now an avid ByD Studio Developer,
Leonardo De Araujo