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SAP Briefing – Cloud, Mobility and HCM


I recently had the opportunity to attend a briefing with 16 bloggers at the SAP Labs in Palo Alto. It was a day and a half of sessions covering Cloud, Mobility and HANA. Stacey Fish was kind enough to set up some 1-1 meetings with the SAP HCM team so I swapped them for the HANA portion which john.appleby3 made sure to let me know was a strategic mistake on my part 😆 . The SAP Global communications blogger/influencer program is lead by Mike Prosceno and they do great job of getting some of SAP’s toughest critics as well as key senior level SAP executives together for these briefings. There was quite a bit of information to digest in each session but here are the major things that jumped out at me.

Cloud – The event started with the cloud team and it appeared their main goal was to explain the longer-term cloud platform strategy as well as provide some information on the various cloud products such as SuccessFactors, B1, ByDesign and the OnDemand. Unfortunately the session got off track from the beginning and although attempts were made to get it back on track the general consensus was the message and overall strategy were very confusing. If SAP can’t clearly explain their cloud strategy in simple terms to people who follow and work in SAP for their living how can they expect customers to understand.  I would have given SAP cloud team the benefit of the doubt but mixed and confusing messaging have been the norm over the past six months starting at Sapphire. I hope this serves as a wake up call and the team is aligned with a clear and consistent message for TechEd and Sapphire Madrid, as with the money SAP has spent on SuccessFactors and Ariba, as well as the competitive landscape, there is not a lot of room for error.  On a side note a group of SAP Mentors attempted to provide some clarity around SAP’s Cloud Strategy prior to this event

Mobility – I have been critical of the SAP Mobility strategy in the past but Sanjay Poonen and the mobile team did an excellent job delivering a clear strategy and consistent message. We discussed the overall strategy of Afaria, Sybase, Gateway, Mobile Apps, Licensing and Syclo and some things that jumped out at me were as follows:

  • SAP is really listening when it comes to mobile developer access and gateway pricing.
  • SAP has a strong vision and market strategy around mobile device management with Afaria
  • SAP is going to be aggressive around Windows 8 mobile devices with several upcoming announcements planned.
  • The mobile licensing model is not as complex as it has been in the past.
  • SAP plans to consolidate it current multi-platform approach into a unified SAP Mobile Platform.
  • SAP has a run-time mobile license option for customers looking for just a few mobile productivity apps. This will be a good fit for many customers.
  • Richard Padula who is CEO of Syclo did a great job on explaining some industry specific mobile apps they have developed. This appears to be a very smart and strategic acquisition by SAP.
  • There were some neat demos on 3D mobile functionality from their Right Hemisphere acquisition last year.
  • SAP still has challenges explaining why mobile apps such as the ones for HR cost additional for onPremise customers while are included in the subscription model of SuccessFactors and some of their competitors.
  • Sanjay Poonen in one of SAP’s best public speakers and did a great job explaining the mobile strategy.
  • I would like the SAP Mobile team to become more creative around including simple apps as Time Sheet, Employee Look Up and Pay Slip (on roadmap) within an existing user license and not charge any extra for it.

Overall I was very impressed as I think after what many would consider a rough patch the SAP mobile team definitely seems on the right track. 

SAP HCM – I had an opportunity to meet with several members of the SAP HCM team to discuss the Shared Service Framework, HR Renewal, Mobile HR Roadmap and longer term strategy. While several portions were under NDA enclosed are some of my thoughts on the meetings:

  • You will be hearing a lot more about the Shared Service Framework for HR in the coming year and it is a real untapped market.
  • The HR Renewal, which covers multiple areas, will continue to be one of the key areas of investment for SAP next year.
  • The HR renewal 1.0 (FP1) was released on schedule on Sept 14, 2012.
  • My opinion is the functionality released in the HR Renewal is going be heavily adopted by customers once they get to EHP6.
  • Some portions of HR Renewal are only available for NWBC 4.0 and SAP is targeting having them ready for the portal by the end of year or early Q1.
  • There are some new mobile apps planned for 2013 such as the Time Sheet, Work Center and Pay slip
  • The time to market on the SAP HCM Mobile apps have been very slow and I didn’t get a clear picture SAP has a specific plan to address. I think there could be an opportunity in working with the Syclo team to improve the speed of delivery.
  • SAP has plans to deliver HCM functionality on HANA in 2013/14 in some key and strategic areas.
  • SuccessFactors Jam is going to be incorporated into some of SAP HCM offerings.
  • The SAP/SuccessFactors integration roadmap will not continue past 2013 after SAP has delivered all the core integration.

Here are some reports from other bloggers that were at the event:

Vijay Vijayasankar wrote that SAP Needs a Better Cloud and Platform Story and a Good Story Teller

Frank Scavo wrote about SAP’s Emerging Cloud Platform Strategy

Vijay Vijayasankar, Jon Reed, John Appleby, Harald Reiter and Dennis Howlett got together for this JD-OD video.

(Disclosure: SAP paid my travel expenses to attend the influencer event and I even got to see Mark Finnern modeling one of the new SAP Mentor shirts during one of the breaks)

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  • That NDA is the spoiler here 🙂 . Thanks for the updates and nice to know that hr-Renewal keeps getting focus. HCM on HANA is another area that sounds intresting.



    • Thanks Raj for the comment and there is definitely a LOT of focus on the HR Renewal from SAP as well as I am seeing quite a bit of interest from large customers as well.

  • Hi Jarret,

    are you the first blogger from the event to provide the feedback? in any case, very fine reporting considering the independence and objectivity goal we all strive to maintain.



  • Hi Jarret,

    Good job with getting this out. I’m surprised about the message around integration – it’s been a bit disappointing already, so I’m surprised they are just going to leave it up to customers. However, that leaves a lot of pickings for consultancies in the face of reduced professional services.

    Best regards,


    • Thanks for the comment Luke and while I definitely agree with you that the integration and speed of delivery has been weak to date if we look out to a crystal ball once IP5 has been delivered in 2013 (and there will be a little more after that) a majority of the core integration will be in place so it makes sense for SAP to stand back and let partners handle the rest especially given that many customer will need help anyways unless they are using very standard SAP HCM functionality and using the exact hybrid strategy between SAP HCM and SuccessFactors that SAP recommends.

      • Jarret, did you get any clarity on whether customers will be paying additional licensing costs for the PI onDemand solution to interface to SuccessFactors, or will the integration license be part of the existing SAP and SuccessFactors licenses that they are paying for?

          • Hi Chris

            This was a surprise to me and not mentioned at the session I attended as I always assumed the integration roadmap that was “waiting” for Netweaver PI would be included for free especially since SAP owns both companies.  If I understand correctly for example customers that use SuccessFactors Compensation and want to send that back to SAP Payroll will need to license SuccessFactors Comp and Netweaver PI to get the data back to SAP.  Sure makes a great case for using the already integrated and included in base user license SAP Enterprise Compensation (ECM) (assuming you have enough MSS licenses) doesnt it 🙂

          • Sure does when that integration will need PI (onDemand or onPremise) to work.

            Works out for larger companies that already have PI, what a pain for those that don’t.

            To be fair, I was expecting that it would be built such that you’d have to use the cloud integration layer ( the slides we’d seen to this point hadn’t had a onPrem integration picture.) So glad that not everyone will be stuffed.

            Spoke to Michelle De Wet at Transfield who are going with the hybrid solution, they fortunately have PI in their landscape. Will be interested if there are other customers who signed on to hybrid but didn’t have PI in scope.

  • Thanks for the info Jaret.

    I would like to know more about SAP Strategy on SuccessFactors delivery (considering your NDA).

    Also, Its is good to hear that Mobility & HANA coming up with HR. But its disappointing that they are not clear about their cloud strategy.

    Thanks again


  • Hi Jarret,

    thanks for this very informative blog.

    One comment that caught my eye – “Some portions of HR Renewal are only available for NWBC 4.0 and SAP is targeting having them ready for the portal by the end of year or early Q1.

    It seems like there is no “mobile first” principle being applied in the HCM area yet. What are you thoughts?


    Graham Robbo

    • Hi Graham,

      SAP released a wide ranging set of HR scenarios via Sybase but they require

      additional infrastructure and licensing to deploy them.

      We’ve had limited success with getting EHP4/EHP5 ESS scenarios running via SAP Portal 7.00 and 7.02 but have yet to make the transition to Portal 7.3 and Ajax framework which has better mobile support.


      • Thanks for chiming in George as always great to hear a customer perspective and making a business case for SAP HR customers in mobile will be a real challenge even for the run-time license model.

    • Just spent 10 minutes typing a response, and “poof” gone… <sigh>

      shorter version retyped:

      With lack of future HCM investment other than in core and mobile, there will likely be few new processes. “Mobile first”, to me, is about process design working around mobility use case and building solution to support that. No new processes = no new solutions => no new design.

      Even latest release of HR Renewal functionality pack which is causing the portal issue is using SAPUI5, which is not mobile friendly. Mobile first likely hadn’t hit the working floor when this raft of functionality came through 🙁 . With very little additional functionality planned for the future (I’d like to know that that HANA functionality is going to be!), I can’t imagine that HCM onPremise will ever have a “mobile first” designed process. We will have to hope instead that SuccessFactors will provide that.

      However, on the SucessFactors side, even though it is better than current SAP on premise offerings, it’s not exactly the most amazing offering. To be a little pessimistic, I’d guess that currently the work is progressing on building a solution for the unified platform, with integration to Afaria etc, rather than on end user functionality. Jarret, perhaps you heard otherwise?

      • Great comment Chris and can only image the longer version (I hate when that happens). When I see Bill M talk about SAP has a mobile first design for ERP it makes me chuckle as I am not seeing the end result to back that up. When I hear Lars talk about it for SuccessFactors (he mentioned several times at SuccessConnect San Fran) I tend to believe him although in talking with several bloggers at the conference made me believe they were well behind Workday in UX/UI.

        SAP still has a challenge to explain to their OnPremise customers why they need a mobile run time license and have to buy the app (not cheap) to enter their time for example while their sister run company SuccessFactors offers their value added apps as part of their base user license and their competitors such as Workday continue to roll out innovation in this area (check out WD17)

          • Not confirmed yet, but seems like it will be entirely free as part of the standard Nakisa licenses. Will have it confirmed by the time my blog is released in next few weeks.

          • I think it would be a smart move by Nakisa but I am pretty surprised they are going “rebel” as SAP has strongly indicated they want their partners to develop apps using the Sybase model.

          • I think Nakisa recognize that the Sybase model is prohibitive for a number of their customers and the lack of uptake this would cause makes the development effort already spent nonviable. In other words, it makes more sense for their customers if they avoided using the Sybase infrastructure 😉

    • Thanks for the kind words and comment Graham as just finished watching your Mentor Monday replay on “Is Twitter Dead” (good stuff). As far as your questions

      One of the main innovations in the HR Renewal FP1.0 is the PA/OM landing/start page and it will ONLY run on NWBC 4.0 which will delay adoption as the uptake on NWBC (and being on 4.0) is an extremely small % of the global customer base.

      I think SAP “talks” about have a mobile first design and one of the areas they initially focused on was the HR Apps but with a confusing (getting better) and expensive licensing strategy (still an issue) adoption has been low. I dont believe customers should have to pay anything for basic HCM mobile functionality like entering time or seeing their paystub online as hard to see why that isnt include in the basic user license.  On a side note development of new apps is painfully slow as there has been 1 new HCM app since the main release in Oct 11 and none planned to mid year 2013.  That still has stopped SAP from offering to help customers with their “speed” SAP opens a new front on mobility design, user education (pretty funny if you think about it).

      Had a good discussion with the CEO of Syclo last week and got the sense that SAP should be leveraging their speed of developing enterprise apps as much as possible.

  • “I would like the SAP Mobile team to become more creative around including simple apps as Time Sheet, Employee Look Up and Pay Slip (on roadmap) within an existing user license and not charge any extra for it.”

    Whilst the runtime licensing is good news (single additional license) price point remains prohibitive. When a customer already has ESS/MSS services the additional costs are hard to justify.

    • That is exactly what I mentioned to the SAP leadership team when I was at the event last week but unfortunately not optimistic that change is coming anytime soon.

  • Hi Jarret,

    Great contribution from you again. I really enjoyed this blog. There is a lot of information here. I agree about the statement around making mobile apps free for On prem customers for wider adoption. While comparing On-prem SAP with SFSF the mobility aspect does stand out in favour of SFSF. I wonder if its deliberate.

    As a consultant I would be excited to introduce these apps to my customers were they freely available.

    • Thanks for the kind words Vinay and glad you found this article valuable.

      I agree with you on mobility but hard to think it was deliberate especially since with their current strategy puts them in a difficult spot trying to explain to their SAP HCM Core customers why they have to pay extra (and they are very expensive) to get ANYTHING on a mobile app while SuccessFactors who they fully own offer then as part of the subscription.

      The bottom line is mobile adoption for SAP HCM customer is extremely poor and I believe is putting SAP at a longer term competitive disadvantage if they dont address. Most of what I wrote one year ago tomorrow in this blog Is SAP Using the Right Mobility Strategy is still an issue.