SAPPHIRENOW 2014 in Orlando starts tomorrow. This annual event is the summit where customers, partners and SAP itself meet to go over the latest solutions and technologies.
This year is particularly important for the following reasons:
- Maturity of HANA – HANA as an innovation platform has reached its maturity and we start seeing some very compelling solutions built on it. The most recent one being Financials on Demand, the Financials part of SAP ERP, rewritten to leverage HANA platform. The possibilities are great and we are starting to see what the future holds for the business suite. These are exciting times for anyone in the industry.
- Changes in strategy and C level executives – With the departure of Vishal Sikka, a person that is largely responsible for the amazing technological leap SAP has taken in the last 10 years and also considered one of the fathers of HANA (let’s call him grandfather as HANA’s daddy is Hasso of course…), a new direction starts to take place. What will it be and how will it reflect on product portfolio strategy is to be seen. Hopefully we will get a better grasp of it this week.
But what I would REALLY like to see this week is a return by SAP to its core. Let me explain:
Since the Netweaver leap, SAP has become a technology company. And even a great one at that. Platform, databases, mobility, cloud, analytics, etc, they are all there. Some with more success than others, but all there, very present, center to SAP value proposition.
And that is what I would like to see changing.
Even though SAP became a technology company (and again, a very good one), It is not what made SAP is what it is today. Simply put, SAP is an APPLICATIONS COMPANY.
The vast majority of SAP clients, got SAP for its BUSINESS APPLICATIONS Knowhow. That is reflected in the SAP Business Suite. Yes, a suite that has grown for the last 40 years, that reached a point where there is simply NO COMPETITION OUT THERE. You may find some best of breed here and there, but reality is that there is no other solution out there that has the same industry reach and functionality depth.
So, why am I bringing this up? Because SAP’s go to market strategy has been too much (IMHO) focused on the technology pitch: “How good SAP is on Mobility, Cloud, etc.” Great, but why not center where SAP is simply the King? Business Suite is here to stay and has evolved over time. This is where customers spend large parts of their IT budget and I believe they should not be left behind by a sales-focused-only marketing strategy.
SAP customers got SAP for its applications but also for the innovation that comes along. Leveraging their investment is clearly their main priority.
Still today the main complains (and challenges) potential new SAP customers have (and surely existing customers too) is that SAP can be expensive to run and ugly/clunky at usability. Not that I agree with that, but addressing this should be central to SAP’s strategy moving forward. SAP has done a great job in the last years with UX renewal. Lets see where it’s at this week.