I have just about got my body in sync after another great SAP flagship conference (SapphireNow 2014). Over 25,000 people were in
attendance and there was a real upbeat atmosphere around the place.
25,000 people all talking about SAP can be pretty daunting, and the focus on the conversation normally relates to the output of the keynote sessions which start each of the three days of the conference. This year was not as grand as SAP moved to adopt their new slogan “run simple”. In truth simple and SAP don’t always go hand in hand in fact for customers and consultants alike simple can be far away from an implementation or sales cycle to purchase a SAP product.
Three messages from the keynotes
1 – SAP wants to become simple.
2 – SAP Fiori and Personnas will be included in the standard SAP Business Suite licences
3 – Details of partnerships with hardware Vendors and platform partnerships with Ebay.
SAP wants to become simple.
I want to emphasise the word “become” here as it would be foolish to announce that overnight the giant beast with 60,000+ employees and over 2,500 products “was” actually simple moving forward.
The key influence to the start of their “run simple” journey was the release of information around “simple Finance” which is a new suite of apps and transactions powered by SAP HANA removing the need to store data in aggregated tables. When examining under the bonnet of the new solution it is clear that “simple” had not been at the centre of the naming and delivery of the product
SAP Simple Finance is a solution that is ONLY available via SAP HEC – (the managed serviced cloud based offering from SAP) – I am happy for someone to correct me around this description !!. It is also available via SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, known as Finance add-on – via Enhancement
Package 7h. The solution is a mixture of three major enhancements
1 – Removal of aggregation tables in SAP Finance.
This will speed not only the system up even more, but reduce the size of the database. There is a potential 40-60% reduction in table space depending on the sub-modules that are active
2 – SAP Fiori front end.
A number of the most common Finance transactions have had a facelift. Anyone who has used the traditional
SAP Gui screens will be in for a shock when they see how the standard screens have been transformed into beautiful pieces of art.
3 – Additional functionality.
By making the changes in the underlying table structure new applications have been able to be created. Working capital, integrated planning and treasury all have new applications that can be consumed via this new solution/ platform.
This is a massive step forward for both SAP and its customers. Finally the core of SAP has had some real investment and whilst the final solution is not there yet, the changes shown and the direction that SAP plan to take in this space is a massive jump forward and should over time increase the volume of customers that move to SAP Business Suite on HANA (on premise or in the cloud). I would like to say that I would be a rich man if I had a pound for every time I heard a SAP employee say that SAP were NOW a cloud company.
No charge for SAP Fiori and Personnas.
This is obviously great news. One of the best developments SAP has made over the past few years has no additional cost to the fee paying customers. It is something I would like to congratulate SAP on and I would encourage the SAP user base to see how they can consume the new apps.
It is worth noting that over 80% of the SAP Fiori apps will ONLY work on the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA platform. This leads a massive market for SAP Partners to create their own SAP Fiori apps to run on the standard SAP Business Suite solution and make use of the SAPUI5 design. SAP Personnas can work on both the SAP HANA and non-HANA solutions and will help tie together business processes. SAP have made it clear that any new release of SAP Fiori apps will be targeted at SAP Business Suite on HANA and therefore this again puts both pressure and rationale for customers to switch to the latest HANA based solution.
From the shop-floor.
I did mention that the third key point from the keynotes was around Partnerships SAP have made and whilst this is good news for everyone involved I do not really have an opinion or interest in this as an area. I would prefer to talk about what I spotted on the main floor of the event.
25,000 is a massive number. I believe an increase of 30% on last year. This could be because there will be no European Sapphire in 2014. What was noticeable, especially in the first two days was that there were too many people and not enough sessions. Micro-sessions which normally attract 30-40 attendees were over spilling with some swelling to more than 100. With no microphones available for the presenters certain audience members were far from impressed. If the trend is to increase the number of attendees then the number of speaking slots needs to increase too.
Some great partner
content. I like to spend an hour or two wandering up and down the smaller booths to learn what some partners have to say and how 3rd party products complement SAP. I must say that I found a good few of these interesting and a real benefit to the clients I work with. If you plan to attend next year I would recommend that you spend some time and listen to what they have to say.
Apart from attending keynote speaker sessions, catching up with customers and meeting SAP executives I managed to spend some time testing some of the SAP Products of the future. The SAP usability test center is a great place to find out what COULD be released in your area and is a well-run section within the event. I would recommend that you pop on down there in 2015.
I just wanted to sign off by saying it was really great meeting so many familiar faces within the SAP community. I am lucky to have attended conferences like Sapphirenow for a while now and have made some great friends along the way. Thank you all for the great discussions and long may they continue.