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Last week I participated in the Media and Analyst Program at Sapphire Now and ASUG Annual Conference in Orlando.

One announcement that caught my attention was that SAP plans to collaborate with partners to accelerate customer adoption of SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

In a bloggers meeting with Sven Denecken, Head of Product Management and Co-Innovation for S/4HANA, and some of his team I learned that SAP simply doesn’t have the resources to build what we used to call “Industry Solutions” for S/4HANA quickly enough to address the market demand and are looking to their partners for help.

The most tangible of the announced collaborations was the SAP and Accenture co-development for the oil & gas industry.

Phil Wainewright from diginomica and I later met with Bernd Leukert, SAP Executive Board member with global responsibility for development and delivery of products across SAP’s product portfolio, where we heard that things are moving quickly.

Leukert said that the work on the Oil & Gas extensions has already commenced and that a significant number of Accenture developers are attending training this week. Another SAP employee involved with this initiative later told me that SAP hopes to be selling and recognising revenue from this project this calendar year.

And this all plays into the underpinning message from Hasso Plattner’s keynote. If you want business agility you need to be in the cloud.

There was another initiative Bernd Leukert shared that caught my attention.

SAP recognise that there are plenty of other industry-specific S/4HANA extensions that – whilst not attracting the attention of partners like Accenture, Capgemini & Deloitte – customers will need to round out their S/4HANA implementation. So SAP are seeking to turn some of their customers into partners – CustPartners? – by allowing them to publish and sell their S/4HANA extensions on the SAP Apps Centre.

Leukert gave the example of five SAP customers in the manufacturing space who were all looking to develop a very similar S/4HANA extension. “I had a meeting with the five CEO’s, pointed out that while they were all manufacturers they all made different things and so were not competitors, then proposed they should build one extension they could all use. They all agreed”.

This is a significant difference from the traditional SAP on-premise playground. If a SAP customer wants to take their SAP add-on and “productise” it to sell to other SAP customers they hit a brick wall. There are too many issues to go into here but it cost lots of money and there are many hoops to jump through. It is hard enough for the big player ISV’s – harder for a little guy like me – and almost impossible for an SAP customer.

Whilst the big extensions, like the Oil & Gas example, will be sold and supported by SAP themselves those published on the Apps Centre are sold by the publisher – the CustPartner – directly to the customer.

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