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SAP after Sapphire: A look ahead

Chris Kanaracus | June 9, 2014
As software vendors tend to do during their big annual user conferences, SAP made a lot of promises to customers this week at Sapphire. The overarching theme was a desire to make SAP's software simpler and its customers' lives easier.

In a time of exploding usage of mobile devices and the Internet of Things, the omission seemed somewhat odd. But one explanation may be that SAP's recently appointed global head of mobility, Rick Costanzo, is still cooking up his strategy plans. It's likely SAP will make significant noise about mobility later this year.

The simple truth

Sapphire provided plenty of evidence that SAP "knows they have to disrupt themselves in order to make it to the next level," Wang said. "There is an understanding of what a road map may look like. But a lot of the pieces of the puzzle need to be developed. There's massive change ahead and they've got to invest quickly for that level of change."

"SAP's commitment to simplicity feels more real than previous attempts — it does have legs (and Hasso's backing)," Martens said. "Firms who've successfully adopted cloud applications tend to talk about how preparing for that move forced them to question and re-imagine their business processes, often paring down vast amounts of customization — it feels like SAP itself has finally gotten that message."

But SAP's promise of simplicity has to go beyond the software itself, Martens added.

It could benefit "from having one or two simplicity ombudspeople or complexity czars — one or two people at C-level whose entire function is ensuring (and guaranteeing) simplicity for SAP customers," she said. "Not only in the new software, but how to get from the old, complex stuff to the new stuff, and also the entire customer experience, particularly pricing."

The Fiori saga is an instructive one to consider, in Martens' view. It "felt like déjà vu all over again," she said, referring to the flap several years ago over an unpopular support fee hike. "SAP puts something out, users don't like it, SAP holds fast and then eventually listens and changes," Martens said. "Doesn't that speak to the company still not listening sufficiently to its customers?"


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