SAP’s co-CEOs come out fighting

It was interesting to read the FT over the weekend, which featured a joint interview with SAP’s co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott http://on.ft.com/ftBX8I.  Both seemed to be in a bullish mood when it came to the future fortunes of the company.

It was encouraging to hear that they were vowing to keep SAP independent, in light of recent acquisition speculation.  For SAP users this is good news, as such rumours can always bring uncertainty when it comes to planning future deployments.  Quashing the rumours now
should hopefully help instil greater user confidence.

Certainly, SAP’s financial performance has improved since both Jim and Bill took the reins just over 12 months ago.  Alongside that has been their promise to get closer to their customers, something they have by and large done to date: for example, with Jim Snabe’s participation at last year’s User Conference.  We hope that improved financial performance and customer engagement continue to go hand in hand going forward, as undoubtedly a strong SAP is good for the entire user community.

Another snippet that came out from the interview was that SAP is planning to use next month’s Sapphire conference to unveil its latest
mobile applications following the acquisition of Sybase last year.  It will be interesting to see what is unveiled, as without a doubt mobility is becoming increasingly important for a lot of organisations.  We are actually planning to survey our members later in the year regarding their mobile strategy, so look for further details as to how you can get involved in the coming months.

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New YouTube videos added

If you missed last years conference and you are considering attending this year then have a look at some of the keynote speaker videos that we have added to our User Group Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/UKISUG . Some very worthwhile clips –  SUGEN describing the Enterprise Support issues, Jim Snabe detailing SAP’s strategy and Sahar Hashemi sharing her road to success. As ever we’ll try to better what I think was an excellent line up in this years conference in Birmingham in November. http://www.sapusers.org/conference2011 . Don’t leave it too late as we have a finite capacity and already a large number have booked to guarantee a place.

Managing the risk

Increasingly a lot of organisations are having to take serious measures around Governance, Risk Management and Compliance: after all the stakes, risks and rewards (or punishments) of doing business seem to get more serious every year. In this light, SAP’s launch of its next-generation GRC software could be very well timed (http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2011/03/23/246027/SAP-combines-GRC-and-BI-in-new-platform.htm).

GRC as it stands is still far from a smooth process. Misunderstandings and frustrations are rife, with some organisations still seeing such rules as simply a means to stifle their operations. Indeed, research last year suggested that UK enterprises suffer 510 person-hours a year in lost productivity thanks to ineffective or inefficient GRC controls (http://boardroom.cbronline.com/news/poor-grc-initiatives-cost-revenue-stifle-innovation-survey-291110). Yet the risks of not following these regulations are greater. Regardless of the fines and loss of reputation that can result, there is also the increased risk to security and the business that can result from not having adequate control.

With this in mind, perhaps one significant claim of SAP’s next-generation GRC is its apparent ease of use: by unifying GRC capabilities and maximising visibility in one place, organisations should begin to see GRC as much less of a chore. At the same time it will free up their time for other, related activities such as educating employees. Considering that last year’s research also showed that in 69% of enterprises, workers will temporarily share their IT logins and passwords with co-workers without approval, there still seems to be a way to go.

The next-generation GRC software isn’t a magic bullet that will automatically solve GRC issues for SAP users, but it should help. As always though it is important that workforces are trained to reduce risks, that organisations aren’t leaving huge vulnerabilities in their processes and that IT teams aren’t simply attempting to paper over any cracks.