A look back at SapphireNow 2011:

A week has now passed since SAP’s SapphireNow event took place inOrlando.  So I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what news and views came out from the event.

Certainly one of the main focuses at SapphireNow was on HANA.  Speaking at the event SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka, said “HANA is the foundation of our renewal, the technology at the root of our innovation.”  There were also a number of customer testimonials with global companies touting its value, ease of deployment and low cost of ownership.  Tom Greene, CIO of Colgate-Palmolive cited savings in time with queries going from 77 minutes to 15 seconds – which are certainly impressive figures!  While the analyst community has generally been positive towards SAP and in-memory computing, Thomas Otter at Gartner did have one note of caution as he tweeted during the event “SAP is basically betting the business on HANA”, so it is important to users of all sizes that it is a success.

In addition to HANA, there were also further updates on the integration of Sybase’s technology.  At SapphireNow, SAP demonstrated how it was using Sybase’s infrastructure to help companies connect the mobile platform with the enterprise system.  Furthermore, SAP also demonstrated how companies could build applications on top of the Sybase platform using a software development kit.  Speaking to the FT, co-CEO Jim Snabe, said “we believe that the mobile use cases will be a lot more customer specific then the normal standard software.”  It is certainly encouraging to hear that SAP realises that especially in the mobile field a “one size fits all” approach won’t work for most customers.

Overall, SapphireNow didn’t necessarily throw up too many surprises but it did seem to provide users with greater reassurance regarding SAP’s future plans.  Blogging on ZDNet, Dennis Howlett, commented “I sense the company is becoming comfortable with itself and is both clearer and more certain where it and its customers’ futures lay. There wasn’t the foreboding of forced march upgrades, wildly disruptive change – although disruption is never far away.”

Both Craig Dale and Mike Dean from the User Group were in Orlando, so over the coming weeks and months they will be feeding back their first hand experience on the event to our members.

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ERP on the up?

Figures from Forrester released last week are forecasting that the ERP market will continue to steadily grow and that organisations are being presented with more options than ever before in how exactly they want to deploy it http://enterpriseapplications.cbronline.com/news/erp-market-to-grow-to-503bn-in-2015-forrester-060511. Certainly this seems to ring true for SAP users.

A growing market demonstrates more confidence in the technology and a greater incentive for software providers to continue to innovate. A particularly interesting statistic from Forrester is the growth in Software as a Service and managed cloud offerings. With growth of 21%  annually forecast through 2015, it seems that many more organisations will be looking to the benefits of the cloud for ERP: for example, lower up-front costs and the attractiveness of an on-demand service model.

Of course, this growth doesn’t mean that the cloud is right for everyone.  As with anything to do with ERP, organisations need to decide which action best benefits their business processes: balancing risks, costs and everyday practicality in order to decide if a process is safe in the cloud or belongs in-house. I’d suspect that most organisations will choose a hybrid approach, placing some processes in the cloud and keeping others firmly on-premises. Of course, as cloud services evolve and improve the balance will doubtless change but in the meantime users should investigate the options and choose what’s best for them.

We’ll then see in four years’ time whether Forrester’s predictions are correct!

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