New Research from the User Group

New research released today by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group has revealed that 2 in 5 SAP BusinessObjects users believe that the technical support provided to them by SAP is not as good as that offered by other software vendors. 57% of SAP BusinessObjects users noted they had difficulties using SAP’s Service Market Place support portal, while 63% said it was difficult for them to search and find relevant support information. These findings demonstrate there still needs to be more engagement and collaboration between SAP and those customers using BusinessObjects. Indeed, the majority (87%) of SAP BusinessObjects users felt that being able to influence the future direction of the product would add value to their organisation.

The research did reveal that there has been a significant increase in existing SAP customers using BusinessObjects. 21% of users were now using SAP BusinessObjects, compared to only 7% last year. Furthermore, just over three quarters (76%) of users said they were now using the latest version of SAP’s core ERP business suite, ERP6.0, an increase from 69% the previous year, demonstrating that more members are realising the functionality and support benefits of upgrading to the latest release.

“These figures show that there is still work to do more when it comes to supporting and communicating with BusinessObjects users,” said Alan Bowling, chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group. “Now that UK SAP BusinessObjects users are part of our User Group we recognise that we have an important role in ensuring that they are able to effectively interact and influence SAP. As such we have been working closely with SAP’s customer experience team to make sure this happens. What is encouraging is that more existing SAP users are now starting to see the combined value of using BusinessObjects, which wasn’t necessarily the case last year.”

When it came to customers creating their own Customer Centres of Expertise (Customer CoE), just under a third (31%) of respondents said they had received certification recognising their commitment to the continuous improvement of their SAP operations. While this is more than double the number of CoE’ s compared to last year, it is clear that more education and clearer financial incentives are still needed to encourage users to create them.

The survey revealed that the ability to network with other SAP users, access customer experience and insight, and being able to advance their understanding of current SAP products and services continue to be biggest drivers for people to join the User Group. 80% of respondents also believed that the User Group had the right levels of influence over SAP when it came to getting users’ voices heard.

“Certainly over the last 12 months there have been a number of significant developments at SAP, with the release of HANA and the company’s expanded on demand and mobile offerings. While such developments are wholly positive, it is vital that users are educated about how exactly they will benefit, and how adopting such technologies will impact on their existing licensing agreements. It is here where the User Group can play a important role in working with SAP to ensure that our members are provided with all the necessary information to make an informed decision about their future requirements,” added Alan Bowling.

The user group surveyed 312 SAP user organisations and 96 BusinessObjects user organisations in the UK and Ireland. The UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference is taking place in Manchester 18-20 November 2012. For more information, please go to www.sapusers.org/conference2012

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Is Big Data big money?

SAP’s recently announced financial results, were generally very well received by the business community.  With revenues being boosted by growing customer demand for the company’s cloud and in-memory computing (HANA) offerings.   However, it was also interesting to read that some commentators were asking the question: is SAP trying to become more of a database company?

Undoubtedly SAP is dedicating a lot of resources to this area. It’s clear that SAP mean business, and is pouring vast resources into achieving this end goal. Important acquisitions have been made over the past couple of years such as Sybase, alongside a $337 million investment in the SAP HANA Adoption Program and a $155 million venture fund to spur development of applications compatible with HANA. Views on whether SAP will be able to achieve this gambit into the database market effectively range from the dismissive to the contemplative, but most see it as an interesting and achievable target that will provide value to customers. Ovum analyst Tony Baer describes the investments as a ‘logical first step’, but goes on to state that “SAP still has work to do to make its mark as a serious database contender” by solidifying its Big Data strategy to prove that HANA’s niche extends beyond turbocharging SAP Business Warehouse performance.

SAP has professed that Big Data, and the in-memory computing needed to successfully process it, is increasingly becoming the future of IT for many businesses. Ray Wang at Constellation Research who recently authored a  report on HANA, stating that overall, it is important for customers to avoid getting too distracted by vendor chest-beating, and instead they should seek to understand which use cases HANA is most suitable for right now.

At this stage this appears to be sensible advice. At the User Group we will be looking to provide you with all the latest updates and insights around HANA both through our SIGs and at the User Conference later this year.  So don’t miss out!