New CEO brings changes…..why are people acting surprised?

So in the next couple of weeks a new CEO brings a lot of management changes at SAP. But what is all the surprise and concern all about in the press?

A change  at the top always brings change to any organisation, so why should any change at SAP be expected to be any different? What is important is what does that change bring and how does it effect all the stakeholders. Let’s analyse what we know. From my perspective as one of SAP’s customers – change is only a concern if it brings change that impacts them adversely. As a customer those are things like higher costs, lower service, lower quality and directions that generate conflict with their individual business direction and strategy.

Costs – as an existing customer are they seeing increases?  At first you might think not, but actually yes a lot of them are with the gradual increase to Enterprise and Standard support – but this has been in place since 2008 and can’t be pinned on the new singular CEO as this started before his reign. In fact he has publicly stated that he has to effect change without impacting his loyal customer base – but maybe he should effect change by impacting customers and stopping any further rises now – that would be perceived as a positive gesture by the loyal base.

Lower service? Already SAP offer an SLA for Severity 1 support activities – as far as I know, still the only software vendor to do that – and certainly the only one to offer a full suite of products support organisation in their singular AGS team. In fact with the Customer connection program a further strengthening of the support offerings. Will a new CEO change that? Wouldn’t have thought so given how that immediately touches existing customers and with nothing to indicate so, as the solid leadership in this area remains active and intact.

Quality lower? Not aware of any immediate indication of that, and in very simple terms – those that are there today who do the delivery of products and services remain in place. Lay-offs in this cadre of the organisation isn’t apparent and certainly isn’t on the cards at the moment – in fact with the new CEO moving with family to the heart of the operation in Germany (not an insignificant undertaking) a sign to the contrary at this stage.

Change in direction? Well actually there is change in direction – but this isn’t a surprise, mobile, cloud and in memory. This is not new it started with Sybase, and was complemented by Successfactors, Hana and Ariba over a number of years – what is new is the increased determination to deliver this direction, but again a clear statement not at the expense of the existing customer base. That reflects an awareness of the way these directions can be adopted by customers – that in the new cloud and mobile based era we live in,  the whole premise is easy adoption and an almost seamless connectivity of business processes, whilst maintaining options for flexibility, scalability and rate of adoption.

For the new CEO there is a challenge – what differentiates SAP from it’s competitors? The reality, in all the areas there are competitors, the “me-too” products are out there.

I would offer some thoughts. To succeed a business needs to offer difference that it’s customers want and can digest. For any customer to improve its market positioning there are only three things a business can do, cost less, sell more or charge more. In today’s competitive market to charge more is just not an option anymore (even Apple are realising that) so that leaves cost less and sell more. So any offering from anybody offering something, be it software or food products has to entertain those two deliverables. A great example here is the current rumblings of, in fact, food retailing in the UK marketplace so long the domain of the big 5 retailers, where the new upstarts of Aldi, Lidl and Netto are costing less and selling more and more, disrupting the market place in a way that has permanent benefits for them and their new customers. Even Apple have looked inwardly and done the same with the two versions of their series 5 iPhone to try to safeguard their market position.

At the end of the day the choice will come down to the leadership within SAP and the decisions they make – let’s hope they make the correct ones!

Going Mobile

At Mobile World Congress last month in Barcelona, SAP made a number of announcements concerning mobility.  Here is a roundup of some of the notable ones:

SAP announced the launch of its new Mobile Documents app, an enterprise-level app which gives users a single point of access to files and file-sharing capability from any mobile device. When combined with SAP Afaria for mobile device management, it promises to provide businesses with a complete system for securing mobile devices, apps and content.

In addition, SAP also announced a new partnership with Ericsson, which aims to jointly market and sell their cloud-based, Machine to Machine (M2M) solutions and services to enterprises through operators. The aim is to help enhance enterprise efficiency in business processes such as maintenance, remote service, inventory, logistics and road transport management, vending and customer experience management. Clare McCarthy at Ovum noted that, “The solution already has endorsements from Telenor and 3UK, so it is clearly fulfilling a market need.”

SAP even went as far integrating its take on Near Field Communications (NFC) technology into a vending machine to show how users can purchase soft drinks with NFC-compliant devices. Indeed it seems like we have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes what we can do with mobile applications!

Mobility will again be a big topic at this year’s User Group Conference, so make sure you sign up to take advantage of the current early bird offers.

SAP announce roadmap for on-premise (Business Suite)

Today SAP announced the following:

http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/press/newsroom/press-releases/press.epx?pressid=17590

For the first time all the User Groups in SUGEN were given early warning of this announcement, which is further evidence of SAP listening to the customers – my take on the announcement:

– For some time we have been saying we need transparency over a longer window so that we can plan our business first and then solutions to support them second. This announcement shows they have heard that message.

– We have also spoken many times about business disruption and diversion that system change/upgrade can give – this approach reduces that for us.

– We often want bits of innovation, not all of it, our appetite and pockets can’t support all of it. This solution also lets us be selective, gives us choice, something we all have been asking about.

– Cloud, mobile and/or HANA, not a problem – I will be able to take advantage of these.

As ever the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but on first pass this looks all in the right direction.

 

 

 

Why would you pay £1299 for an SAP related event when you can pay £500 or less for ours?

Other SAP and Business Objects related events in the UK & Ireland cost more than ours. That’s a fact! Compared to another event in October…..in fact it doesn’t stop there! Ours has better speakers. Actually 7 times more speakers, and 4 times more streams, and runs over 2 and half days not 2 days.  It covers much more in terms of topics and is the best place to network of all the SAP events in the UK & Ireland, and includes a gala dinner for that very reason.

So if you want value, treasure an independent view of all things SAP, and need to learn and improve your SAP network, don’t waste money and spend it where it counts.

See our conference website for details.

Conference bookings up 20% on this time last year!

Check out the conference website.  Already you’ll see an impressive list of speakers being assembled and we intend to announce shortly a further keynote attendee very much matching the theme of this years conference.

It’s heartening to see that already we have 20% more bookings for the conference than at this time last year so thank you to all those that have booked already, and especially to the organisation that has booked 24 places as a single booking!  In second place are several bookings greater than 10. Can anyone beat that?

Serious value and content, relevant to all levels within the enterprise. Users at all levels, CIOs, CTOs, IT Directors, Managers, Architects, Programmers, Business Heads, Business Analysts, and Business Users will all find content relevant and valuable at this conference – make sure you don’t miss out on the UK & Ireland’s premier event for SAP.

PS: Useless fact of the day – we still need organisations beginning with J, Q and X to complete the alphabet!

More than two thirds of UK SAP users now using ERP 6.0

However, survey reveals that user adoption of SAP BusinessObjects is still slow

 London – 25 July 2011 – New research released today by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group has revealed that more than two thirds of organisations (69%) are now using the latest version of SAP’s core ERP business suite, ERP 6.0, with a further 22% still using the older R3 4.7 platform. However only 7% of SAP users said they were currently using SAP BusinessObjects, showing that SAP still has work to do convincing users to adopt what is now its flagship business intelligence product.

“It is encouraging to see that so many SAP users are moving to ERP 6.0,” said Alan Bowling, chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group. “Here at the User Group we have highlighted the potential benefits of upgrading to ERP 6.0, such as enhanced levels of functionality and support. Indeed, we have seen many users come to us who see the need to upgrade but require advice and support on the best way to migrate. However, the figures also show that there is still a lot of work to be done by both SAP and the User Group to demonstrate to users the potential combined value of using SAP BusinessObjects.”

The survey of UK & Ireland SAP User Group members revealed that ability to network with other SAP users, gain customer access to customer insight and being able to advance their understanding of current SAP products and services continued to be biggest drivers to join the User Group. 78% of respondents also believed that the User Group had the right levels of influence over SAP when it came to getting users’ voices heard.

The research also went on to look at member’s usage of SAP’s current support offerings. Of those surveyed, over two-thirds (67%) are now on the Enterprise Support offering, compared to 11% on the recently re-introduced Standard Support. While the cost of Enterprise Support will rise this year, increasing the gap between the two support options to more than 1%, these figures seem to show that it is currently the favoured option in the majority of organisations.

The research also revealed that SAP has a lot of progress to make in encouraging organisations to create Customer Centres of Expertise (Customer CoE). Only 14% of respondents said they had certification granted by SAP recognising their organisations’ commitment to continuous improvement of SAP operations. The relatively low number of CoEs may be due to a lack of understanding of the benefits and the lack of a clear financial incentive to take part in the certification process.

“It will certainly be interesting to see how many customers stay on Enterprise Support when the next set of price rises comes into effect in the next year. With this in mind we will be making sure our members are provided with all the information they need to make an informed decision about their support requirements. As such we have just run a dedicated support event to help address this,” continued Alan Bowling. “The survey results also highlight that SAP could still be doing a lot more to help educate its users about the benefits of the products and services it offers. It is here we see the User Group providing continued value to organisations, through our Special Interest Groups and annual User Conference, both of which were seen by members as highly beneficial to them.”

The survey questioned 204 SAP user organisations in the UK and Ireland, providing a snapshot of the products and support services that SAP users are currently working with. The UK & Ireland SAPUser Group Conference 2011 is taking place in Birmingham, 20-22 November 2011. For more information, please go to http://www.sapusers.org/conference 2011

 

 

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About UK & Ireland SAP User Group

The UK & Ireland SAP User Group’s membership is open to users of SAP products in theUKandIreland.  Membership consists of organisations of all sizes and includes some of the largest private companies and significant public sector organisations in theUKandIreland.

 

If you would like further information regarding the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, please visit http://www.sapusers.org

 

Big ROI for BI?

With the Business Intelligence tools market growing by almost 13% in 2010, and generating total revenues of over $4bn in the second half of the year alone, BI vendors might well think that they’re entering something of a golden age (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110627005197/en/IDCs-Worldwide-Business-Intelligence-Tools-Tracker-Finds). The market doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon: with the Big Data era apparently upon us and the financial climate meaning businesses need to squeeze the last drops of value out of every asset they possess it’s only natural that organisations will keep looking to BI tools to help make the most out of their resources.

At the same time, Big Data means that we will also see the BI market evolve: as well as the front-end tools themselves, organisations will need stronger back-end systems to deal with the huge amount of information required. As a result, we can expect in-memory tools such as SAP’s HANA to add to BI revenues from 2011 onwards.

However, with this growing market there is one statistic that I’d be much more interested in seeing. IDC is just the latest to show us exactly how much is being spent on BI, which is great news for the vendors. However, it would also be useful to see exactly what the return on investment of these tools is. Admittedly it may be more complicated to study, but I believe it makes a crucial difference if organisations can see this.

BI isn’t exactly going away and only very confident (for want of another word) organisations would say they can do without it entirely. Yet at the same time we need to see more information on what exactly we can expect from BI and how soon we will see a return, rather than simply how much we’re spending on it.