There are a 100 days until the General election in the UK……..

As the political parties start their campaigns in earnest what is probably the most unpredictable Election campaign in the history of the UK is just 100 days away. In the last election, 5 years ago, Social Media had just started and the first iPhones and iPads were in use.

So how will technology be used in this election? Well without doubt it will be a mainstay of the political parties attempts to bombard each and every one of us with “facts” designed to steer us one way or another, but it seems to me that in this era of “Apps” we are missing one that allows us to filter the huge amounts of data out there. There are multiple organisations offering us ways of compare providers of insurance, energy etc. So why can’t we have a an independent provider to give us “comparethepoliticalparty.com” or “politicians4u”?

All the data exists – such as the number of times they have attended parliament, how often they have voted, what they have voted for, what expenses they have claimed, what real-life experience other than politics they have. For parties we could have economic performance, tax rates, education performance, health service stats, crime stats and so on.

And with bio-metrics in passports and driving licences, and smartphones with contactless payment, as well as debit cards, why do we use bits of paper to vote still?

It all seems rather strange that this area is still behaving like this but perhaps this is a reflection of the politicians themselves, still living in a time long past and within an environment that is rapidly being bypassed by the social media. Politicians are losing their power through the power of mass independent campaigns initiated simply and easily by like-minded individuals.

So perhaps technology is actually bringing the power back to the people and traditional politicians are under threat like never before. Let’s hope that we can actually filter the facts and hence truth from the mass of “data”.

We shall see in 100 days time.

 

 

SAP unveils the future…….

An interesting couple of days at SAP SELECT in Berlin. An event where Hasso Plattner, and Bill McDermott unveiled the latest set of solutions. S-Innovations or the simple set of business functional areas represent a completely redesigned set of enterprise functionality designed to exploit the full potential of HANA. What was quite astounding was the way this technology changes the rules for how IT is run, and at the same time throws away the rule book for businesses.

Firstly imagine an enterprise IT system where that data compresses from 1TB to 9GB, runs on a single server, has almost instant response time, where data updates no longer take place, where records can’t lock and batch jobs no longer exist. As the data doesn’t change then development and testing take a completely different path. That is pretty remarkable!

But it’s what that means that is so important – as everything is a calculation on the fly – how you work can change, dramatically. So to work out sales and see profit – instantaneous or nearly so – a press of a button. So as long as the actions have taken place – billing, cash movements, payments, stock entries etc. – you have your financial position. So period ends become simply a different date filter selection. And then of course you can execute simulations of business changes with the live data, as these won’t change the data – just the result you see.

With billions of connected devices, the internet of things, with this type of capability collecting and using the data directly from many more billions of sensors in them becomes practical in your enterprise system.

Is this a fairy tale, a story of slide ware, of future technology? No, it is here now, and only those who take the journey of investment early will capture the real benefits of this scenario where early adopters really will prosper.

Hopefully more news around this at our 2014 Conference in 7 days time.

 

 

Today is Remembrance Sunday – we will remember them

Memory

 

It is so important we do not forget the sacrifices of servicemen and women and civilians in times of conflict. It is even more important that we make sure the younger do not forget either, parts of the world that have not witnessed conflict of this size can never understand. Conflict must cease, it is such a waste.

Ex SAP CTO becomes CEO of Infosys

So how often does a CTO become CEO? Well not often it would seem in the case of SAP.

On 4 May 2014 Dr. Vishal Sikka, Executive Board Member for Products and Innovation, announced his departure from the Executive Board for personal reasons, effective immediately….and just 39 days later it was announced that Vishal becomes CEO of Infosys from August 1st.  It had been mooted that Vishal was a future SAP CEO in the making.

Back in 2007 another rising star Shai Agassi, also responsible for technology and execution at SAP and also mooted to be next in line to head SAP  departed suddenly following the extension of the then current CEO  Henning Kaggerman.

So the moral of the story is …if you want to be CEO of SAP don’t come through the technology and innovation route!

 

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!

The new User Group blog

As you may know my tenure as chairman of the UK & Ireland User Group recently ended with the ‘baton’ now in the capable hands of Philip Adams.  While I will remain heavily involved with the User Group and will continue to blog here on the Sapusers blog (when time allows!), I heartily recommend you check out the new User Group blog.

The new blog will be the place to find all the latest User Group news and updates about the 2013 User Conference, which promises to be our best yet!

2012: A year in review

2012 was another busy year for SAP with further acquisition activity and a number of new product updates being brought to market.  So here is a brief look back at some of the key goings on in the world of SAP over the last 12 months.

In February, SAP’s offer for SuccessFactors was accepted in full. This undoubtedly raised the company’s cloud credentials, but as our recent member survey revealed many users still aren’t clear how the acquisition will benefit their business.

In March SAP unveiled a partnership with Samsung to make its Android devices safer to use as corporate tools.  At the same time the company also announced updates to its Afaria mobile systems management tool – good news for customers who are becoming increasingly mobile.

April saw SAP celebrate its 40th birthday.  What began as a five-man operation is now one of the world’s largest independent software providers!

June saw SAP announcing its intention to buy cloud-based B2B trading network, Ariba.  The acquisition stands to vastly extend SAP’s network of integratable supplier systems, but also complement the company’s cloud strategy. In 2013 we wait to see what this really means for end-users.

In July, SAP announced a stronger-than-expected rise in profits driven by a rise in software sales, with the growing customer demand for cloud solutions being cited as a big reason for this success.

October saw the User Group release the results of our member survey on licensing, which showed a staggering 95% of SAP users believe that the company’s software licensing policy is overly complicated. In 2013 we will  continue to engage with SAP on what is a challenging topic for all concerned

And finally, November brought about the 2012 UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference. Taking place in Manchester, licensing, mobility and the cloud were some of the big themes covered over the course of the 2 ½ day event. The conference was a great success, and we are already looking forwards to this year’s event in Birmingham.

We are only a couple of weeks into 2013 and it is already looking like it will be another busy 12 months for all things SAP. In addition, this year also sees the 25th anniversary of the UK & Ireland User Group J

Here is to a successful and prosperous 2013!