Will SAP’s merger move have the X Factor for success?

In December last year, SAP moved to acquire SuccessFactors, which it claims will “significantly accelerate” its momentum as a provider of cloud applications, platforms and infrastructure. Asuming all goes as planned, this looks like good news for SAP: it would certainly be good news for SuccessFactors’ shareholders. But what about for us, SAP’s customers?

Reaction has so far been generally positive: for example, ZDNet stated that any eventual acquisition would provide “genuine innovation” to users immediately, rather than as a pipe dream. At the same time, the changes to the structure and increased sales pressure could create challenges. Others have questioned whether SAP should be concentrating on cloud scale or on humanising IT. Ultimately, it may be too early to tell.

From the wider business perspective, venture capital publications saw the proposed acquisition as a canny move that would strengthen SAP against its competitors. Other business press, and those they questioned, stated that it was a good day for the cloud. From this side, anything that makes SAP stronger would be good news for those of us that rely on its products and the same goes for the technology market in general.

Other publications linked the acquisition to the “relatively slow uptake” of Business by Design: it will certainly be interesting to see whether uptake changes in the wake of this news, and how. One thing’s for sure: the acquisition is certainly pushing ahead, as recent news shows.

Assuming the SuccessFactors acquisition goes ahead, the true judgement of its eventual impact will not be immediate. Essentially, this should be a positive move and we’d expect it to bolster SAP’s cloud credentials. However, we will need to wait and see what effect it might have on SAP’s future roadmap as well as the impact it has on new and existing customers before we reach any firm conclusion.

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2011: A year in review

2011 seemed to be a year where there were a number of significant global news events. While things weren’t quite so hectic in the world of SAP, there was still a fair amount to look back on:

In January, SAP posted its Q4 2010 results, and what results they were – a staggering €1.5 billion in software revenues, up 34% year-on-year. This was encouraging news for us as well as for SAP as a whole: after all, as we’ve always said, a strong SAP is best for SAP users.

In February, Gartner Highlighted five long-term trends that would affect the global enterprise software industry.  From our point of view, Business Intelligence and Supply Chain Management were the ones most likely to impact SAP users, particularly as Big Data and in-memory technologies such as HANA become more commonplace. Of course, these are both long-term trends so expect more from them in 2012!

March saw SAP announce a new road map of in-memory applications. As data gets bigger, we will inevitably need faster tools to use it properly: in-memory looks set to be vital for this.

In April, as well as royal wedding bells we heard SAP’s co-CEOs come out fighting in an FT interview. From a user’s perspective it was refreshing to see them confirm their commitment to keeping SAP an independent company, meaning less uncertainty on the fate on upcoming products and development.

In May, Forrester released figures showing that the ERP market was set to steadily grow. In particular, increasing numbers of organisations were looking to the cloud for their ERP access. However, whether this approach is right for everyone remains to be seen.

June revealed SAP’s revamped Customer Connection project for Continuous Improvement. The UK & Ireland User Group is one of four global user groups taking part in the project which should see users having much more of a voice in product development.

In July, research of User Group members showed that more than two-thirds were now using ERP 6.0. Doubtless this will grow as more users see the enhanced levels of functionality and support it can bring.

In August, some people were casting critical eyes over Business Intelligence in the cloud. While adoption may well increase, our view has always been that users should always use what’s right for them: whether that’s flying in the clouds or taking a more mixed approach.

SAP TechEd kicked off its world tour in September, beginning with Las Vegas. There was a particular focus on gamification this year, and it will be interesting to see how and if this develops as a way to encourage adoption of technology.

In October, the UK & Ireland SAP User Group announced its merger with the Business Objects User Group UK. It was a pleasure to welcome on board our BOUG colleagues and we’re looking forward to providing the best to all our members in 2012.

November brought about the 2011 UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference. Taking place in Birmingham, the conference was a rousing success: thanks again to all those who helped make it so, from volunteers to exhibitors to attendees, and we hope to see you all this year.

And so to December, when we saw SAP’s proposed acquisition of SuccessFactors. By acquiring SuccessFactors, SAP will make a strong statement of its intentions for the cloud in 2012 and beyond: it looks like we’ll be watching the skies a fair amount this year.

So, that was 2011: here’s hoping 2012 has more than its fair share of success for all of us.

Only 18 days until the conference

It is only 18 days to go until our annual conference – so you don’t have much time to book a place. Don’t delay – with hundreds of organisations present and with some organisations registering more than 20 attendees you can see it is popular.

With Steve Cram, Ray Wang, Oliver Bussman, Timo Elliot, and Steve Winter as Keynote speakers plus 8o exhibitors, multiple streams, many networking opportunities, including the welcome reception on Sunday and the Gala Dinner on Monday it really is a value for money event.

The good news is that there are still some spaces left so go to the conference website to register:

www.sapusers.org/conference2011

 

 

SaaS To The Future

This week, research by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group has shown that, overall, SAP Users are still positive about using cloud computing and SaaS. While the majority think that there is still too much hype around the cloud, 80% are planning a mix of on-demand, on-premise and on-device services in the future.

Of course, the key word here is “mix”: given the importance of a lot of the tasks we use SAP for, entrusting that data to the cloud will still be a step too far for some. All organisations will need to pay attention to exactly what applications they are using and what they are using them for, then balance the utility of the cloud with the reassurance of having full control over that particular service. At the same time, by moving 100% to a cloud-based model an organisation could leave itself wide open to the risk of a network failure rendering the whole business inoperable so mixed environments will, I suspect, be the norm for some time.

The growing popularity of the cloud doesn’t mean that the journey there will be plain sailing. For example, 58% of users said they lacked clarity over SAP’s cloud road map while 59% didn’t understand how to integrate SAP On-Demand modules with their existing implementations. It is issues like this where membership of the User Group can really come into its own. By sharing expertise and knowledge on how best to use modules such as On-Demand and taking advantage of the extra insight members can get into SAP’s product road maps, users can make better informed decisions and move more confidently towards a mixed SAP environment.

For more information on SaaS and the cloud, next month’s UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference will provide an excellent opportunity to share experiences and find out the latest product information. For further details, please visit http://www.sapusers.org/conference2011/

 

Will anything stop the march of mobile? And would we want it to?

Recently we’ve seen a great amount of news focused on the world of mobiles. While the launch of the iPhone 4S has attracted a lot of attention, yet more has been paid to the troubled iOS5 update and, above all, BlackBerry’s two quite disastrous outages. However, to me what this proves more than anything is the growing importance of mobility to today’s workforce. Even just a few years ago, outages such as these would have been an irritation to businesses: now they could be catastrophic.

As today’s workforce becomes increasingly mobile, so companies such as SAP are recognising that their customers need to access applications on the move.  Over the last 12 months SAP and its partners have started to release a number of mobile solutions, so that workers can access SAP on the go. Of course it is important for organisations to still be able to access on-premise systems : after all, what happens if the mobile network goes down as so extensively demonstrated by BlackBerry? Ultimately the ideal strategy for most organisations will be to support their workforce with a  combination of on-premise, on-demand and on-device applications.

One source of more information for those considering or using mobile SAP apps is this year’s UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference in Birmingham, where we’ll again be running a dedicated stream on mobile. For more information, don’t hesitate to visit http://www.sapusers.org/conference2011/ and keep an eye out for our soon to be released  User Group conference mobile app.

Final Chance for early bird rates for Conference

There are only two weeks left for early bird rates for the User Group Annual Conference so you need to act quickly – also if your suppliers are exhibiting there may be discounts that you can get through exhibitor codes that they can supply you.

The line up is nearly complete and we have large numbers of speakers, exhibitors and delegates ready to go, so get your places booked now.

www.sapusers.org/conference2011

 

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.