The UK & Ireland SAP User Group plans to develop a new charter to put pressure on the software giant to work with the partners and industry to better explain how customers can adopt its new technology portfolio.
SAP has made a number of acquisitions in recent years in the mobile (Sybase) and cloud (SuccessFactors) space, as well as innovated internally through the development of its in-memory platform, HANA.
However, many legacy customers operating on a traditional ERP stack still feel confused about how to migrate and integrate the new products being pushed by SAP – especially as they have a significant amount invested in licensing, maintenance and support with their current assets.
In recent years the user group has focused on simplifying licensing for SAP customers, but new chairman Philip Adams wants to start addressing easier adoption.
“Within the User Group Executive Network we are trying to establish a charter around adoption. I know the Dutch User Group care about that, so does the Indian User Group. So I reckon three or four of us will work on that with SAP to see what we can do,” Adams told Computerworld UK at the User Group conference in Birmingham this week.
“We will keep on the licensing thing, but I think adoption is where we will start working with them further. For any customer implementing any software, the licensing is the least amount of spend, it is the time and effort, the consulting, are always the biggest proportion of what you invest when you are putting in systems and supporting them long term.”
He added: “That's what people care about – they don't want a project lasting 10 months if it can last five, and the total cost of ownership over a long period has to be very low. And it has to work very well when you adopt it.”
Adams explained that he wants to work with other user groups to ensure that SAP has the right experts in each region to drive this adoption, where they can clearly detail the roadmaps for the whole portfolio so that customers can “make good decisions today and don't regret them tomorrow”.
Partners to play a role
Adams also believes that SAP needs to understand why it hasn't yet effectively communicated this to customers.
“There's a knowledge gap within SAP that they need to understand it. SAP have got the right products but the customers don't know how to get there, and SAP need to get under the skin of the various industries and customers to figure out where that gap is,” he said.
“[Driving adoption] is probably going to have to involve partners, consultants, the user group, and everybody else. I think the challenge that SAP has, as with any organisation when they expand their portfolio and their products, is that it's very hard for them to fill that gap for every customer. They will probably have to tap into the partner channel for some of that adoption.”
SAP has already recognised the need to use partners to generate the growth from its new products. It recently told partners at a conference in Barcelona that they were essential in achieving its ambition of becoming the number two database company in the world, with HANA.
Chano Fernandez, SAP's head of innovation sales in EMEA, told partners at the event: “There are a lot of opportunities for you. We cannot do this without you, you are key, you are essential for us in achieving our mission.”
Winning on licensing
On the licensing front, Adams told Computerworld UK that SAP has made a lot of progress in simplifying how customers can manage and switch licenses. This is evident from recent announcements that detailed how users can now switch existing on-premise licenses for different on-premise licenses, or for licenses in the cloud.
However, Adams hinted that customers can expect more good news next year.
“I didn't want to dwell on the licensing thing too much this year because I do believe we have made some progress. I think SAP are willing to move faster with us on it, but I do understand their issues,” said Adam.
“This isn't a UK issue to be honest, it's global. We are working directly with the head of global pricing at SAP and I do feel the pain that he has because he's got all these old contracts to deal with and with the acquisitions they have made they have inherited all of these terms and conditions from other products. It's a minefield.”
He added: “But they are working on the simplification, which we will hear more about in the early quarter of next year.”