Customers are concerned that, as SAP ramps up investment in new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), licensing will not keep pace with technical innovation.
The firm, whose history is rooted in back office resource planning software and databases, has spent the last few years encouraging its customers to adopt more from its growing cloud portfolio.
These have typically been its line-of-business applications, like Ariba or SuccessFactors, while more recently the focus has been on S/4 HANA; a suite of ERP tools that run on HANA, SAP's incredibly fast data-processing platform.
While the vast majority of SAP's 4,100 S/4 customers are currently on-premise, the potential of the technology is huge: thousands of devices (whatever they are) pinging the system if a product is ordered, ensuring the company's stock quantities are updated in real-time.
SAP's HANA Cloud Platform will underpin future IoT services, too, while its Asset Intelligence Network will act as a cloud platform for companies to collaborate together on the IoT.
Hala Zeine, SAP's senior vice-president of portfolio, gave an example of a connected fridge on stage at Connect 2016, the UK & Ireland SAP User Group's rebranded annual conference, last week.
In that example, a faulty fridge would ping its manufacturer with the exact details of the fault, prompting an automatic call out for an engineer equipped to fix the issue on-site.
The scenario was a neat illustration of the everyday potential of the IoT, but prompted the user group to ask who would pay the licensing fee: the manufacturer of the fridge, or the owner of the system it connects to?
"If that fridge has a sensor in it which talks to the backend system to say 'I've run out of fluid', then is that who's consuming that data [who is charged], or where's it being consumed?" Philip Adams, chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, said to IT Pro.
"Most of the usage in SAP tends to be user-based but they do have other metrics around revenue generation or data flows or processing power."
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Source: IT Pro