Diginomica catch up with SUGEN to discuss SAP’s licensing, S/4HANA and more

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At the recent Sapphire Now 2018, Jon Reed from Diginomica sat down with members of the SUGEN leadership team, including UKISUG's Philip Adams, to discuss the latest issues facing SAP users, including licensing, S/4 HANA adoption and more.

Read an extract below and the full article over on Diginomica's site.

When SAP makes a big announcement, we’re not used to asking, “what does SUGEN think?” But that’s starting to change.

SUGEN, the global user group network representing more than 21 user groups globally, played an important role in brokering a compromise for the Enterprise Support fiasco in 2010.

Since then, SUGEN kept a low profile and was widely perceived as faded. With the peak of SAP’s indirect access controversies, SUGEN has reasserted itself. But this time around, they sound determined to remain a key voice in SAP customer advocacy.

SUGEN struck a candid tone on licensing at Sapphire Now a year ago, when I first interviewed SUGEN chairman Gianmaria Perancin. Unsatisfied with SAP’s inadequate indirect access clarification paper last June, SUGEN, along with DSAG (the German speaking user group) and ASUG (the North American SAP User Group), SUGEN sent a letter to SAP in the fall of 2017 requesting dialogue and resolution of indirect access customer concerns.

That dialogue led to SAP’s rollout of a new document-based pricing option in April that has been pretty well received by user groups – not as the final solution, but as a productive step in the right direction (I analyzed the role of user groups in my indirect access April review).

SUGEN isn’t done with this. They have continued to push SAP on what needs to happen next with licensing and indirect access (IA), something my colleague Den Howlett included in a couple of pieces leading up to Sapphire Now, including SAP Indirect Access new policies aid transparency, users remain uncertain.

So when I had the chance to meet with the SUGEN leadership team in Orlando, I seized it. However, I didn’t begin the conversation with licensing, for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to hear from SUGEN what the hottest issues were – and let them tell me how, and if, licensing issues fit in.
  2. With C/4HANA and the “intelligent enterprise” receiving a good deal of keynote attention, SUGEN’s take on SAP’s direction is a question worth asking.

The SUGEN leadership team members joining me were:

  • Gianmaria Perancin, SUGEN chairman – SAP French speaking user group (USF)
  • Rob van der Marck – SAP Dutch speaking user group (VNSG)
  • Philip Adams – UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG)
  • Grahame Reynolds – SAP Australian user group (SAUG)

The most important issue is… S/4HANA adoption

SUGEN doesn’t compel its members into one consensus voice, aside from the occasional public stance after a big SAP announcement. So, what’s the top issue of these SUGEN members? Is it the intelligent enterprise? Nope. As van der Marck told me:

"Actually for us, what is the most important is S/4HANA adoption."

That led us into a debate about how many of the 8.700 S/4HANA customers are live, and how many are "net dew". Perancin added:

"How many of the [live S/4HANA customers] are net new customers? How many of them have migrated? I think that that is a huge problem now. When we speak to our user groups, our users say to us, “I need to understand what is the experience in our country in order to move.” This means that still we are not moving to S/4HANA at the quick pace."

The success of SAP’s “intelligent enterprise” is directly tied to S/4HANA adoption. You can’t have one without the other. The intelligent enterprise is about raising the automation and analytical smarts of core S/4HANA (and C/4HANA) SAP applications via embedded algorithms and the consumption of AI services from Leonardo via the SAP cloud platform.

My colleague Phil Wainewright wrote in Only the cloud can deliver the intelligent enterprise that SAP has committed to the cloud as integral to the intelligent enterprise. Agreed, though I’d argue SAP has not yet excluded an on-premise S/4HANA environment from this vision.

However, older releases of SAP are not viable platforms to achieve this “intelligent” state. Yes, you could consume some external Leonardo apps, but the intelligent enterprise SAP envisions requires a real-time HANA nervous system.

Little wonder, then, that the SUGEN board is concerned about customers getting left behind. Van der Marck:

"It’s not the case that we can say, 'We’ve had S/4HANA, now we can continue with other stuff.' S/4HANA is not completed yet."

There is another twist for customers: ECC functionality had a pretty consistent scope from release to release, with gradual enhancements. But S/4HANA makes heavy use of SAP’s cloud acquisitions. Perancin:

"Sometimes I have the impression that the scope of S/4HANA is less than ECC because we have deported many of the processes of ECC into the [cloud] satellites."

So what does the migration process look like?

"Am I writing to the same scope? Or should I have other solutions to consider in order to cover the same thing that I covered in the past with ECC? This is something that we would love to work out."

And, bingo – the first mention of licensing: “And what does this mean from a licensing perspective as well?” The view from Australia is similar. Reynolds:

"The point I’m making is that even though S/4HANA is a fast adopter, a product that’s being adopted quickly in our marketplace, et cetera, one of the concerns of the members in Australia is making sure that people on older versions aren’t left behind."

Read the full article on Diginomica's site, and keep up to date with the latest SUGEN and SAP news through our Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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