SAP Watch

Oct 2 2010   4:24PM GMT

For SAP users, when will on-demand really be in-demand?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

This past week, I had the opportunity to speak with Andreas Oczko, DSAG Executive Board Member, department operations/service and support. DSAG is the SAP user group for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

I was interested to hear what DSAG thought about SAP’s strategy.

DSAG has made its share of headlines for its criticism of SAP over the Enterprise Support affair. With that issue muted (thanks to SAP’s introduction of a tiered maintenance and support model), I was curious what DSAG considered to be the most important initiatives for the upcoming year.

Right now, he said, they’re focused on working with SAP on future software developments.

My mind readied to type the phrase I hear over and over again — on-demand, on-premise, on-device.

But Oczko instead pointed to something termed “continuous improvements.” This is SAP’s plan to pinpoint where some of the pain points are for customers and deliver a fast solution that doesn’t involve an upgrade, applying a support pack or enhancement package. For example, say there’s a simple problem where every time a button is pressed, a screen appears that doesn’t fit your needs. You have to build a workaround. This is a problem that is probably relevant for many customers, and doesn’t necessarily need to be fixed with a support pack or an upgrade or an enhancement package. It could be delivered in an OSS note that details the code you need to fix it.

Simple. It brings a great development into your landscape — it solves a current problem, he said. These types of problems will be relayed to SAP through the user groups.

What about on-demand, on-premise, on-device? I thought.

SAP’s user base is focused on solving short-term, quick win problems, Oczko said. Sure, the user base is interested in the efforts to develop mobile and on-demand applications, but the actual adoption of those is probably at least a couple of years out, Oczko said.

It was interesting to hear that in juxtaposition with the SAP-related headline in the Wall Street Journal this week — “SAP’s Business ByDesign software struggles to get off the ground.” The subhead was — “Giant’s effort to sell software as an online service has been slow to catch on.”

Considering Business ByDesign was just released to the general market in July, “slow to catch on,” isn’t really fair. But what I think the Wall Street Journal is trying to point out is that exactly who’s going to buy Business ByDesign hasn’t really crystallized yet. I myself have heard lots of different user scenarios, from the targeted, standalone small to medium-sized customers, deployments at subsidiaries and even companies replacing an older SAP ERP system with it.

Comments like those from DSAG’s board member enlighten us as to some of the reasons why efforts like Business ByDesign may continue to be slow to catch on. Many users are focused on solving some practical issues right now with the technologies they have in place, and it may be a while before they look to newer technologies for help.

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