During his keynote at Sapphire Now this year, Hasso Plattner discussed plans to fit in-memory databases into customers’ existing landscapes. He referred to the initiative as “Enterprise 2.0″ and even went as far as to make the claim that it would be bigger than the release of SAP R/3.
Anyone who attended Sapphire this year saw the iPad everywhere. From Hasso Plattner’s keynote to the booths of vendors on the show floor, everyone wanted to demo their products on Apple’s newest gadget.
So I wasn’t surprised to see a gentleman who looked to be in his late 20′s in the row over from me using one on the plane ride home from Orlando. He showed his colleague and my boss some of its features. His colleague remarked, “I think this is the future. You’ll go into your boss’s office with one of these.” The iPad owner answered, “Ya, this is really game changing.”
I thought, did Bill McDermott plant this guy on the plane next to me? “Game changing” was a phrase he used over and over again at Sapphire, and has used in the months leading up to SAP’s big show. Mobility has changed the game, he told us. The new worker wants this. Enterprises need this.
And that’s exactly what those folks sitting on the plane were saying.
Much of SAP’s customer base is just starting to wrap their heads around the types of “knowledge worker” applications SAP’s talking about now mobilizing. Sure, pretty much everyone has their email on their BlackBerry, iPhone or Droid. And there are plenty of organizations that are doing very innovative things with mobile devices and have been doing so for years. But many are still trying to figure out how and why they would run ERP-related, SCM-related, etc… applications on a mobile device.
A conversation I had with a reporter on the bus to a Sapphire event backed up my hypothesis. She covers mobile exclusively, and therefore, goes to a lot of mobile-focused user conferences. She said she was somewhat surprised at how few people at this conference were mobilizing enterprise applications. Sure it’s cool, she said they told her, they just needed to figure out how it would work in practice.
The iPad could truly be where the rubber meets the road with this stuff.
My colleagues are I remarked several times this week about how the iPad is the perfect device for a lot of these functions. The size, weight, and user interfaces all lend itself well to mobilizing applications that are harder to manuever on a smartphone.
SAP’s faced a lot of criticism for being too late to the game with a lot of things – mobile applications among them.
But maybe it’s arriving just in time.
Overheard at EMC World this week — CEO Joe Tucci mentioned they’ll make some kind of Vblock/SAP announcement at Sapphire next week.
Sources say the Virtual Computing Environment Coalition (EMC, VMware and Cisco) will make an announcement about running SAP on its Vblock Infrastructure Packages. Vblocks are preconfigured bundles of servers, virtualization, networking and storage for enterprises that want to build private clouds.
There’s no point in moving to a private cloud if you can’t bring your applications with you, the sources said. This partnership is supposed to make it easier to run SAP applications on Vblocks.
I asked SAP about this, they told me to wait until next week for more information.
Yet, we can surmise that this is an effort to coax more customers into running private clouds, and a way for SAP to sell its Business Suite software in a “cloudier” model.
We learned this week that SuccessFactors landed a huge deal with Walmart for human resources-related applications.
First Siemens, now Walmart, who’s next, Oprah?
When SuccessFactors went public three years ago, it boasted two million users and 1,400 customers. The largest deployment was 85,000 seats, according to numbers provided by the company.
In three years, SuccessFactors now counts more than 8 million users, 3,300 customers and, with the Walmart deal, its largest implementation yet of 2.1 million users.
We all know the advantages of SaaS — low upfront costs, ongoing operating versus capital expense, ease of deployment, ease of use, lower administrative expenses, etc., etc., etc.
But something in particular stood out from my conversation with Success Factors CMO Paul Albright the other day. He said the company’s customers are negotiating discounts on the maintenance and support deals from their primary on-premise vendors, and spending the savings with SuccessFactors.
“Siemens renegotiated on maintenance, got that down substantially, and standardized its operating platform on SuccessFactors,” he said.
Those maintenance bills are supposed to be down payments on future product innovation. We know some customers aren’t buying that, or at least don’t think it’s worth the price SAP and Oracle are putting on it.
What’s more, they aren’t waiting around to see if it eventually will pay off.
SuccessFactors is riding this wave of dissatisfied customers who are looking to get more from their expensive enterprise applications. A growing majority of its deployments aren’t rip and replace deals of SAP HCM, or related modules in ERP, or PeopleSoft, Albright said. Customers integrate the software to aggregate the data in those systems and present it an interface that people want to use.
“We don’t see SAP as a competitor,” he said. “We see ourselves a complementary approach, extending the value of [the applications} and getting the data in those systems unlocked.”
SAP is working on loads of on-demand initiatives. And to be fair, its application portfolio promises to cover far more ground than SuccessFactors.
But you can’t buy what isn’t there, and the Walmarts of the world are less and less willing to wait.
When it comes to deploying cloud-based applications, security is often cited as one of the chief concerns.
But there may be one area in which deploying SaaS applications actually brings peace of mind when it comes to security – deploying applications on mobile devices.
Allowing employees to use mobile devices for work presents the very likely scenario that they will lose them, and the subsequent data breaches that could occur.
But with SaaS, data isn’t stored on the device.
SAP made another move aimed at bolstering its position in the sustainability software market today – announcing plans to acquire TechniData.
SAP was already partnering with TechniData to deliver a line of environment, health and safety applications. For instance, it sells an application for REACH compliance, a set of European Union regulations around the use of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing processes.
Which makes the TechniData acquisition somewhat of a surprising move, according to Ray Wang, a partner with the Altimeter Group. SAP didn’t really need to buy TechniData – it already had an OEM partnership, he said.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been coming up with plenty of digs against SAP lately — saying that the only place SAP’s beating them has been in the number of CEOs.
“Every quarter we grab huge chunks of market share from SAP,” Ellison said, according to StreetInsider.com. “SAP’s most recent quarter was the best quarter of their year, only down 15%, while Oracle’s application sales were up 21%. But SAP is well ahead of us in the number of CEOs for this year, announcing their third and fourth, while we only had one.”
But when it comes to customer engagement, SAP seems to have the upper hand.
You’ve likely seen or at least heard about this Suitemates ad campaign from Kinaxis – an on-demand supply chain software vendor. The premise is that the two big ERP vendors merge and then their CEOs wind up in jail. They’re called out for high maintenance fees and support issues. It’s evident that the vendor spent some money on these things — even hiring some name-brand actors and actually shooting some quality video to push these out on YouTube.
“Down with big” is a theme that’s playing out well with the public this year. Down with big government. Down with big bonuses. Why not, down with Big ERP?
In fact, Infor started running a campaign called just that in December – “Down with Big ERP.”
It’s a good time to carry that torch. There is growing evidence that single instance ERP is “no longer the holy grail” it was once, and the shift is on to a two-tier ERP strategy for some organizations, according to a blog post by Ray Wang.
We may not know exactly what the federal U.S. government’s latest plans are for banks, healthcare and the environment may, but one thing is clear: more regulation is on the way.
So it’s not surprising that SAP has been pushing its GRC software as of late, most recently holding a press roundtable inviting us to listen to how customers are using the software.
Many organizations are still using Microsoft SharePoint and a variety of manual checklists and documentation for compliance, according to reporting by SearchSAP.com contributor Chris Maxcer. But others have taken a more proactive approach moving beyond ensuring compliance to uncovering and avoiding risk by establishing a GRC strategy.
Case in point, all of the customers who participated in the roundtable discussion (Becton, Dickinson and Company, Pearson North America and Allegheny Energy) initially adopted SAP’s GRC software to ensure compliance with SOX. But once users figured out that the software really made things like ensuring segregation of duties easier, there was momentum for rollout of other modules.
SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said something during a press conference last week that hasn’t gotten too much attention – SAP’s goal is to reach 1 billion users.
Well, in order to do that, they have to get over one big hurdle — they have to provide a lot better user interface with a lot more end user tools to a lot more people. That’s according to the analysts on yesterday’s SAP JAM, a week-long series of Forrester webinars on SAP strategy.
Tackling this UI challenge hinges a lot on how SAP will handle its middleware strategy going forward. And in that light, a tighter relationship with Microsoft could be the answer.