It's no exaggeration to say that SAP's CRM On Demand debut last year was rather lackluster. But now it seems SAP has made a 180 degree turn, going from "Bah!" to "Wow!" in just a year. It's kind of like how Microsoft went from dismissing this Internet-thing as a fad to declaring itself its patron saint with a snap of its fingers. Nicholas Carr summed up the transformation fairly neatly in his recent blog post, SAP CEO calls SaaS "the better model".
In a nutshell, SAP is going all Gung Ho with its new A1S On Demand suite, expected to launch by the end of 2007. However, fellow blogger Vinnie Mirchandani points out that this is primarily applicable for small customers — not the big boys that traditionally make up SAP's customer backbone.
That makes a lot of sense. Businesses too big for BusinessOne but too small for All-in-One can't throw big bucks around on upgrades or keep an army of highly skilled SAP experts on staff. Paying a certain premium for the basic functionality of an SAP ERP suite with a fraction of the hassle allows these guys to focus on what really matters. By contrast, applying this to a megasized multinational firm with 50,000 users worldwide doesn't sound like that hot of an idea.
Dan Farber weighed in with some good points about overlapping products; a step-by-step approach based on size makes perfect sense in theory, but what about the company that strikes luck and rapidly grows from say 100 employees to 500? Or not so rapidly for that matter, where years of working with and tweaking one solution makes the transition all the more painful if there is no natural upgrade path?
As always, it's hard to predict the future when all you have is powerpoint slides and grandiose presentations. A1S might blow us away, or it could be another underwhelming experience a la CRM On Demand. And perhaps there are additional tricks up SAP's sleeve; that mighty jump to 100,000 customers by 2010 has to come from somewhere. Let's hope Sapphire in Atlanta gives us some additional clues on this development next month. Also, don't miss our sister site SearchOracle.com's take on the matter here.