SAP UK & Ireland User Group chairman Alan Bowling has called on business software maker SAP to continue to focus on customer engagement and communication.
Historically, it has been too complex and difficult for the group’s members to get rapidly involved, he told attendees of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference 2011 in Birmingham.
Even though SAP has supplemented the customer councils and customer engagement initiative with the new customer connection programme, more work needs to be done, said Bowling.
“At a very basic level, trying to register for the programme is fraught with challenges,” he said.
While the objective and intent are clearly right, said Bowling, the execution is just not there yet and the process remains far too complex.
The user group has relayed these concerns to SAP, both directly and through the SAP User Group Executive Network (Sugen).
“We look forward to this feedback being taken on board, and the programme becoming more usable,” said Bowling.
While SAP is strong at bringing to market “fantastic” technology, he said, it is not so strong in communication, and while the company is starting to address this weakness, SAP must go further down the path of becoming more customer-centric.
Bowling also tackled SAP on the issue of licensing, saying a year ago he called for greater clarity and transparency around pricing and licensing from SAP, but instead complexity appears to be increasing.
Research shows that 80% of organisations expect their SAP implementations to be a mixture of on-premise, on-demand and on-device services in the future, in line with SAP strategy.
However, Bowling said that although this shows users are finding new ways to benefit from and use SAP, as this hybrid approach becomes a reality, licensing could become a nightmare unless clarity and simplicity are achieved.
“I would not be surprised if licensing concerns were at the top of the list of reasons that led 59% of respondents to our survey to say they did not understand how to upgrade to or integrate SAP On-Demand modules,” he said.
In these times of austerity and changing models of IT delivery, said Bowling, customers have to prioritise licence management, but to do this, they need simplicity, not complexity.
For this reason, Sugen is in discussions with SAP about greater transparency and flexible licensing, particularly on how licensing should work for HANA and mobile, he said.
Bowling praised SAP for engaging with users on the topic of licensing and for its announcement in October of support for ERP 6.0 and Business Suite 7 through to 2020.
“It gives us predictability which, in a world that seems to changing by the minute, is invaluable. This really was a smart move by SAP, as it means those customers who have not yet moved to ERP now have more incentive to do so. It also makes it much easier for us as customers to invest further in new SAP modules,” he said.
This year has seen a marked improvement in the relationship between the user group and SAP locally, said Bowling, noting that relationships go through many phases.
“We’ve had the storming, been through the norming and are starting on the forming. This is good news and I look forward to further advances in the next 12 months,” Bowling concluded.