SAP users need more clarity on latest cloud, mobile and BI efforts

SAP customers continue to express confusion about the supplier’s more advanced initiatives, including cloud migration and recent acquisitions

SAP customers in the UK and Ireland remain confused about the supplier’s latest initiatives, including cloud migration and recent acquisitions.

Research by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, released at its annual conference held in Manchester, showed 58% of SAP users felt the company was not making it attractive enough for on-premise customers to migrate to the cloud. Moreover, 80% of users admitted to not understanding how to upgrade to or integrate SAP’s on-demand cloud modules with their existing SAP implementations.

Alan Bowling, outgoing chairman of the user group said: “We are now at the point where the benefits of cloud are well understood; however, what we as users need is simple and cost-effective deployment strategies. At the same time users want to see how SAP’s recent acquisitions in the cloud space could benefit their organisations. Our figures show that currently the majority of users don’t understand how the acquisitions of Ariba and SuccessFactors will benefit them.

“What do those acquisitions mean for SAP’s existing customer base? Many of our members are using on-premise to deliver that functionality. What does the cloud mean to organisations? If you are getting a subsidiary online quickly, fine. But what if you have invested heavily in on-premise software? What’s the functionality that I suddenly need? What if I already have bought licences for that? There is a phasing thing here. And there is confusion."

Tim Noble, managing director of SAP UK & Ireland and head of emerging markets in Europe, said he hoped clarity would emerge around the rationale for the SuccessFactors and Ariba acquisitions. Both are cloud service providers, the former in human resources, the latter in procurement.

“SuccessFactors is one of the largest cloud providers in the world. Ariba is the biggest procurement network in the world,” said Noble.

“These acquisitions, and that of Sybase, drive the innovation that our customers want to do, using the power of SAP on-premise or in the cloud or on a mobile device. These are not done in isolation, but to drive customer innovation. The beauty of it is you are not being forced to go the cloud, or a device. But the confluence of cloud, mobile device and big data is important. We need to communicate more and better about these benefits.”

The survey also showed that there remains a need for greater education and clarity around SAP's business intelligence (BI) acquisition, BusinessObjects, especially for those who had previously invested in SAP’s BW (business warehouse) and BI software. Seventy per cent of respondents stated they felt that SAP has not been clear enough about the cost of migrating from SAP BW and BI to BusinessObjects.

Bowling said: “Many users have already invested in SAP BI and BW, so they want to know if they will be treated like completely new SAP customers if they move to SAP BusinessObjects. Or will users be given discounts to account for the fact they have already invested in similar technology from SAP? Clarity over these issues will help users tackle the data challenges they are facing more quickly. Licensing should also be about functionality, not just seats. If product 'X' changes its name, the customer should still be licensed for it."

The survey canvassed 160 SAP customers in the UK & Ireland. The results were announced at the UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference taking place in Manchester 18-20 November 2012.

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