Customers say SAP knows too little about their businesses

51% of SAP's customers find the supplier’s account managers don't know enough about their businesses, according to a user group survey

SAP customers, by a slim majority, find the supplier’s account managers insufficiently knowledgeable about their businesses, according to an SAP UK and Ireland User Group survey.

In his keynote address at the user group conference in Birmingham, chairman Philip Adams (pictured) said: “SAP can help us, but we need access to the right people. Over 50% of respondents say that SAP account executives don’t have the level of knowledge about our members’ industry or business to help with adopting innovation. 

"Yet we know, as a user group, these people in SAP exist. The challenge is that account managers at SAP don’t always guide us in the direction of these experts.”

Adams said 74% of the 117 SAP user organisations in the UK and Ireland surveyed stated that SAP is bringing technology to market that they are unable to adopt with sufficient speed.

Adams welcomed on stage Cormac Watters, the supplier’s new UK and Ireland managing director. Watters admitted that even he did not know, when joining SAP, that it had a “cloud extension policy” – where on-premise investments can be taken into consideration when moving to cloud delivery. A former CIO and COO of global baker Aryzta and DCC Technology, Watters said his plan was “to get much closer to customers and partners in the next few years”.

Licence and subscription costs a barrier

“Cormac comes from a customer background, holding executive roles in organisations that have been users of SAP,” said Adams. “He took time in his first week in the job to meet with the user group’s executive team, and it became clear very quickly that he understood the issues and challenges we, as customers, face in IT today – and more specifically with our SAP deployments.”

He said SAP licensing and subscription costs were cited as an adoption barrier by 15% more respondents than would mark other suppliers down similarly (69% and 54%). 

“This did surprise me, considering the moves SAP made in the summer of 2013 to make it more commercially attractive to adopt innovations through its cloud and on-premise extension policies – which, in theory, enable you to leverage existing investments to pay for new innovations," he said. 

However, this may not be so surprising, considering the data around these extension policies. Only 23% of people said they made it more attractive to adopt SAP innovations, and only 10% of organisations have actually used these policies to take advantage of SAP innovations.

“These statistics may look like depressing reading, but some uptake is better than no uptake. SAP simply needs to do more to educate and help customers," said Adams.

“Migration and implementation costs are a barrier. Cloud can help with this, but it won’t be a miracle solution. In fact, 82% of respondents told us that adopting innovations from any software vendor creates disruption, and this disruption slows their pace of adoption.

"This might sound obvious, but if our organisations are to become more agile and responsive, we need to find ways to ease this disruption."

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