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UKISUG 2015: Minority of users see SAP as digital protagonist

An SAP user organisation survey, released at the 2015 UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference, indicates that the supplier is seen as a digital transformation leader by around one-fifth of customers

Most SAP customers do not yet see the supplier as a leader or innovator in digitisation.

At least this seems a conclusion to be drawn from a UK & Ireland SAP User Group survey of 107 organisations. Released on the opening day of its annual conference in Birmingham, the survey found that just over half (53%) are doing digital transformation projects with SAP, but only 20% saw the supplier – which has been putting great efforts into its digital transformation messaging – as a leader, and 18% thought it to be an innovator.

At the core of the supplier’s digital message has been S/4 Hana, the upgrade of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to run on its in-memory database platform Hana.

The survey found that 30% of SAP user organisations currently have a digitisation strategy in place. A further 36% said there were areas of their organisation undertaking digital transformation work, but that they did not have an overall strategic plan.

But the survey also found nearly 58% of respondents thought suppliers were creating too much hype around “digitisation” and “digital transformation”. In addition, 80% felt the terms were merely a repackaging exercise.

Philip Adams, chairman, UK&I SAP User Group said, in a statement: “There is a great opportunity for SAP to help organisations on their digitisation journey. The key now is for SAP to help users deliver digital transformation against the backdrop of keeping their day-to-day business processes running. It is here we a see role for SAPs process design and innovation experts to work with users and impart their knowledge.”

In his address to the conference he added: “We don’t need to hear the buzzwords, we just need practical help.”

Sven Denecken, global senior vice-president for product management at S/4Hana, also spoke at the event. When asked to comment on the finding that one-fifth of respondents identified SAP as a digital transformation leader, said: “We have thousands of customers who have voted with their wallets for S/4 Hana. We need to get those customers on stage next year.”

He said that once, as anticipated, S/4Hana has twice as many as its current 1,300 customers, that will be a significant slice of SAP’s ERP customer base – in the region of 50,000. “And let’s not forget we started to innovate with S/4 in finance, which was a strategic decision, but we have extended it to an entire suite – manufacturing, supply chain and so on.”

Denecken added that SAP needs to convince the strategy consultancies, such as McKinsey, Bain and the Boston Consulting Group, that the supplier is a digital leader, and do that by way of “concrete examples” of business transformation through the use of S/4 Hana.

“S/4 Hana is a new business suite to run your businesses in a much leaner and more agile way,” he said.

Cormac Watters, managing director SAP UK & Ireland, who also spoke at the event, said in a statement: “While digital transformation presents great opportunity, it can also lead to complexity that is highlighted by the hype in the industry. It is our responsibility to guide our customers through this hype, to enable them to get true value quickly from digitisation.”

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