Despair is spreading in the SAP community: Tasks from the area of digital transformation and IoT must be solved and implemented – but there are no standardized answers for this yet. SAP is conjuring up a new reference customer for each and every problem. The examples are technically amazing – but not sustainable! Their singularity prevents widespread adoption.
At SAP, they are wondering why business with Hana and S/4 as well as cloud (HEC and HCP) isn’t taking off in light of the many references, use and business cases as well as Proofs of Concept. The customer base wonders why SAP does not provide any sustainable answers, instructions and generally applicable advice and tweaks. “Enablement” of digital transformation is a bit harder than making up spectacular reference stories.
What digital transformation in its current varieties, such as IoT and Industry 4.0, is missing, is a scientific basis. There is no resilient foundation, no theoretical, generic model on which practical solutions could be based.
Research and Development criminally neglected the research part of its tasks, while developing more and more singular use and business cases – another cloud, and another, and another… Who still knows all the SAP-owned clouds and the clouds created in cooperation with partners such as Siemens, Bosch, etc.? The number of cloud construction sites must be immense. In any case, it is impossible to manage for the SAP customer base.
Lack of Answers
Chaos ensues outside of SAP’s cloud computing as well. The many purchases are far from having been fully digested. The HR/HCM solution SuccessFactors is sold very aggressively, with moderate success but without adding any kind of technical stability to the HR/HCM cloud. The first half of the year was characterized by a considerable number of failures and faults.
If you want to combine ERP and Hybris, you will find enough technical interfaces, but barely any resilient business cases: Where are new customers set up? Is the leading system Hybris or ERP/ECC 6.0? How, when and where are data reconciled?
All of these business management and organizational questions must be solved by every existing customer every time they come up. The well-known manufacturer of an integrated standard solution for business management from Walldorf (see R/2, R/3 and ERP/ECC 6.0) has no answers to that.
The interface between ERP/ECC 6.0 and Ariba is one example of the many unanswered questions and construction sites in the global SAP realm. The only way to get from ERP to the global trading platform in the cloud is a CSV file. To make this data transfer GRC-compatible, it must be processed according to the SAP specifications via NetWeaver PI (Process Integration). The term “integration” is gaining an entirely new relevance for the SAP customer base when using CSV files.
Low priority for smart interface at Ariba
Head of Ariba Alexander Atzberger was ascribed a true chance of moving into the SAP board of directors and great ambitions to do so, by the German Manager Magazin early this year. Things are looking very different at the moment. At the Ariba in-house trade fair in Las Vegas, USA, this year, Alexander Atzberger tried to justify his on-premise- and SaaS policy.
Yes, there is an on-premise interface between SAP and Ariba, but it is not being developed any further. Yes, they were trying to design a cloud interface similar to the one between SAP and SuccessFactors.
Software developers from Germany who approached Ariba in despair had to learn that a “smart” interface is planned but currently still given extremely low priority. It would be interesting to see how SAP Ariba President Atzberger justifies this construction site before the SAP board.
Alexander Atzberger from Ariba has little to fear, however, since technical director Bernd Leukert at SAP has a permanent construction site that is supposed to last until 2020 in S/4 as well. At the moment, S/4 Finance and S/4 Logistics are being rolled out in tiny steps, supplemented by necessary infrastructure packages such as S4Core. A participant in this year’s DSAG annual congress said that he was reminded of his youth, when he collected 90’s pop-magazine star posters and it took forever until the finished poster was finally up on his wall.
Patience is key
The SAP customer base not only needs to be patient with the new ERP S/4, but also deal with crashes due to the instability of S/4 and Hana in between. A Swiss S/4 Finance user held a shattering lecture on this at DSAG in Nuremberg.
The community agrees that SAP is having many good ideas at the moment, and that they are going roughly in the right direction. Apparently, however, the ERP group cannot handle its homework. They currently promise to clear up all the construction sites and finish final S/4-development by 2020 – but many from the SAP customer base are unable to wait.