Imagine an IT architecture where compatibility, interoperability, compliance and data quality are solved; where a limitless, comprehensive master data management exists. You can add any app, cloud, IoT and blockchain and still have consolidated and verified data quality. You mix SAP, IBM, Salesforce, SAS, Microsoft and Oracle and still have consolidated and verified data quality.
Fiction or reality?
After a presentation by Franz Faerber, SAP EVP Products and Innovation Big Data, I truly believe that this happy data utopia could become a reality. With SAP’s Data Hub, Franz Faerber has created a universal architecture and operational infrastructure for every conceivable data application: data visibility, quality, innovation, cost and compliance.
In this context, existing SAP customer BASF said: “SAP Data Hub has the potential to become SAPs next game changer”. As exciting as this innovation is for the SAP community – there’s two sides to every coin. Proposing the question: Can this new, universally available, sustainable master data management also be good for SAP?
The SAP Data Hub makes it even easier for existing customers to integrate third-party applications into their R/3, ERP/ECC 6.0 or S/4 landscapes. Whether applications from IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft, SAS, Siemens or Bosch – everything becomes possible and the golden record remains intact. The SAP Data Hub is the heart of the system landscape for existing SAP customers, enabling completely new degrees of freedom in app selection.
Naturally, no existing SAP customer will abandon and replace the established core system, SAP Finance and HR/HCM. However, consistent end-to-end scenarios starting with an Adobe Magento online shop, Salesforce CRM, DDSCM, IoT from Siemens and billing via SAP Simple Finance are therefore not only conceivable, but also realistic based on the SAP Data Hub!
SAP only knows one way to oppose this newfound freedom in IT: Indirect Access! If SAP maintains their stance on Indirect Access, despite antitrust laws and EU software guidelines, Adobe, Salesforce, SAS, and many others are excluded from an E2E process – but then what’s the point of SAP Data Hub? SAP’s innovation is therefore a double-edged sword: it solves the MDM problem but has Indirect Access written all over it. If SAP forgoes the license construct Indirect Access, it forgoes a lot of sales – but it certainly promotes acceptance of the Data Hub.
Contradicting the strategy
With the SAP Data Hub, all IT players are back together, even if SAP wanted to push Oracle, Microsoft and IBM out of the ERP realm with the Hana database. To sum up with: the current iteration of the Data Hub contradicts the current SAP strategy. With the Data Hub, SAP risks self-extinguishing the C/4 and S/4 initiatives which just launched. The E2E scenario of CRM (C/4) and ERP (S/4) presented at Sapphire collapses like a house of cards if the individual process steps can also be carried out by third-party solutions based on the Data Hub.
The trend is shifting away from centralized, monolithic software installations, which have dominated in the past, towards networked digital platforms – at least according to Bitkom’s “Digital Platforms and ERP”, which was published during the run-up to Cebit 2018. The future belongs to modular ERP solutions and the new networked digital platform in the SAP community is the data hub. Bitkom concludes: Third-party applications can be integrated into digital platforms and at the same time offer developers the opportunity to integrate their own solutions. In the future, digital platforms will give customers previously unknown freedom when selecting providers and developers – and giving these developers a chance to be represented on several platforms.
At the moment, it’s hard to imagine SAP CEO Bill McDermott relinquishing control so easily and let these passable streams of income dry up – but the SAP Data Hub has the potential to bring new freedom of choice to the IT community. A freedom of choice that becomes increasingly important as fewer SAP customers are opting for on-premise SAP applications and cloud computing.