Complex ERP systems have maneuvered SAP into a crisis. [shutterstock: 576862294, Brian A Jackson]

Complex ERP systems have maneuvered SAP into a crisis. [shutterstock: 576862294, Brian A Jackson]

A Crisis For ERP

Before I criticize SAP’s quality of service, here’s a comparison with existing SAP costumer Lufthansa: The service hotline of Miles & More will hang up on you if they don’t know what to do anymore. All I wanted was to claim missing air miles.

Monopolies – and I’m including SAP and Lufthansa – develop an unmistakable momentum of their own: Apparently, binding passengers with a bonus card while actually crediting as few miles as possible is an economic advantage for Lufthansa’s Miles & More. If the problem cannot be resolved, I will, in accordance with GDPR, request all of my stored data, withdraw from the club and also enforce my right to be forgotten. Being an owner of a complex SAP system myself, I know that this course of action will cost Lufthansa thousands of dollars. A dear acquaintance (attorney in Munich and also connected to DSAG) will help me with it.

ERP is in a crisis

The combination of monopolized structures and complex ERP systems has maneuvered SAP into a difficult situation. Our R/3 was a “black box” with Abap modifications. ERP/ECC 6.0 including NetWeaver changed the infrastructure: Our SAP system became part of corporate IT. Our core processes were in harmony with SAP’s and they both worked satisfactorily on the basis of IBM DB2 and Oracle.

However, SAP has moved further away from existing customers with monopolistic systems like “Hana”, “S/4” and now “C/4”. At the same time, service and development of classical core components were neglected in favor of Hybris, Ariba, Concur, SuccessFactors, Leonardo, Fieldglass and the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP). The realm of SAP has become too complex and nearly unmanageable for existing customers as well as SAP. An example would be HR/HCM on premise versus SuccessFactos HCM Suite in SAP’s cloud. If anyone still understands that – please let us know! Our SAP basis has been working on a feasibility study with our global HCM department for months.

SAP is trying to escape the “ERP crisis” with a forward-moving strategy towards cloud computing, blockchain, AI and IoT. SAP is aware that a lot of costumers like us are still using Business Suite with IBM DB2 or Oracle and that there are just as many small and medium-sized enterprises which are operating MS-SQL servers. The data base Hana is inevitable, but far from manageable for every existing SAP costumer – which makes AWS and Microsoft happy and helps their cloud business tremendously. Even the promised CRM with the innovative name C/4 will not cause great excitement in the SAP community.

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Game changer or marketing gag?

One additional topic will emerge this autumn as well as at our DSAG congress in Germany which has the potential to become a game changer: autonomous systems and ERP. Of course, the collective term “autonomous ERP” is not really new either. It is reminiscent of self-healing software and RPA (Robotic Process Automation). However, with new IT tricks from the AI treasure chest that is machine and deep learning, I could imagine an autonomous ERP system controlled by AI robots. Whether it also solves our problems in the Z-namespace remains to be seen.

However, there’s a good reason for concern that SAP cannot save Business Suite with AI out of the Leonardo toolbox, but only wants to spread a little bit of positivity. “Autonomous systems and ERP” could therefore become a marketing gag similar to C/4. Many ideas, many construction sites, and no roadmap! And RPA is now available everywhere.

Admittedly, anyone who has read my text carefully will have noticed that I excessively use quotation marks. That’s because we live in uncertain times! It’s not just DSAG that hit the nail on its head with the recent summer survey and the congress topic “A crisis for ERP”. You can also feel the uncertainty and disorientation at SAP Partners and at the SAP Headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. There simply is a lack of clear statements, verified strategies and trust in a joint future.

 

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