Although Hasso Plattner is trying to bring his customers to the digital age, digital transformation and SAP might be a mismatch. [shutterstock: 205584193, Lori Werhane]
Hasso Plattner wants his customers to arrive in the age of digital transformation. The opinions of what’s innovative and what’s digital diverge greatly.
With S/4, SAP wants to leave Abap in the past, but ERP/ECC 6.0 as Business Suite 7 is a heavy burden to bear. European SAP customers have invested a lot of money in R/2, R/3 and Business Suite. Innovative business processes with Netweaver and ECC as a base have been created. Equipped with Abap modifications and add-ons as Z-functions, customers are happy with their ERP systems from SAP and a data base from Oracle, IBM or Microsoft.
More probable than not, however, this combination will not be enough for digital transformation. SAP recognized the sign of the times, but misinterpreted it. To replace SAP’s Business Suite 7 with a little bit of Simple Finance, Simple Logistics and Design Thinking as well as a few Leonardo innovations is a cheap trick. The “release change“ will not be easy: Wanting to improve Abap spreadsheets of Business Suite with Hana is a nice thought, but not enough. Even the cherry on top, Leonardo, cannot help here.
It is no viable solution to just ignore the old problems and continue like before, especially not with the goal of digital transformation in mind. Even if they use the new Fiori design, most SAP costumers are still stuck with old business processes. This combination of traditional ERP knowledge based on the fast data base Hana and the buzzword S/4 will not bring customers any closer to digital transformation.
If SAP can’t do it, who can?
SAP did great with its R/2, R/3 and ERP/ECC 6.0 – why else would the software firm be the global leader in ERP? ERP is unimpeachable, and there has been a lot of praise for the new Simple Finance from the S/4 collection.
However, digital transformation is something else. Just transferring legacy systems to new platforms is not going to cut it in the future. The impatience on the road to Hana of former SAP Chief Technology Officer Vishal Sikka is not going to solve a single transformation problem.
Digital transformation is an entrepreneurial challenge going far beyond ERP. SAP recognized that, too, but here it lacks knowledge and tradition. Other IT providers are way better at putting together the many pieces needed for a successful digital transformation.
You might feel the urge to tell SAP, “Cobbler, stick to your last!“ Recklessly, SAP is gambling with its core competence ERP and spreads itself too thin. SAP has no unique selling point concerning cloud, blockchain, AI and IoT. Other companies have been walking this road for a long time, and consequently are more experienced and knowledgeable.
What is more, some SAP customers invest more in AI than SAP does! SAP’s defeat in these areas is almost certain, and digital transformation will come to a screeching halt. Hasso Plattner is behind the wheel and is steering in the right direction, but most aspects of digital transformation are in the hands of other IT providers, where they might just be better off.