Expectations were high. Hopes of a consistent and transparent end-to-end integration of the many SAP acquisitions with the ERP/CRM core were higher. The Sapphire 2019 in Orlando was supposed to be a turning point for SAP customers. Eagerly, they were waiting for the announcement that the integration of SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, Callidus and Qualtrics was finally finished.
And why wouldn’t they? For months, SAP promised customers that C/4 would be a seamless, consistent CRM suite. It promised that it would be just like any other SAP solution that came before – perfectly integrated with the digital core. C/4’s experience management with all its X and O data was supposed to work without interfaces – true E2E integration!
A few weeks ago, one SAP executive said in a private discussion that the integration issue was indeed challenging, but that SAP was working on it. Sapphire 2019 would have been perfect to announce that SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur, Callidus and all other cloud acquisitions would now reside in HEC (Hana Enterprise Cloud).
However, the 30,000 Sapphire attendees were heavily disappointed: there was no such announcement. For now, the SAP Data Hub will remain the only solution to manually and individually create E2E scenarios.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott did mention the topic of integration in his Sapphire keynote – but only briefly, and not voluntarily. He rather let his Chief Operation Officer Christian Klein explain it to Sapphire attendees.
Christian Klein is undoubtedly a shooting star of the SAP executive board. However, he is not a technician – and it doesn’t help that integration is not his expertise. He’s doing CTO Juergen Mueller’s work for him. The young CTO wasn’t even allowed on the Sapphire keynote stage.
Hasso Plattner as last hope
After McDermott’s and Klein’s disappointing Sapphire performance, customers turned to Hasso Plattner as their last resort. The SAP founder doesn’t shy away from clear, honest statements. He doesn’t leave anything up in the air – which is why a lot of customers respect him so much.
In his Sapphire keynote, Hasso Plattner was resolute: there is no such thing as an integration issue. He said that SAP’s systems have great interfaces and tools to build bridges between SAP ERP/CRM and Qualtrics.
From a technical perspective, solving the integration problem by building bridges is tempting, as it is easier than an E2E integration.
However, this also proves that no one at SAP thinks that Christian Klein is up to the integration challenge, and Jennifer Morgan won’t be of much help, either. And they both shouldn’t have to be! Solving the integration issue is a task for the CTO – but Juergen Mueller is nowhere to be found.
Integration just doesn’t fit with SAP’s strategy
Building bridges means that SAP customers can and should follow a best-of-breed approach. This new strategy also fits with other Sapphire statements from Hasso Plattner.
Plattner wants a new beginning for customers. He argues that traditional, outdated ERP concepts, relics of the R/3 world, are not fit for modern systems. Customers should therefore prepare for SAP Public Cloud or at least a greenfield approach for S/4 Hana.
This also correlates with Bill McDermott’s and Luka Mucic’s restructuring program. About 4,400 employees were let go in the past few months, primarily experts with traditional ERP know-how. SAP’s CEO seems to think that he won’t be needing them anymore in the cloud era.
Sapphire attendees were able to witness the strategic balance between Bill McDermott and Hasso Plattner. McDermott, the flashy CEO who fired experts with traditional know-how worldwide; Plattner, the strategic chairman of the supervisory board who therefore recommends SAP Public Cloud and a greenfield approach without legacy systems.
However, Hasso Plattner’s solution to the integration issue might have unintended consequences. If you have to start building bridges between SAP’s own systems, why not use a better CRM system from, say, Salesforce? Implementing C/4 and its components is just as laborious as installing alternative products from competitors.