It has long been a tradition at SAP to present completely pointless products and strategies almost out of nowhere. SAP’s latest magic trick goes by the name of RISE and was presented by Christian Klein and his fellow board members Juergen Mueller and Thomas Saueressig in a virtual studio alongside partners like Microsoft and existing customers like Siemens.
This time, it at least wasn’t quite as embarrassing as the infamous S/4 presentation in New York City at the stock exchange. Back then, Professor Hasso Plattner, then SAP CEO Bill McDermott, former Chief Technology Officer Bernd Leukert, and the CFO of chemical giant Bayer, a longtime SAP customer, were on stage. While Plattner, McDermott, and Leukert tried to make the case for a release upgrade from ERP/ECC 6.0 (SAP Business Suite 7) to S/4 Hana, Bayer’s CFO raved about R/3: After ten years of customizing, he said, Bayer now had a global R/3 system and thus perfect reporting without Excel. The CFO was a truly happy SAP customer – but his enthusiastic and honest presentation completely missed the point. The topic of the presentation was S/4, not its grandfather R/3.
History repeats itself
The current SAP CEO, Christian Klein, has now successfully continued this SAP tradition of flopped announcements at the end of January. Only problem: The underlying issue he promises to solve with the solution he presented has already been solved by many customers – otherwise they would never have been successful. Perhaps IDS Scheer’s Aris has historically not been the optimal solution, but Professor Scheer has since further developed the concept. Those who only later encountered the challenge of business process reengineering found a good solution partner in Celonis, which was not only promoted by SAP, but also found itself on SAP’s price and conditions list.
Now, to the great surprise of the SAP community, Christian Klein announced the acquisition of the Berlin-based startup Signavio. Here, too, the focus is on process mining. What now, Mr. Klein? Should customers customize Celonis because it’s on your price list, or give Signavio a chance because you just acquired it for a lot of money?
Good intentions aren’t good enough, and SAP’s customers will never be satisfied with cheap magic tricks. Important questions, such as about the future license status of AnyDB after a switch to Hana and S/4, have remained unanswered for years, and this just won’t do.
Customers and the SAP community are unhappy because after Run Simple, Asap, and Conversion, RISE is not a final answer, but just more repair service behavior. Analysts and journalists are dissatisfied because it lacks a reliable foundation for the future. Shareholders are dissatisfied because the share price of competitors is rising steadily while SAP is clearly moving sideways. Former SAP CEO Bill McDermott has nearly doubled ServiceNow’s share price since the ‘corona crash’ in March 2020 while Christian Klein is struggling to maintain his reputation in the cloud business. Something has to be done – customers can only hope that it’s not another surprise out of SAP’s magician’s hat.