End of maintenance and ERP in 2040
To hear SAP speak, customers could not be blamed for thinking the ERP world will come to a standstill in 2040 with S/4 Hana. Many SAP customers have not yet switched from ECC 6.0 to S/4, which makes the 2040 seem quite distant in the future, especially since no other IT manufacturer makes a similarly extended maintenance promise. SAP is thus giving its customers a measure of security with regard to S/4 and Hana. However, given SAP’s successful history and R/3 and ECC 6.0’s (SAP Business Suite 7) longevity, the 17 years until the end of maintenance for S/4 is not an eternity either.
A look into the crystal ball
Nowhere does making a prognosis seem to be as difficult as in IT— especially when it comes to the future of ERP. The current example of ChatGPT has shown how quickly supposedly safe parameters must be re-evaluated. Who will program an S/4 successor? The developers at SAP, or a start-up using ChatGPT? Neither the community nor SAP have a crystal ball that can provide well-founded answers here—not even ChatGPT can. This makes a discourse on the ERP future all the more important in order to situate arguments and possibilities.
Apple will probably sell only a few 100,000 units of its new Apple Glasses or Apple Vision Pro, but it is obviously the most important IT prototype for another evolutionary step. With Apple’s well-known holistic approach, not only did they create data glasses, but with an operating system to match, they created an entire new data glasses universe. The operating system will continue to grow and the Apple Glasses will change shape and optimize. SAP refuses to be similarly bold and innovative in thinking about the future, which is a major threat to current customers.
Not answers, but opportunities
No one is asking SAP to deliver an ERP specification for an S/4 successor. But showing possibilities, the basis for innovation and the will to think beyond Hana and S/4, would be future insurance for SAP’s customers. Similar to the way Apple has by far not answered all questions with its current data glasses, but has still initiated a very important discourse, SAP should also have the courage to enter into a discussion about the future of ERP.
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