Hasso Plattner recognized the power of process mining very early on. When SAP’s Innovation and Research Center opened in Potsdam, Germany so many years ago, one of the guests was the then young startup Celonis from Munich.
Celonis has since developed magnificently and, according to the assessment of financial experts, is worth over ten billion euros. The Celonis software was also on the SAP price list, and some SAP partners made use of this innovation. Investments were made in training, education, and sales. Celonis software was implemented and successfully maintained in SAP customers’ landscapes.
These partners probably did not expect SAP’s leapfrogging.
Expect the unexpected
A few years after Celonis had been established on the SAP price list, SAP bought startup Signavio (which also offers a process mining solution) and said goodbye to Celonis through the back door. While Celonis is now successful enough to be able to cope with SAP’s antics, I can’t help but wonder: What are the partners to do now?
Some SAP partners invested a lot of time and money into training for and distribution of Celonis software. Their customers similarly invested resources into implementing and maintaining Celonis software. Replacing components in an IT landscape is neither simple nor inexpensive. While it is relatively easy for SAP to revise its price list, many consequential problems arise for partners and customers.
Loyalty is always a two-way street. SAP partners can only be loyal to SAP’s offerings and solutions if SAP, for its part, also shows reliability and continuity. The acquisition of Signavio as part of RISE with SAP came as a surprise. Even though SAP is moving in the right direction with Signavio, it should have considered legacy issues.
Unfortunately, the Celonis case is not an isolated incident. SAP has acted in a similarly disruptive way on the topic of low-code/no-code programming. For several years, Siemens subsidiary Mendix had been on the SAP price list. There were Hana/Mendix interfaces and tools that were integrated in the SAP universe. A year ago, SAP CTO Juergen Mueller presented a new low-code/no-code solution called Ruum. With Signavio, another similar application joined SAP, and shortly thereafter SAP acquired a startup called AppGyver in this field. Because the topic is interesting and important, SAP partners naturally also offer suitable solutions.
SAP has many good ideas, is marching in the right direction, but spares little thought to its companions and their and customers’ legacy issues. The question posed at the outset, “How loyal are SAP partners?”, should therefore be revised to, “How loyal is SAP to its partners?”