To answer this question, we first have to consider how customers add value to their existing ERP and CRM systems. They don’t add value through back-office applications, or through business processes. Value creation also doesn’t happen somewhere outside of Hana and S/4 systems.
ERP/ECC 6.0 and Business Suite 7 customers already know the answer. Adding value happens through Abap modifications, add-ons and customization. Equipped with individual modifications, SAP software becomes a powerful business tool.
Value is added by customizing Abap tables. If this is true, then how are customers supposed to achieve the same effect in standardized S/4 systems operated in public clouds? While SAP is trying to create comprehensive E2E processes on its own, it’s impossible to fulfill the needs of every customer at once.
SAP has recognized the sign of the times, though, as it is offering Abap on SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) now. Theoretically, customers could also customize the Hana platform. More conservative customers could use Open SQL for that, and more adventurous ones could also leverage Hana’s own Graph engine.
So, what’s the problem?
While there are ways to add value to systems that aren’t tied to Abap, they don’t make much sense for SAP solutions. Modifications outside of Abap tables are not much better than individualization of databases through added script.
This brings us back to our initial question: how will customers individually add value to future S/4 Hana implementations? Hopefully, SAP will come up with a sustainable solution for customers to preserve the unique value of its solutions. However, only time will tell.