Integration: Back To The Future
Blog Last and Least

Integration: Back To The Future

SAP is struggling with the integration of its applications - even though fully integrated systems were once its core competency.

The integration problem was supposed to be fixed a long time ago. With R/3, SAP provided customers with a perfectly integrated system with a single point of truth, a database server, and numerous application and module servers. R/3 operated according to SAP’s famous client/server concept.

It’s true that R/3 was kind of a black box. Back then, many ridiculed SAP for it, taunting that it would be left behind in the internet era. SAP proved them wrong.

There were failed projects, like mySAP ERP 2005 and ECC 5.0. However, after that came SAP Business Suite 7 and ERP/ECC 6.0. Both systems were successful, at least partly because of their newfound transparency.

On the one hand, SAP created tools and concepts for integrating third-party data and SAP’s acquisitions, which was great. But on the other hand, the harmony, continuity and integration standard of R/3 were lost.

For many years now, SAP has been struggling to create a consistent business architecture with uniform definitions and interfaces – and hasn’t succeeded yet. Integrating data and business processes is still laborious and time-consuming.

No real solutions for the integration issue

SAP offered a solution that wasn’t: renaming Hybris C/4 to indicate that it was safe to use with S/4 and BW/4. This is not a sustainable solution for the integration issue – but SAP’s executives seem to be out of ideas.

Regarding Qualtrics, SAP CEO Bill McDermott already gave up hope for a consistent integration. During the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, he said that Qualtrics will continue to be independent and will be operating under existing management.

At Sapphire Now 2019, Christian Klein tried to ease the concerns of customers by talking about integration visions and maybes. In Orlando, many people told him that his presentation was great – even though some customers might feel like they’re going back to the future.

SAP already had a fully integrated system once. It just abandoned it in favor of cloud computing and other emerging technology trends.

S/4 and C/4 could actually help create a consistent ERP/CRM system one day – maybe Christian Klein will be able to pull it off. In the meantime, SAP customers can do nothing but wait and see.

E-3 Magazine July/August 2019 (German)

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at

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