It was a gloomy time back then. With R/3, SAP had the best “black box” ERP in the world, but no affinity for openness, agility, or master data management. This bunker mentality was summarized in a simple question: Is SAP sleeping on the internet? SAP’s colorful answer was mySAP.com. It was more of a marketing gag than a sustainable solution, though. The mySAP.com logo was plastered across mousepads and business cards, but the R/3 Enterprise successor mySAP ERP 2004/2005 was a disaster.
A quick summary for some of my younger readers: After the disastrous mySAP ERP 2004/2005, SAP consolidated the chaos in ECC 5.0 and ERP/ECC 6.0, which is still widely used today (Business Suite 7). SAP tried to make customers forget that any of this ever happened, desperately trying to make S/4 the successor of R/3. The ERP company doesn’t like talking about anything that lies between.
Innovations at SAP are nowhere to be found
In my opinion, the last true (and successful!) innovation SAP had to offer was Hasso Plattner’s in-memory computing, which it made into the database Hana. The one thing that really strikes me about it is the Youtube video “Hasso on Hasso”. Right at the end, Plattner predicts that the next big IT revolution will be new programming languages. More than a decade later, his prediction has come true in the form of low-code/no-code tools. So, at least someone at SAP had the much-needed foresight to predict the “next big thing” in IT. However, instead of investing and building up internal resources, the company first licensed Mendix from Siemens, then created Ruum, then bought Signavio, and then, a month later, acquired AppGyver. Who needs four low-code/no-code tools on one price list? None of them will help SAP catch up to competitors.
Is SAP missing the boat when it comes to the internet, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, IIoT, cloud, edge computing, and much more? Yes. SAP is only involved in all of these areas through other companies. Collaborations, partnerships, and acquisitions are supposed to help SAP catch up, but its strategy has yet to pay off. SAP has been lacking true innovation for a while now.