It hasn’t been that long since SAP CEO Christian Klein’s contrite retraction of growth forecasts caused SAP’s share price to plummet. In the meantime, analysts and shareholders have been able to breathe a sigh of relief: Cloud revenues have increased by 20 percent.
The worst seems to be over. SAP is heading towards a promising cloud future. However, this future could be thwarted if there are not enough people who understand the Business Technology Platform (BTP). SAP has virtually no choice but to become one of the largest education companies in the world.
Many journalists and market observers see signs that Christian Klein’s strategy is paying off and that S/4 Cloud could become a sales hit, even though competitor Salesforce will not be beaten so easily in the race for first place in the cloud market. Analysts are now looking more closely at how SAP is continuing to invest in the cloud and accompanying the advancing digitization in customer and partner companies. However, there is a lot of talk about revenues, investments, and software features and far too little about people and skills. SAP will only win the race for first place in the cloud market if it succeeds in bringing people along on the journey. The only way to do that is through making learning tools and training resources available to them.
The World Economic Forum has calculated that because of the acceleration of digital transformation, around one billion employees will have to be newly qualified or trained. Analysts hypothesize that around 70 percent of the world’s social product will at some point run on an SAP computer – or soon in the SAP cloud. This figure illustrates the responsibility that SAP has for the success of all digitization efforts.
SAP can’t help but become an education provider in a big way: What good would it do to be able to offer the best cloud experience, courtesy of numerous acquisitions, if the people cannot or do not want to take that step into the future because they lack the skills?
Max Wessel, SAP Chief Learning Officer, seems to recognize the immense leverage he and his profession have for SAP’s future. He and his team understand the importance of “meeting people where they are”. His focus is on “learning journeys” that prioritize the mobile user experience and guarantee that anyone who wants to can learn about all SAP products from their phone, no matter where they are.
SAP itself is still on a learning journey. The decision to make online learning programs available to students free of charge is a strategically important step. However, many paid SAP learning programs do not meet the requirements of a contemporary, interactive, and fun online learning experience, even though its high price would suggest otherwise. SAP still has a lot to learn, too, and is learning something new every day.
A lot still has to happen for SAP’s cloud vision to become reality. Above all, learning must finally take on the status it deserves. It is not a nice-to-have luxury, but a fundamental prerequisite for bringing people, companies, and society at large along on the cloud journey. Analysts should stop measuring the present and future success of a software company purely on revenue figures and technology parameters. They should also focus on learning rates and the quality of educational offerings. Consultants, partners, and customers must provide feedback and demand more and better learning opportunities. Learning opportunities need to be diverse and seamlessly integrated into the everyday lives of current and future users. Only then will the cloud become a reality!