Blog Last and Least


If the images from the SAP Sapphire event in Orlando are to be believed, SAP CEO Christian Klein has decided he is a mountaineer.

The past SAP customer events were dominated by the database product Hana. The database’s all-surpassing speed was supposed to solve almost every problem imaginable. Hana became synonymous with competence, agility, and resilience. Even though Hana was quite quick, it still remained a simple SQL database for a powerful ERP. First it was SAP Business Suite 7 with SoH, Suite on Hana, and later S/4 Hana, SAP’s new ERP system that runs exclusively on the in-memory computing database.

Hana is quite fast in theory and sometimes in practice, but it doesn’t actually solve all that many problems. This is because the vast majority of SAP’s customers need good ERP algorithms and roadmaps to reach the top, instead of constantly going around in circles like Formula 1 cars around a mountain. SAP CEO Christian Klein was seen on the Sapphire stage in front of a picture of a mountain peak, and he promised the guests present a victorious trek towards the summit. Back when SAP was marketing RISE, the marketing team used a similar image. Obviously, Christian Klein and his CEO predecessors are striving for higher things. The metaphor may work at first glance, but SAP’s customers should ask themselves what SAP is trying to express with this image of a summit—once you’ve reached the top, you can only go downhill!

Christian Klein has gotten many things wrong in the current discourse on digital transformation: he believes it’s enough to achieve one-off goals as quickly as possible with Hana and S/4. Real life is about a continuum; life is a long, calm river. It’s the algorithms and data structures that need to be mastered. Data chaos must be conquered again and again because digital transformation is an eternal challenge.

Christian Klein should not worry about being the fastest, but instead become a reliable partner for the SAP community and customers. However, he has proven to be the exact opposite once again: he’s had the 9000 EUR S/4 flat rate removed from the PKL (SAP price and conditions list) for Q2/2023. Now his customers can no longer choose between product conversion and contract conversion when they order their final S/4 license. Customers can only apply product conversion if they possess the S/4 flat rate.

It is not the hare that will win this race, but rather the tortoise, playing the long game and looking ahead. SAP is getting trickier and more imaginative every year. A successful S/4 conversion is first and foremost a thoughtful avoidance of all of SAP’s stumbling blocks, and this applies both uphill and downhill. Be careful climbing the mountain!

Any comments, questions, or concerns? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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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