NetWeaver and RISE with SAP have more in common than one might think. When former SAP CTO Shai Agassi presented the “program” NetWeaver for the first time, it wasn’t clear what SAP wanted it to be. Just like his mentor Hasso Plattner, Agassi was an SAP visionary. Unfortunately, SAP customers were struggling with mySAP ERP 2004/2005 at the time and couldn’t truly appreciate his disruptive ERP visions.
At first, NetWeaver as software stack wasn’t exactly what you’d call a comprehensive offer. SAP therefore packed all available tools, engines, and add-ons onto the virtual offer. Every existing customer using more than three solutions from SAP’s toolbox was automatically counted as a NetWeaver customer. For example, if someone was customizing their SAP portal, using the exchange infrastructure, and leveraging Java stack, they were a NetWeaver customer per definition.
When I contacted SAP directly at the time, they gave me a short list of reference customers. Most calls to companies on that list were disillusioning: Parts of SAP’s software offer were in use, but hardly anyone knew that they were now called NetWeaver.
Déjà vu: RISE with SAP
CEO Christian Klein didn’t propose something entirely new with RISE with SAP. He just combined existing infrastructure (see Embrace) with acquired solutions (see Signavio). SAP is phasing out Run Simple, Embrace, and Conversion, replacing them with old wine in new bottles (see RISE).
Similar to its NetWeaver trick, existing SAP customers with a running Conversion program that have opted for Signavio Process Mining are now automatically counted as RISE customers. All RISE customers who were part of the pilot phase are also included in the official number. Which is why, during the Q1 2021 financial results analyst call, Klein remarked that RISE was already a gamechanger with 100 closed deals in the first quarter.
While SAP customers and partners are still struggling with Embrace and Conversion, Christian Klein is patting himself on the back for finishing SAP’s cloud integration. During the Q1 call, he suggested that SAP has finalized its integration work, that all its solutions now share one consolidated data model, one platform. If you believe the office grapevine at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, however, Christian Klein and CFO Luka Mucic are still looking for ways to finance the repair of its cloud integration concept.
SAP and IIoT: That ship has sailed
Klein went on to explain that at the core of RISE is the Business Technology Platform, and that SAP customers should start building on said platform. Platform thinking can be a smart move (see NetWeaver). SAP wants to go one step further: Klein is planning to create a B2B industry network modeled after the automotive platform Catena-X. The motivation behind it isn’t the right one, though: SAP wants to build industry platforms not because it has a lot of IIoT know-how, but simply because it wants to make a lot of money.
SAP’s goal to build industrial networks and platforms for IIoT data is like if Siemens suddenly tried to program the best FI/CO software. SAP had its chance at a pole position in IIoT and M2M, but the Leonardo concept was tossed out the window – Klein most likely won’t get a second chance. Instead, he should focus on what SAP does best.