“For almost 50 years now, together with you, we have been helping companies run better. But we are now at an inflection point”, explained SAP CEO Christian Klein in the official RISE With SAP event that happened in January 2021. He goes on to say that business transformation has never been more important than right now. “Before we designed our new offering, it was key to us to listen to our customers to understand what they need. And the key challenge for many enterprises is the how – how do you sustainably transform?”
After Run Simple, RISE With SAP is supposed to be the answer to that question. Christian Klein promises customers many things; the first one being Business Process Intelligence, enabling customers to access best practices and data from over 20,000 customers and seamlessly embed intelligence in their systems. The second element are special tools and services. “We and our partners will support you in going back to the standard and to harmonize your data sources,” said Klein. The third element are infrastructure and operations. According to Klein, SAP will provide customers with “maximum choice and the lowest costs”. He promises 99.9 percent system availability and a reduced TCO by up to 20 percent compared to existing landscapes. He goes on to say, “Our Business Technology Platform is the foundation for your business transformation, ensuring one semantical data layer, which is key to have high-quality data.”
Thomas Henzler, Licenses and Maintenance Director at the German-speaking SAP user group DSAG, commented on these announcements, “On the whole, the RISE With SAP offering is another step in the right direction. Because customers are relying more and more on SAP, there needs to be complete transparency into the offering: from a transparent transition of on-premises licenses to cloud subscriptions, to standardized, transparent, and streamlined cloud agreements without hidden costs, and a potential exit concept from the cloud. For DSAG, this is imperative to ensure the offering works well and is popular. […] RISE With SAP must not be a one-way street. If it becomes clear during a cloud transformation project that an on-premises product is more suitable in that instance, there should be clarity in advance about what the potential path back looks like.”
Undeterred by valid concerns, Christian Klein continues to praise RISE to the highest heavens. “We didn’t just draw our plan on a whiteboard and said, ‘Here we go, this is our new offering.’ We put a lot of effort into understanding the needs of our customers regarding the business transformation. We already have some thousand customers in S/4 Hana Cloud. The purpose of RISE With SAP is to do more than just a technical migration. With RISE, we can make sure that customers see tangible business outcomes. We always had the knowledge, but know we have that intelligence layer that we need to take our customers by the hand and guide them through this journey.”
What RISE is – and isn’t
Everyone in the SAP community knows that Powerpoint presentations cannot combat complexity – companies need facts. “With the new offering, we have facts, we have data, we can model, we can simulate, and business leaders can see that it is valuable to transform,” said Christian Klein during the RISE With SAP event. Companies are working in complex IT environments and have to integrate all their systems and applications, preferably end to end. SAP has lost this competitive advantage in the past few years because of numerous incompatible cloud acquisitions, but ever since Klein has been appointed as CEO, SAP has been working hard to provide seamless integration again. SAP CTO Juergen Mueller therefore sees RISE as a way to solve this problem. “Companies operate in complex IT environments, and they need to integrate all of their systems and applications. With our Business Technology Platform, we help them to reduce complexity and lower costs of integration.”
RISE With SAP is supposed to thrive where IT toolbox Leonardo failed. “We infuse AI capabilities into our end-to-end processes to achieve true intelligence and also comprehensive differentiation. We bring enterprise capabilities to AI and machine learning,” explains Mueller. Christian Klein adds, “Leonardo was AI, but it was not really embedded into our applications. When customers come to SAP, they don’t want to buy AI, they want to buy enterprise software. HEC is a Software as a Service offer, and it’s good, but what we’re doing with RISE is that we put the business first. HEC is embedded, but RISE is so much more than that. It’s a business transformation offering.”
During the RISE With SAP event, Klein also announced the acquisition of process-mining startup Signavio, which took a lot of people by surprise. For anyone wondering what will happen to SolMan now that Signavio’s capabilities cover a lot of its functional scope, Head of SAP Product Engineering Thomas Saueressig has the answer, “It will be a complimentary offer. We will integrate Signavio into the BPI layer. We want to be the trusted partner on that journey. We can start immediately with the move to the cloud, and then on the way start transforming businesses, and start the process redesign.”
Whether SAP calls it Run Simple, Conversion, or RISE, the underlying challenge stays the same: The S/4 Hana release change will continue to be top of customers’ mind for quite some time. While most SAP customers seem less than enthusiastic about the transformation, Christian Klein was quick to assure participants of the RISE With SAP event that this sentiment does not reflect everyday reality. “I’m hearing sometimes that adoption of S/4 Hana could be faster. Just looking at Q4, this is the fastest adoption curve we have ever seen for any SAP ERP release. Cloud is growing big time; S/4 Hana Cloud is the fastest growing cloud product. Some are claiming customers could move away from SAP – we checked, we really haven’t found anyone moving away. We’re making a lot of progress, and we’re very happy with our results.”
Just as a quick aside, customers have been moving away from SAP, which Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison impressively proved by listing 100 ERP ‘defectors’ from his oldest adversary during Oracle’s Q3 post-results analyst call.
Holistic business transformation
“We will not only reinvent how businesses run, but with our new offering, you will be able to drive your holistic business transformation. RISE With SAP is the gamechanger you deserve,” said SAP CEO Christian Klein during the RISE With SAP event. While we have already seen some holes being poked into his narrative – for example, we now know that system integrators and some other partners are not covered under the one contract Klein promises as part of RISE – this could still help many customers on their way to the cloud and S/4 Hana. And at the end of the day, this is what any of SAP’s initiatives, regardless of the name or assigned color, should be about: Helping customers. While I am not convinced that RISE is the gamechanger that SAP promises it to be, I do think it could be beneficial in some migration endeavors if more information is provided to customers – and maybe that’s enough.
This is the second article in a two-part series! If you would like to read the first one, click here.