SAP created R/2, R/3, and SAP Business Suite (ERP/ECC 6.0), and every SAP partner knew what they had to do. Consequently, SAP customers benefitted from a homogeneous business ecosystem. SAP’s leadership was not a bad thing. The company was innovative and showed its customers the right direction. Its partners supported them on their way to ERP.
What happened to SAP’s leadership?
The turning point in this success story were not Hana or S/4. It was SAP trying to keep up with competitors by acquiring companies.
SAP was suddenly thrown into a market in which it didn’t have a unique selling point anymore. For example, cloud computing is a good idea, but other companies were faster and more consistent.
SAP has good answers to challenges in CRM, logistics, artificial intelligence, middleware, IoT, and cloud computing. But good is simply not enough.
It is a mental and organizational challenge to be successful in a market without a unique selling point – especially for SAP. It never learned to treat competitors as equals, and why should it have? SAP’s leadership was unquestioned for decades.
Cloud computing is the new trend, but SAP CEO Bill McDermott changes his opinion faster than the Hana database operates. First, he favors SAP’s own public cloud, then he may prefer a hybrid scenario with Hana Enterprise Cloud or SAP Cloud Platform. Before SAP employees can follow suit, he’s already decided that the best course of action would be to embrace hyperscaler clouds.
All of these options are interesting and exciting. However, they do not exactly help to clear up the confusion of many SAP customers.
Because of its actions, its lack of competency, and its broad product offering, SAP lost its leadership. Consequently, the whole SAP community has to suffer.
The ecosystem SAP community worked perfectly well in the good old days; when there still was a “Primus inter Pares” (a first among equals). Bill McDermott took that away from customers – it’s high time he gave it back.