Sapphirenow 2014 is kicking off on Monday – and although I don’t work for SAP or an SAP partner now, I care a lot for the company and its ecosystem and thought I will jot down a short note on my thoughts on what I would love to see unfold.
1. Let the new leadership team have its own identity
Bill McDermott is a well known entity – so although he is now sole CEO with Jim Snabe moving to Supervisory board, I don’t think anyone thinks of him as a “new” leader. If anyone can chart a course for the new SAP, it is Bill.
Then there is Bernd Leukert. He is very well known inside SAP – but probably not as well known outside SAP. With Vishal leaving SAP abruptly and Bernd moving to Executive board – I saw a lot of commentary along the lines of Bernd being the new Vishal. I think this is a rather unfair expectation to set up. Vishal was a good leader but so is Bernd. But they are very different people . I would love to see Bernd explain HIS vision of how he expects SAP to develop over the next few years.
2. Project the bench strength
One of the few things SAP could have done better was to give visibility of its bench strength to external world. Its not that SAP doesn’t have bench strength. Rob Enslin, Steve Lucas, Michael Reh, Rodolpho Cardenuto, Bjoern Goerke ….and many others are capable leaders waiting in the wings. Its up to Bill and Bernd to shine the light on their leadership team and I am sure we will see more of it – if not at sapphire, then shortly thereafter.
3. Embrace channel partnerships
SAP can’t do it alone. SAP became an amazing ERP company because of a significant ecosystem of partners around them. Rodolpho is now in charge of the partner organization, and he works for Bill directly. I would love to see SAP double down on channel up and down its stack . How can I not say that ? – I am a channels dude myself now at MongoDB 🙂
4. Show product direction that matches the simplification message
Investors and analysts need a message – but partners and customers need clear product direction. When SAP leaders talk about innovation – they should give clear examples of what is actually getting simplified. Simplification is needed not just in products – it is also needed in how developers, partners and customers do business with SAP. Easy ways to download trials, simplified licensing etc are all good things to announce.
5. Stop charging for UI/UX improvements
Hopefully we will hear about Fiori and/or Personas being free. I am not holding my breath on it – and I am generally NOT a fan of making software free indiscriminately. However in the case of UI/UX – the poor reputation historically cannot be attributed to anyone other than SAP itself. So why charge for it to maintenance paying customers? Make it free and hopefully it drives enough Hana and Suite business to compensate on revenue front. Nothing will cheer user groups more than this announcement, if we get to hear it.
6. Explain what “SAP, the cloud company powered by Hana” really means
It is a great message – but now it is time to explain how this vision is going to be realized. SAP has a very heterogeneous cloud portfolio. Personally, I don’t think it is a bright idea to replatform all the acquired solutions to Hana. Customers who buy SaaS are buying a solution with a certain SLA. They don’t care what it runs on as long as the functionality satisfies their need, and SLA is met. Parts of all these solutions could probably have benefits that Hana can give. So a replatforming effort might be worth for carefully chosen parts of the portfolio. HEC, HCP, BI, BW on Hana, Suite on Hana etc are the ones that definitely directly correlate to “powered by Hana”. SAP needs to clearly explain the roadmap on transition to a full cloud company .
That is the technology message – but being a cloud company also needs a business execution part to be nailed. This is really hard for a company that needs to balance between on premises solutions and cloud solutions. So I am very curious to hear how SAP will lay it out.
That is it . I wish the very best to SAP – have a great SAPPHIRENOW 2014 !