This is the first Sapphire I am missing in a very long time – probably in a decade or so. But thanks to the high quality live streaming video provided by SAP, and twitter – I felt I did not miss much . I woke up early, fed my dogs, brewed some coffee and sat down by the kitchen table to watch Bill McDermott’s keynote. Bill did not wear a tie – and I nearly fell off my chair !
Now, Bill is one of the best speakers amongst enterprise SW CEOs. And the settings, videos etc are totally world class. But despite having those two HUGE advantages – I finished watching the keynote feeling that SAP failed to capitalize the opportunity to seize customer imagination fully.
SAP’s biggest strength and biggest weakness is its huge and varied portfolio. There might not even be anyone employed by SAP who can talk intelligently on all those products, even at a high level. From the keynote’s perspective – it was a bit all over the place. I think Bill had a lot to cover, but in the process could not spend enough time to meaningfully cover anything . But that said – I give him huge credit for keeping a 90 minute keynote to 60 minutes. And when I suggested on twitter that he should aim for 30 minutes next year – he agreed ! For a speaker of his caliber – I doubt it will take more than thirty minutes to make an impact.
The concur demo was great. The User experience part is truly a breath of fresh air for people who are used to SAP GUI. It could have been a whole lot nicer if Bill could also point out how predictive analytics on hana could make it even better, or how it integrates with other SAP solutions.
S4Hana part was on the underwhelming side. This is a product that is close to SAP’s heart and for the most part – its success is what the company apparently is counting on. It was mentioned briefly in the middle of the presentation. There wasn’t a customer case study – not even SAP IT as a customer – to make the point. For the most part – the big ding on the keynote was that the only customer conversation was the under armor story, which SAP has told many times over in the past. I was honestly disappointed to not see a big cross section of customers showcased. I am hopeful that SAP will make amends in the following keynotes.
On the partnership front – SAP had two big names. Google and Facebook both add to the coolness factor of SAP and those two companies would probably benefit a lot from SAP’s enterprise credentials. That said, it was not clear what the Facebook announcement was all about. It sounded like someone read some prepared notes. I am looking forward to details on that. Facebook has a LOT of capabilities to mine data – and uses an assortment of technologies for its big data use cases. Very curious to see where SAP fits in.
I loved the emphasis on data driven enterprise using Hana. Makes total sense – assuming a few things. Hana should be more affordable and less exotic – Not many enterprises will put a petabyte of data in main memory today. So pricing model for Hana should probably get off its “champagne” level to more of a “budlight” level, and automated dynamic tiering of data (making use of less expensive tech to store data infrequently used) should be available . All those hadoop/spark type partnerships and SAP’s own Sybase technologies can help. From twitter conversation with Hana product boss Mike Eacrett, it looks like all those things are on their way.
Bill did call out Hana Cloud Platform. I honestly think that HCP should have been the theme this year at SAPPHIRE. It could totally be the unifying layer for all the ideas he explained today. Again, I am hopeful that one of the next keynotes will go into that in more detail.
Looking forward to see what else SAP has on offer this week. Congratulations to Bill and team for a great start to the conference and good luck !