I believe every vendor should be proud of successful customers. Both Apple and Microsoft use SAP in different parts of the enterprise. With recent partnering announcements with Apple, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella making an appearance at SapphireNow, I have seen SAP execs and fans talk up both the relationships. There’s pride and then there is hype.
First of all, leveraging brands is common across industries. Delta serves Starbucks coffee, Audi offers Bang and Olufsen sound systems, Keebler offers cookies with M&M candy. Consumers like the reassurance of big brands collaborating. But imagine if you had to pay a hefty premium for that collaboration or you had to jump through hoops to get that combination. You would think twice.
My question is why is SAP only now leveraging Apple’s mobile capabilities or Microsoft’s Azure data center and machine learning expertise? It has had wild swings in its own mobile strategies and has lived with primitive data centers compared to what Microsoft, Amazon, Google have. So, if the transition to whatever SAP delivers with Apple and Microsoft is smooth and affordable, good but bear in mind SAP may change its mind again soon.
Also, learn from SAP’s previous such initiatives with big tech brands
Exactly a decade ago, SAP announced its Duet initiative with Microsoft. Back then I called it “wine after its time” and asked “why Microsoft Office and SAP R/3, both a decade old at that point and dominant applications in most corporations had not (already) been tightly integrated." Duet was only marginally successful because options like SaaS solutions like Google Docs had started to blossom, and Duet was overpriced and also because Microsoft was starting to emphasize its own ERP products.
Or go back, two decades to the joint venture with Intel called Pandesic to develop “e-commerce” capabilities. Again marginally successful.
Regarding Apple as a customer. SAP will periodically, as it did at Sapphire last week, bask in the phenomenonal success Apple has had. CEO Bill McDermott said “the whole’s most valuable company loves our software”. Ask anyone who follows Apple closely. They would highlight Foxconn's incredible delivery record, Tim Cook's and Fedex's supply chain sophistication, Jony Ive's design teams, their retail leadership under Ron Johnson and now Angela Ahrendts, their app ecosystem of millions of small developers, as far bigger contributors to Apple’s success.
SAP is taking way more credit for Apple than it deserves. It often forgets it is just a transaction backbone, a back office system. And BTW I did not even mention Steve Jobs in who should take credit at Apple.