SAP held its Capital Markets Day in New York and shared slides which showed impressive numbers across the last 7 years – like the one below
But like in the new movie about the unsung NASA “human computers” who worked the complex math behind the first US manned mission to space, I wish SAP had also shared what its own customers have been doing. Without much fanfare, over the same time frame they have been chiseling down the massive burden of SAP Nation.
In my books I have identified several “coping strategies” its customers launched on their own. One of them is third party maintenance. Rimini Street reports it had only 15 SAP customers in 2009 and that has grown very nicely to 300 in 2016. If you look at an even more popular strategy – what I termed “ring fence with clouds”, the number of end users at SAP customers using Salesforce, Workday, Taleo, Office365, SAS OnDemand, ServiceNow, DocuSign, Zoho account for revenues much larger than SAP’s own cloud revenues. Add to that “two tier ERP” customers using NetSuite, Microsoft, Plex and others at subsidiaries while continuing with SAP as their corporate solution. When it comes to industry functionality, customers have been doing large customizations and adapting capabilities from niche vertical application vendors. Many more customers have moved to private or public cloud and global network infrastructure. Still other have revisited their application management outsourcing services.
SAP and its partners often try to mask these efforts and throw darts at messengers like me for pointing them out.
Lord, its THEIR customers, not lepers!
They should be thinking ahead to when SAP will finally have S/4HANA ready a few years from now – not just in core functionality, but also in industry features. When S/4 is a viable public cloud option, not just an on-premise application. Would it not be nice to have a large portion of its customer base already comfortable with the public cloud, with integration experience across multiple vendors, with industry functionality that has not stayed dormant for a couple of decades?
Like in the movie, SAP’s customers were living with an ugly past and are making lemonade out of lemons. The number of customers with “coping strategies” is accelerating rapidly, by the way, inspired by the success of early adopters I had profiled in the books.
To me, that's something to celebrate, not try to keep quiet about.