At a couple of cities during the Rimini executive briefing tour I have been asked what SAP customers can expect to hear in Orlando next week. I have honestly answered - my speculation last year was totally off. After CEO Bill McDermott excitedly announced S/4HANA three months prior, I expected Sapphire to be all about the new product. I was wrong as I wrote in SAP Nation 2.0 excerpted below.
This year, I do expect a show of sympathy for McDermott after his unfortunate eye accident. I expect SAP will highlight its recent Apple partnership (though a CIO groaned last week – here we go again with yet another SAP mobile strategy). And I expect it will showcase what it can sell today – Concur, SuccessFactors, BYD, HANA sidecar etc.
What I do not expect is for SAP to come up with ideas for how current ECC and BusinessSuite customers can dramatically reduce the burden SAP Nation weighs on each of them. As I wrote here, I am seeing customers do their own bit to reduce the burden with third party maintenance, ring fence and other “coping strategies”
I hope I am wrong about what SAP will share next week, but this year I am not taking any chances. I will be nowhere near Orlando next week.
From the book about last year’s SapphireNow
However, something strange happened at the event in Orlando.
McDermott, an eloquent speaker who is recognized as one of the best software salespeople in the world, waited
20 minutes into his kickoff keynote speech to talk about S/4.He joked about the unwieldy product name, and after a few minutes punted it to Leukert to cover the details on the next
day. In fairness McDermott was handicapped by the absence of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, who was supposed to
have presented with him. Sandberg had to cancel due to the sudden passing of her husband. Dave Goldberg. As a result,
McDermott shortened his keynote by 30 minutes. Yet if he had chosen to address the new product, there was still plenty of time to devote to S/4. In the future, this may well be called the S/4 “Sounds of Silence” speech.
Maybe we have all been spoiled by Apple product launches and in particular by Steve Jobs’ signature “one more thing” portion of the speech where he usually introduced something spectacular. McDermott’s “one more thing” came across as odd. He chose to have his staff demo the Concur (a 2014 SAP acquisition) travel expense management product. Now, travel administration is a nuisance in most companies but from the largest application vendor in the world you expect bigger initiatives. You would expect from SAP the equivalent of the Boeing Dreamlifter, such as solutions for thorny supply chain management challenges. Or he could have reached into the Plattner/Leukert book where they showcase examples of medical research insights. fraud detection, hurricane damage prediction for insurers and consumer sentiment analysis.
Three years earlier then co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe had told the same audience
“Give us the most complicated problem in your business that could not be solved due to lack of speed or volume of data and let’s see what we can do. You’ll be amazed at the type of problems we can solve.”