I did one of my last proofs of the SAP Nation 2.0 manuscript (available for preorder at Amazon) while watching the GOP debate last week. I should say I tried to do both, but the debate dominated my attention
In doing so, I could not help compare our nation’s democratic process to trends in SAP Nation
a) Plenty of history to draw on
The political process this time seems so un-Presidential – leaking of personal phone numbers, tossing phones into blenders etc. Our elections have always been about theater. If you can believe, we used to have duels where candidates actually got killed. When you read the history of our elections you get a very different perspective on what is happening now – and to not get too caught up in the theatrics.
In reviewing the S/4HANA launch I similarly used two sets of historical benchmarks. I compared the launch to that of the Apple iPhone, the Boeing 787, the Lexmark Genesis and a new Facebook data center. Specific to enterprise software, I compared to the path Oracle Fusion, JD Edwards’s OneWorld, Microsoft Project Green, Infor’s CloudSuite and SAP’s own NetWeaver and BYD rollouts. With that history, you get to see more clearly what SAP is doing well and not so well.
b) The choices are many and confusing
During the course of this election process, Americans will hear from (at least) 25 candidates. Our President is not elected by popular vote, but by an Electoral College. Those"electors" are chosen by popular vote on a state-by-state basis. My state, Florida has 29 electoral votes, California has 55, Montana only 3. Candidates craft messages which play in primaries in different states. And covering the whole nation takes months, so it’s a fools errand to predict so far ahead who might win in November 2016.
In writing 2.0, I was struck by how similarly complex SAP Nation has become to analyze or forecast trends in. The nearly 50 acquisitions and HANA have reshaped SAP in the last decade. SAP keeps launching other new products, many opportunistic, not necessarily requested by its long tern customers. In turn, its customers have countless cloud and other satellite applications. Its partner ecosystem has ballooned five times in the last decade with a new set of Fiori consultants, HANA startups. Most market watchers – analysts, user groups, media etc – are hopelessly outdated or siloed in what they know of SAP.
c) The spend is stupid crazy
Hillary Clinton – just one candidate – may end up raising and spending $ 2.5 billion on her campaign. The numbers are unfathomable.
In 2.0, I revised the estimate in the model of SAP Nation to $ 309 billion. That accounts for an expanded number of partners, end user training in a Fiori world, likely inflation for S/4 skills and other factors. But here’s the crazy thing – if I had burdened the model with SAP’s brags of hundreds of millions of users, for non-human users such as smart meters, and for amortization/writeoffs so common in that world, I could easily have shown it as $ 700 billion a year.
As I say in the book:
"What's the point of presenting an even gloomier model?"”
d) The angst is real
Whatever you may think of Donald Trump and whether he will continue to be a factor or fade out, he is tapping into voter dissatisfaction with career politicians and the state of affairs in Washington, DC. I got the same vibe from SAP customers profiled in the two books. Dennis Howlett’s reaction to the sample in the first book was it was a “canary in the coal mine”. Having read an early copy of 2.0, he recently wrote
“in conversation with Vinnie, I pointed out that in a universe of c.200K customers, finding 40,50, 100 who have serious issues is not hard. But it is the variety of issue and the recurrence of issues spanning years that stand out. It is also the size of company we are talking about and the logos that have been looking elsewhere.”
The results of the elections in SAP Nation will not likely be known by next November. But the campaigning started a while ago and as I conclude in 2.0
“Much better answers will come over the next few years as a result of the circle that SAP re-draws around S/4 and the thousands of circles its customers are drawing.”
It will be a fascinating – and frustrating – process to observe.