How the channel will drive SAP S/4 HANA adoption

ORLANDO – SAP will be relying on the channel to promote and explain the business value of its new Internet of Things-focused SAP S/4 HANA solution to Canadian organizations.

The German software maker has had a challenging time communicating the benefits of the HANA-based product since it was introduced in February this year, however, some attendees and partners at the Sapphire Now conference here believe SAP has finally got it right by focusing on customer needs rather than the technology itself.

“In general Canadian companies want to be the first followers, they tend to be far from the bleeding edge. And that is a good thing because it has protected the country’s industries from market upheavals,” said Bob Elliott, managing director of SAP Canada. “But I think we’re in the cusp of a massive upgrade cycle from R3 to S/4 HANA.”

SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA or S/4 HANA. The solution is essentially the result of SAP’s re-writing of its enterprise resource planning software, Business Suite in order to optimize it to run on its HANA in-memory platform. Whereas other solutions are unwieldy, S/4 HANA comes in a smaller package that allows administrators and users to analyze data faster and cheaper.

During his keynote speech yesterday, Bernd Leukert, a SAP executive board member, also announced the cloud edition of S/4 HANA. It enables customers to take their business process such as finance, accounting, controlling, procurement, sales, manufacturing, plant maintenance, project systems and product life cycle management to the cloud.

“Organizations now have the opportunity to deploy real hybrid scenarios – combining on-premises and cloud solutions – for unprecedented IT flexibility and accelerated business innovation,” said Leukert.

S/4 HANA now has some 370 customers around the world, but one of SAP’s challenges with the product is around communicating its benefits and explaining why businesses should migrate to S/4 HANA.

“For years customers have known SAP as an ERP company and then they are turning around and saying this is the new thing companies should be using,” said Jeremy White, head of strategic alliances and marketing at Red Solutions, a global SAP solution provider and consultancy firm. “Naturally many customers are confused. But I think SAP is getting it right this time by focusing on the business benefit and not the technology.”

“The channel is a big part of bringing home the message that S/4 HANA will enable customers to make better business decisions simpler,” said Rodolfo Cardenuto, president of global partner operations and Latin America Region at SAP.

He said initial questions about S/4 HANA were around enablement.

“Our channel partners will assure customers that S/4 capabilities are ready for on-premises deployment in the 25 industries we support and in the cloud for lines of business,” said Cardenuto.

He said organizations contemplating S/4 adoption need to ask themselves two questions:

  • Are we ready to adopt IoT?
  • Are we ready to digitize our business?

“It’s no longer about B to C (business to customer), it’s now C to B,” said Cardenuto. “Consumers have the power to determine the winners and the losers…Businesses need a platform that will not only enable them to communicate and interact with customers one-to-one but also one-to-many.”

In Canada, SAP will be targeting enterprise organization but will also double efforts in connecting with small and medium sized businesses, said Elliott.

“The Canadian market is mainly SMBs that don’t have legacy systems so they can be more nimble and ready to adopt new technology. There are very few large deals over $1 billion,” he said.

Some Canadian corporations, Elliott said, already expressed interest in S4/HANA like New Brunswick Power Corp., Loblaws, and McInnis Cement.

“But now SAP partners like Deloitte will also be going to the white spaces like mining, distribution, healthcare and credit unions where we are seeing a lot of interest and opportunity,” said Elliott.

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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