SAP shifts to cloud focus, needs help spreading message

ORLANDOSAP AG has transformed itself into a company that can support its customers in any way they’d like to host software – be it in the cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid model, says Mark Aboud, country manager for SAP Canada.
In an interview at Sapphire, SAP’s annual conference in Orlando, Aboud said SAP has acquired a lot of cloud customers in Canada over the past 18 months with the multi-billion dollar purchases of SuccessFactors and Ariba. Add to that SAP’s new offering of HANA in the cloud and this isn’t your older brother’s SAP any more. But does anyone know it yet?
“We’ve transformed SAP into a different company,” he says. “We’re still known as a strong ERP company but we’re not as well known as the new SAP.”
SAP may be putting its money into cloud acquisitions and building out its platform there because it senses the winds of change in the software market. Analyst firm IDC Corp. reported the software market grew just 3.6 per cent year over year, less than half the growth rate for the previous year. SAP topped the list of software firms based on revenue and showed the strongest growth at five per cent. But certain segments of SAP’s business are quickly moving to cloud solutions – such as in the human capital management and customer relationship management space.
“A lot of focus is shifting to cloud, and the reality is that a lot of things are running in a hybrid environment,” says Oliver Conze, global vice president of product portfolio strategy for SAP. “The same is ture of our business model, we’re offering both on-premises and cloud.”
A hybrid environment fits the description of the IT mix at Regina-based The Mosaic Group, says IT manager Jeff Renwick. The potash mining company just finished an on-premises implementation of SAP Business Objects. But it is musing about the cloud for several of its software products and has already adopted for its CRM. But Mosaic can’t go to the cloud for everything, Renwick notes, some data needs to be kept on-premises – such as historical transactions that are sometimes required for legal reasons.
“We’d have to be able to access that data just as well as if we owned it,” he says.
Many of SAP’s customers are in industries that are the least likely candidates to move to cloud delivery models for their software – the financial industry, for example. It will take time for customers to move over, says Jorge Garcia, a senior analyst with Technology Evaluation Centres in Montreal. But SAP has to be there ahead of them.
“They have a lot of acquisitions, just like Oracle,” he says. “Are they moving quick enough? I’m not sure. It’s quicker than other companies. But its in the right direction.”
SAP claimed to the world’s largest cloud provider at today’s keynote speech. Snabe pointed to having 29 million users , many from SuccessFactors and Ariba. But users of applications aren’t the only measure of how big a cloud company really is, Garcia says, other cloud offerings like infrastructure as a service must also be considered.
“It’s hard to diminish giants like Amazon and even Microsoft,” he says. “I’m not sure just considering the number of end users wold be the ultimate metric to consider.”
The cloud strategy unveiled by SAP today signals a road map of its product consolidation and intention to put products in the cloud, and its made clear HANA will be the platform to support that. What hasn’t been outlined is a time line for when all that work will be completed.
Here’s what we know about SAP’s cloud products so far:
  • SuccessFactors BizX Suite will have key updates released this month. It will see the addition of an onboarding solution, a redesigned mobile app for the iPad, social employee referrals, localized support for 29 new countries, and advanced reporting with online dashboards.
  • SAP Cloud for Customer includes SAP Sales OnDemand, SAP Service OnDemand, and SAP Social OnDemand all renamed to the SAP Cloud naming style. Updates include a design overhaul, mobile sales quotes, ability to create quotes and sales orders from service tickets, and customer support on social media channels.
  • SAP Cloud for Financials was previously SAP Financials OnDemand. Updates this month include better integration with third-party systems, an updated Business in Focus mobile app to access information from external sources.
  • SAP Cloud for Travel was formerly SAP Travel OnDemand. Updates released this month include recording receipts by taking photos of them with smartphones, integration with Traxo for itinerary creation, better analytics to dissuade fraud, and multi-step approvals.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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