Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEO of SAP framed his summary of the Sapphire Now event ahead in a session with the Enterprise Irregulars on Sunday when he said they would emphasize mobile, in-memory and on-demand trends. Sure enough, there was plenty of all three. In a session with Bill McDermott, the other co-CEO, yesterday most of the conversation focused on mobile apps ecosystem and likely business models. I enjoyed “Demo Jam” where 12 teams presented their version of applications around SAP’s HANA, in-memory analytic engine. There were plenty of conversations and sessions around ByD, SAP’s still-evolving SaaS offering and functional on-demand point solutions.
More edge stuff: Denis Browne of SAP Imagineering talked about its Complex Event Processing engine and vision for integrating billions of sensors and devices in the Internet of Things. Jeremiah Stone talked about how a focus on sustainability based on input from a wide variety of customers across industries is allowing SAP to extend traditional safety, traceability and other features.
I like this outside-in influence on so much of SAP’s thinking.
But if there is plenty of innovation at the edges, the core still seems fairly static. The lightbulb still has not gone on that if on-demand functionality can be delivered for sub-$100 a user a month, there is little justification for on-premise price points to be 10, 15, 20x that. That if Apple and Google and amazon can build mobile ecosystems of hundreds of thousands of applications and games with a cottage industry of entrepreneurs, SAP cannot continue to magically expect its current SI and outsourcing partners to match that speed or those price points. If small teams can build fairly ambitious HANA applications part-time in a matter of days, SAP’s and its partner’s project time scales need to be similarly compressed. if on-demand benchmarks are showing frequent upgrades and importantly instant propagation throughout the customer base, SAP cannot afford to have old-school and grudging multi-year customer base migrations at the core.
That is SAP’s next big challenge. It has picked up a whole bunch of hammers and sickles as it innovates at the edges. It now needs to use them to bombard the core.