It’s been a quarter century since the predecessor R/3 product was designed. So much has changed in the world since. The shop floor is dotted with robots and wearable technology. Utilities are evolving to smart grids. Auto insurance is more about telematics. Retail and banking are about omni-channels. The connected car and home are realities and shaping expectations of enterprise application experiences. Global growth is coming in BRIC and other emerging markets. I could go on. Will S4’s functional footprint reflect this new world and by when?
So much has changed at SAP itself in that quarter century. It was a sleepy, rural German company with one major product, R/2 moving to R/3. Today, there is the core ECC. There are industry variations. There are acquired BusinessOne and Business Objects customers. There are more recently acquired SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur, Hybris, Sybase and other customers. There are ByD and All in One customers. Will S4 be a “rainbow coalition” of these conflicting interests or will some customers feel orphaned?
In that quarter century, countless other enterprise software vendors have attempted next-gen products. Mainframe and AS/400 vendors tried to move to open platforms. Many client/server vendors have tried to move to the cloud. Many vendors disappeared in trying those transitions. Customer bases have suffered through many long “forced marches”. In contrast, newer vendors like Workday can migrate customers to newer releases in a matter of hours. Will S4 offer automated migrating and testing or will the 1.5 million strong “union” of outsourcing, customer and SAP staff continue to grow?
The expectations and the caution around a product like S4 are astronomical. The pressure within SAP itself is tremendous. Dr. Hasso Plattner has said “If this doesn’t work, we’re dead. Flat-out dead. It’s that simple,” Since S4 was announced in early February, the questions I have heard are many but they can be distilled down to dollars and euros. Where will S4 show business benefits – not just the vague “speed” and “simple” talk from SAP? When? And what will it cost to get there?
I plan to address the questions in a relatively short eBook. I will listen to what SAP has to say at Sapphire to supplement my on-going research, and hope to have the eBook ready for summer reading. Stay tuned for details.
In SAP Nation, I had classified customers into four categories – Un-adopters, Diversifiers, Pragmatists and Committed. The eBook will look at S4 from the perspective of each of these groups. For some customers, it will mean they should accelerate their move away from SAP. For others, it will mean asking for much more detail about S4 from SAP and its partners and making careful, detailed financial and migration plans.
If you have not read SAP Nation come get your free copy at a reception Rimini Street is hosting during Sapphire (register here). Or get your copy on left for your trip to Orlando.
The book documents the $ 200 billion annual burden on SAP’s customer base. The hope is S4 will dramatically shrink the burden. Will it? The eBook will explore the promise and the challenges as SAP opens its next chapter.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)