Published by Tobias Hofmann on

10 min read

Guten Morgen

Liebe Sorgen

Seid ihr auch schon alle da

Habt ihr auch so gut geschlafen?

Na dann ist ja alles klar!

Jürgen von der Lippe

With much ado SAP announced their SAP RISE event. Main part was a 1 hour presentation with CEO Christian Klein – other sessions are available on demand. Several news were announced during the presentation. Most important was SAP RISE – the Microsoft collaboration part felt like it was added out of culprit. Before the event many asked about what the event is, what ground breaking news SAP is going to talk about. In SAP’s own words:

RISE with SAP offers a complete and comprehensive single package – business transformation as a service.” [source]

SAP RISE (or is it RISE with SAP?) is an offering from SAP to help bring customers to S/4HANA Cloud. Basically, it’s a bundle of mostly already existing services that SAP sells to customers. The clue is that instead of just bundling services, the goal is to help a customer with their digital transformation.

The offer

SAP puts this together in a nice image: a company starts, gets their business processes analyzed, migrates and uses SAP products to become an intelligent enterprise. With a single contract and contact (SAP) a customer puts intelligent into its enterprise. Target is S/4HANA Cloud. S/4HANA on premise is also possible, but main focus during the presentation was S/4HANA Cloud.

Figure 1: Source

The transformation journey starts with analyzing the processes with the goal to simplify them. This will involve some serious consulting work. It remembers me of the Leonardo Discovery workshops. AFAIK these were a success regarding the demand. Yet failed to deliver tangible results. Customers had to learn that the consulting offered by SAP was not the best one: what else to expect when SAP does not have IoT/ML/AI/Process experts with the expected minimum knowledge in a business area? A BI expert on the bench forced to participate in a Leonardo workshop, what could go wrong? When it came to implementation, both sides had to learn that the portfolio is good enough for classic ERP, but not for innovative processes. For those that remember: HCP IoT Services v2 even had a security issue by design. Guess why SAP bought an IoT platform. At least with SAP RISE, the consulting problem is solved as now partners are going to do the work.

Adding partners

With partners doing the consulting for the digital transformation, SAP throws in the towel and admits that they cannot support their customers in the digital transformation. Of course, for once simply because of demand and supply (people), but also – and mainly – because of lack of knowledge of the needed domain expertise. Now, you can start a transformation at any customers by just looking at the low hanging fruits: standard processes that were too much customized over the years. This is one of the examples that Klein mentioned during the event. Optimizing these is easy. It gets complicated for processes that represent the DNA of the company. These are not standard processes. The highly customized, tailored processes that ensure that a company has a competitive vantage, that makes them excel against others. These processes you cannot standardize. Here you need special knowledge.

The special knowledge you find at boutique consulting shops. The ones that only employ a few dozen consultants. That have a very specific customers base and process insights. You need these to ensure that the digital transformation works. Not just for the overwhelming part of the ERP, but precisely for the special processes. BPI like the one part of RISE offering helps but cannot substitute these people and their knowledge. How are these partners added to an SAP RISE project? Looking at the list of consulting partners announced with SAP RISE, it’s the big ones. These are good in bringing a customer from legacy to S/4HANA, no doubt. They have their own practice. But do you really want Accenture or IBM do the transformation of your very core DNA processes? That processes you need to run 5% more efficiently than your competition? How is SAP RISE going to assure that the long-term consulting partners of a customer are included?

Including small partners can be a big plus for SAP RISE. To be honest, the smaller partners may excel in their field, but it is very hard for them to acquire new customers. When it comes to S/4HANA implementation projects, they are out. That’s something they cannot deliver. Not from a capability point of view, nor workforce wise. A large SI admitting they cannot deliver the best consulting to a customer and adding another partner? And loose revenue? Regarding revenue: why would a large SI opt for SAP RISE and bring SAP to the table and lose money? Will they bring their cash cow customers? Considering that their large SAP customers have a different price list and access to resources. Transform a country specific ERP 6 landscape sounds like a reasonable scenario. Will this be used to onboard / train junior consultants at B-grade customers? Who is the target group of SAP RISE? Judging from the event keynote, its everything from startups and very big companies. I guess in reality it will be mostly customers in the middle. Something with around 5k to 20k employees and active in a few countries.

Digital transformation

Why is SAP offering RISE? Is it for the good of the customer? Taking SAP services and consulting out to ensure the customer gets to work with consultants it already has experience with? To ensure that SAP is not the bottleneck? My guess is that SAP understood that customers are going to do the digital transformation with or without SAP. SAP wants to be part of the journey and get a seat back at the meeting table during this very important decision process. SAP services left enough scorched earth behind. Now it’s time to try a new start. With SAP being the SPOC, they will take the blame for problems (rest assure, the money SAP takes for this from the contract will be enough to compensate for this). But they are part of the digital transformation. And that’s better than receiving suddenly an order for Concur without knowing why.

Regarding SAP’s cloud solutions like SuccessFactors, Concur, Ariba, Field Glass, etc. It is odd to only see Ariba added to SAP RISE. Besides the consulting part, being able to sell several solutions in one contract is maybe the biggest benefit SAP RISE provides. And let me emphasis: FOR SAP. Yes, bundling S/4HANA with SAP BTP Services and SaaS solutions was long asked for by … everyone. I have no idea what took SAP so long. If you go to S/4HANA, having at the same contract BTP cloud services makes sense. You’ll need it either way. Why SAP made it so hard to customers to get these in a single deal? With RISE, this problem is solved. Partly. You get Ariba (SAP Business Network Starter Pack). Where is SuccessFactors? Concur? Their CRM, Qualtrics, etc? The integration between S/4HANA, the BTP services and Ariba seems to be handled by an included RDS. You pay for it without knowing and seeing the RDS being performed. It’s like fairy dust: the integration will work. I did expect to see all SAP solutions integrated, but then again, the fairy dust is clued together with the one domain model (ODM). And that is far from being complete. Let’s hope as soon as the ODM supports other solutions and processes completely these are added to RISE.

A big problem SAP has today and in the future is that with the digital transformation, companies start to look, analyze and re-evaluate their processes. The biggest, if not the single most important vantage SAP had over its competition over the last decades was that everything was connected. Integration between different areas (HR, FI, SD,…), LoBs was not a problem. It was all available in the same ERP system. With S/4HANA and SAP’s cloud strategy, customers are forced to look at their processes like HR, CRM or SRM. Surprise, surprise, for the first time in decades they are looking what is available outside SAP and learn that others do the same, better, cheaper. SAP adding their SaaS to the RISE contract will help SAP to convince customers to stay in the SAP universe. After all, especially for non-core processes, price and effort is the main reason to switch or stay. Adding those to the contract will make customers stay inside SAP sphere. And yet, Ariba is part of RISE. Where are SuccessFactors and the others?


Who can benefit from SAP RISE? Smaller partners for sure. They have the problem to be part of larger S/4HANA projects simply because they cannot lift such large projects alone and are mostly not treated as equal by large SI. Who did ask for SAP RISE? Large SI may have asked for it to maybe have it easier to convince customers to buy their services. They can use SAP’s offer to close a deal. My guess is that the larger a partner and customer, less likely it is for them to chose RISE. And customers? Should be the same relation between large and small. The 20% TCO saving is appealing for small and medium companies, and they get all in one contract, meaning: less time needed to manage 20+ contracts. Game changer was mentioned several times by Klein in the presentation. Is SAP RISE a game changer? A real game changer is a win-win situation for all. We have SAP, partners and customers. SAP RISE must be a win-win-win for all. Looking at the offer, I see 70% win for SAP, partners 20% and customer 10%. SAP RISE is a game changer for SAP, not necessarily for customers and partners. Short: SAP RISE is an offer made by SAP because they need it. It’s SAP chance to get involved in the transformation process at clients. SAP can ensure that not only S/4HANA is bought, but BPT and Ariba (and maybe one day SSF, Concur too). SAP RISE can help to cover the fragmentation of SAP’s solution portfolio by hiding it in a single contract.

Sales event?

With SAP RISE in its current state being mainly made by SAP for SAP, I wonder why the announcement event was made public. SAP marketing fired on all channels to ensure everyone slightly interested in SAP knows about the event. Most people I talked with were confused and asked why SAP did do so much ado about it. The message of RISE is mainly one for a FKOM keynote: fire up sales force and make them go to clients and talk about a new offer. Honestly, what was in there for a customer? Besides they now know why sales from partners is reaching out to them? And for most partners? That SAP has a new offering and that they are too small, too focused, too local to be part of it from the start? Or did SAP need the noise and reach to ensure customers know about RISE and be informed firsthand before sales asks for a meeting? That a customer would not even let SAP talk about RISE in such a scenario? Hard to believe.

Klein said it took SAP 1 year to come up with RISE. If it takes one year to bundle existing services, add some fairy dust and exclude a substantial part of the SaaS portfolio: I, as a shareholder, have questions. As always with this kind of offering, we have to wait. I guess at SAPPHIRE NOW SAP will show more customers, sharpen the offering, maybe announce adding more solutions. Now its SAP turn to answer my questions at SAPPHIRE NOW.

Let the world know
Categories: SAP

Tobias Hofmann

Doing stuff with SAP since 1998. Open, web, UX, cloud. I am not a Basis guy, but very knowledgeable about Basis stuff, as it's the foundation of everything I do (DevOps). Performance is king, and unit tests is something I actually do. Developing HTML5 apps when HTML5 wasn't around. HCP/SCP user since 2012, NetWeaver since 2002, ABAP since 1998.

1 Comment

Kesari Katakam · January 31, 2021 at 21:42

Thanks for sharing not only critical review but also providing solutions/perspectives and subliminal cautions Tobias. Especially coming from the SAP’s own experts shows how this organization’s culture lets keep the greater good of customers as the core priority.

I particularly liked the suggestion of including niche but small players in the program. I believe SAP eventually will include many partners as far as our information goes being a partner ourselves and closely working with SAP in several S/4HANA engagements. May be a RISE specific partner certification would be a helpful thing in its are of each of the infrastructure, basis, custom code and functional areas specifically. As already we have seen automation, best practices coming in each of their areas.

Ensuring the safety of customer’s proprietary business knowledge( the secret sauce ) is also another important dimension that is addressed, and having same that too big SI players across competition is a fair concern, however, if the goal is digital transformation above and beyond what a company is doing, I think it’s more of a race better won quickly. Reminds me of the OpenData Initiative, and Selective Data Transition initiative, Automated Custom Code remediation, and such similar things bringing niche players together to help customers in a faster way.

Regarding doubts and questions, on who benefits most with RISE, I think S/4HANA has seen several colors, green, blue, brown, red… and has been like an “Elephant in the dark” with several “Blind” men around trying to figure out what it is.

With the COVID-19 and the ECC support being made available for long, already customers have gone to “Wait and Watch”, so I believe SAP spending this past year and coming up with an initiative to “LEAD” the transformation journey is indeed a positive one… its a responsibility more than an opportunity for SAP to identify the least common denominator of all the services, products, integrations, and evolve its bundles, and acquisitions into a real modern CLOUD ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT SUITE.

Otherwise, the partners will do what they have seen in the dark, developers will still use their old skills on the most modern platform on the brown-field, side-by-side will be put on side forever, CAP and RAP will ignored over maintaining the good old Custom CRAP ! . So I definitely feel or wish that SAP does this right and hope the master minds inside and outside of SAP cometogether to make it work !

At the end obviously it comes with one star, RISE* (*Conditions Apply )

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