Why choose SAP BTP
SAP Teched 2021 is over. From November 16 – 18 you had the chance to watch a wide range of SAP selected session for your personal technical education. From the many sessions available, channel 1 was the best way to consume the content. For selected topics, SAP presented there in an easy to consume way the main sessions. Instead of registering for a session to be eligible to view it, everything on channel 1 was “registration free”. Just open the channel 1 page and start the stream. With this approach you could catch up on the latest news and anything slightly newsworthy. It was a curated continuous flow of announcements, embedded in an environment that made it feel like being at a real conference.
One of the sessions I watched in channel 1 was at the last day, actually one of the last sessions overall: “Enjoy Our Closing Show and Celebration”. The video can be found on YouTube. Questions form the audience were read and answered, as a summary of the event. One question got my attention. The question(s) was (minute 19):
– Convince customers to move from on-prem to cloud
– Why not move to cloud [because then you have much more capabilities and also agility]
As a cloud company, that is the type of question you’d kill for. I am confident that during the session preparation the SAP execs were briefed and knew what to say in case such a question was asked. The SAP moderators laid out the red carpet for the execs to answer (minute 20:06): “give us each your elevator Pitch to convince customers to move to the cloud”. And they had a lot to say. What followed is 8 minutes of SAP execs answering the question. Taking 8 minutes out of a 52 minute session for one question.
Let’s take a look at the answers provided. Somewhat difficult, as 6 execs had each time to talk, covering the several aspects of the area they are responsible for at SAP. But thanks to YT, the transcript is available. I’ll just reproduce (my summary of) the main quotes:
20:23: “they can uh really enjoy and use our intelligent technologies in particular”
20:58: “furthermore if you have a team of data scientists you can even leverage our hana machine learning toolkits and also our ai for your training inferencing and serving machine learning workload”
21:46: “it’s all about what’s your business trying to do what’s the goal once you get to cloud”
22:00: “what’s the benefits of standardization you know we’ve got better integration newer technologies more standardization cleaner data models”
22:37: “when we move to cloud we can accomplish this this and this and we can’t do that from where we are today that’s where the selling point is”
23:10 “it’s about agility and time to value as well if you’re if you’re trying to innovate”
23:18: “on premise it’s much more complex to say”
23:20: “I have an idea I’m going to go provision a system implement a solution test it deploy it into production all that has a lot of overhead when you’re dealing with it in your own on-premise environment whereas in a cloud environment you’ve got the flexibility the elasticity to do that”
23:50: “it’s fully about the speed of innovation”
24:46: “you need to start from the business value and that could be multiple things”
25:01: “your business needs to find out where’s the value proposition”
25:31 “these are exactly the unique value value propositions of cloud which one actually applies to your business that is something also that you need to find out”
26:24: “from an sap perspective we have to try to make it as frictionless as possible”
Remember: SAP TechEd is about SAP technology; it is not a general event about cloud topics. Yet, the answers are short of showcasing SAP BTP and its services. Besides minor mentioning of AI/ML services and the mobile start app, there is nothing. All answers provide great reasons why to go to cloud. The problem is: they fit every cloud. The exact same reasons can be brought up by every cloud or consulting company should go for AWS, Oracle Cloud, T-Systems, IBM, etc. Pick one answer and one cloud provider: it fits. If the SAP execs were prepared to answer that question, why did they failed to deliver an answer why to choose SAP BTP? And just in case there was no previous briefing on possible questions and answers, why do the SAP execs not defend their very own SAP BTP portfolio?
Saying that a customer needs to find its business value for the move to cloud, that the cloud offers better agility, speed of innovation, and that the customer has to find the reason in the business cases: these answers fit the “no shit, Sherlock” category. Its 2021 and SAP says to its customers: go and figure out the value of cloud.
When SAP announced SAP RISE I mentioned that one of the reasons of that product is to get SAP back at the table at customers when the transformation journey is discussed. Hearing the above answers, I get the impression that SAP was way too long not invited to any decision regarding cloud at customers. And if SAP came to the conclusion that their customers are at the evaluation phase to decide if and how to go to the cloud, then it looks like they are now talking via SAP RISE to customers that missed the digital transformation. Or SAP is listening to the many surveys among their customers where cloud is listed as being evaluated or not started. Don’t take these surveys too serious. Those are often answered by the SAP centric people at a company. And way too often these only look at their SAP systems and infer that the company is not yet in the cloud. While at the same time the actual cloud decisions were already made, and the non-SAP stuff is going to AWS/Azure/etc. Customers are further in their digital transformation as many think.
At least one execs acknowledges this “I don’t think you need to convince any customer to go to the cloud it’s the destination is pretty clear that they’ve got to get there”. This is the killer argument and that shows that SAP is in serious trouble. The question is: how to convince SAP customers to use SAP BTP? And that question is not answered.
Look at the answers. SAP says that they have AI/ML solutions. But: who doesn’t? With cloud you get faster innovation, agility, time to value. SAP – just to remember – not so far ago asked you to send a fax to get access to their cloud. They offer a free tier only recently. It’s a cloud where innovation for the client is actively blocked because of their sales teams wants to get their share in the deal. Cloud Foundry in BTP is not always super easy, especially compared to developing web apps with Azure Web Apps. Getting up and running with web apps with SAP involves way too many tasks or is too costly. For instance, a custom domain with SAP BTP costs you 100€/month. With Azure Web Apps you get this for 65€/month, and that includes the costs for the app. Developing and running a UI5 app on BTP is doable. The same for analytic apps. Besides for the narrow SAP specific use cases, like Steampunk, why should someone opt for the SAP way to develop apps in the cloud?
That cloud solutions should work, that they provide value automatically, that is no news. Those are the basics. This is what customers expect. When you follow SAP’s adventure in cloud, you know that SAP did not deliver on this expectation for years. And you also know that finally the pressure was so high that SAP had to address all their cloud issues and SAP is trying to solve this and is working on making it better. SAP BTP cannot compete with the real cloud offering from the hyper scalers. And still, they try to. SAP wants to make cloud frictionless. Good to hear, but today it’s not even close. Maybe they know this and are therefore only answering on the high-level topics. Dear SAP, don’t forget: you are in the cloud business for over a decade, the customers had enough time to take a look at your cloud portfolio and gain experience.
If SAP cannot compete with the hyper scalers when it comes to their cloud portfolio, where can SAP score? For instance, business services. Or applications that deliver additional value. Top of my mind: Portal service. Launchpad service. Both allow companies to provide a single point of entry to a wide range of apps. SAP BTP is one of the few providers of a mobile platform. Document scanning for receipts. Integration. Workflow. SAP has several services in their BTP portfolio that can add tremendous value. Why are those not mentioned as a reason why to go to cloud, and SAP BTP? I doubt that the execs are unaware that these services exist. So why did they not talk about them?
Some have a competing offering at other hyper scalers. For instance, SAP BTP document information extraction is great for processing receipts. Microsoft offers a similar service on Azure: form recognizer. Guess which one is cheaper (9 US$/1000 documents compared to 201€). But why not sell this service as a reason? Use the BTP service, be able to scan millions of documents, get trained model by SAP that are x times better than others? Create entry pages to all your apps via BTP Launchpad service. Translate all your business apps with Translation Hub. Offered by the company that knows how to translate business apps. That’s the kind of answer I’d expect. Considering that the question made it super easy for SAP and the execs to showcase the possible business scenarios and use cases where SAP BTP can shine, I am disappointed by the fact that they failed to give reasons why to choose SAP BTP for the cloud.
So far the answer to the question why to choose SAP BTP is for SAP: because you have to. You are so locked in to our ERP system, that you have no other choice than to go to the cloud with us. That cannot be the answer.