Same procedure as last year?
SAP’s main sales and motivational event Sapphire is just around the corner: tomorrow. Besides changing the name by dropping NOW and not shouting the name any longer, the biggest change is that this year it is a hybrid event: virtual and on site. Good news for everyone that stays at home is that SAP will bring the event to several on site locations around the world. The series starts with the Orlando edition. Looking at the agenda and what is offered virtually, you might say that it is an on-site event with some selected session streamed. Virtually you get 17 sessions, and besides the keynotes on day 1, they are not really a reason to tune in. Waiting for the circus to arrive to a location near you and staying at home makes sense for several reasons:
- Last big SAP related event was just last week
- Private reasons (time, health)
- Attending an in-person event in the US means for most attendees: high CO2 footprint
- SAP’s short notice about the on-site event. I think it was roughly 3 to 4 weeks before the event starts that information about the location, hotels, agenda, etc. was published. Respect to everyone that manages to arrange approval & budget & travel in such a short time.
Last year I published my wish list for SAPPHIRE NOW and when you read the post, you’ll notice that many points were addressed over the last 12 month. Still, Sapphire is a good idea to write down what I’d like to see addressed and delivered in the next 12 months. What do I think will be a topic at the keynotes or should be a topic for the event and next 12 months? Of course, Covid-19 and the new way of doing business it brought will be a topic. The challenges in the supply chains are a real threat for many companies. The war in Ukraine caused by Russia will be a topic, or better: must be a topic at the keynote. How SAP and its software can help to mitigate the forthcoming humanitarian tragedy in the 3rd / 4th world needs to be detailed too. Besides these mandatory topics, I’d also like to see address at the keynote, the event and maybe the next 12 months:
SAP RISE. I confess I thought that RISE would be more dominant in all SAP communication in 2021. Yes, there was a certain hype in the first 6 month, no doubt. Since then, I haven’t seen and heard much about RISE besides some mandatory content like press releases. RISE was not the dominant topic in all SAP events since last Sapphire. Compare it to Leonardo / IoT when it was launched, it was impossible to escape the term. In comparison, RISE is here, but it’s not like SAP is pointing you to it all the time. When you buy a product from SAP, it is there: clearly on the price list. What I perceive as a lack of presence can also be interpreted as a portfolio that is missing important pieces. Did SAP add additional products to RISE? SuccessFactors, Concur, Fieldglass? Did SAP managed to get back at the cloud decision table at customers with RISE? Or are there still mainly partners like Microsoft that shape the cloud vision together with customers and call SAP after the main decisions were made?
S/4HANA Cloud. I’d also like to see RISE and SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public) customer announcements and profiles. So far, I have seen cases with rather small companies, departments (functional, country) going to S/4HANA Cloud public. That a large SAP ERP customers is going to S/4HANA Cloud public is something I did not hear about (yet). Is there a customer the size of e.g. Volkswagen, BMW or BASF moving completely from Business Suite 5/ 6 to S/4HANA public cloud and migrating their customizations, Z-coding to SAP BTP? So far the success cases and wins for S/4HANA Cloud public I am aware of could also have opted to go to Business ByDesign, or were already BBD customers. Where is the classic SAP ERP customer that moved to S/4HANA Cloud public story? The company that started with R/2, R/3, thousands of custom transactions, complex integrations, world wide operations and that are the backbone of the world economy? If I did miss it, please write a comment.
Learning. All time classic, mainly because SAP fails constantly to offer at least the same quality as the competition. At least the learning journeys got a recent update: 18 free learning journeys. Why took it SAP almost 6 months since TechEd to release those? Not to speak about free learning content for ABAP. And even that should be just the start. From my notes from the feedback I gave SAP: Microsoft Learn like experience, free/cheap access to systems, foundation training & certification, topic based certification (e.g. roadmap), training days, integration of exercises in an SAP system (run sample), functional content. At least SAP could provide new learning journeys constantly, like every month and not only when a big SAP event is planned (roadmap, open and public discussion). Maybe the Sapphire roadshow helps and each time an on-site Sapphire happens new content is added?
No-code. That is one of the areas where SAP announced and detailed the most over the last year. Yet, doubts are not eliminated. AppGyver isn’t going to solve the problem of missing services to consume. What about MDK or Fiori Elements? Will the tools merge, stay forever separate? Where is the investment done? I installed the MDK SDK and it was a breath taking experience, considering that MDK is at version 6.x and already available for a few years. Buying new software and ignoring the existing portfolio or failing to integrate / improve is a no-go. Important is APIs for No-Code, what happened to API first at SAP? It was a topic not so long ago, why did it stop? This is one of the most important parts when it comes to architecture, cloud and future readiness.
Portfolio cleanup. Solution Manager is gone. Not a big surprise, the roadmap was already dead. Now it is time to not hide these kinds of announcements. Communicate them proactive. A vision on how SAP thinks their software should be used in 2025 – 2030: scenarios, architecture, and tools. Everything that is not in the preferred or alternative list should be announced as EOL.
SAP as a real cloud company. I still wait for the announcement that SAP is a real cloud company, that their software is mainly bought by teams that were able to evaluate the solutions on their own, that started with a free tier, added services, and went live without contacting SAP Sales. Like last year: how about reducing SAP Sales workforce by 50%?
Feedback. Nice to see that SAP Customer Influence is back in business. I am still convinced that the web site is not the best approach to gather feedback. What I wrote last year is still valid as nothing happened in that regard: “Public roadmaps with capability to add feature requests (like on GitHub). Open discussion with customers, partners, SAP teams and the people that write the software. No more pointing to a complex, closed feedback process where solely SAP decides. We are not supplicants.”
SAP Mobile apps. SAP added Mobile start to its portfolio. An Android version is not available at the time I write this (SAP Note 3089234, Version 4, 01.12.2021). AFAIK the Android version should be released around Sapphire. Nevertheless, between the announcement of Mobile Start in August 2021 and an Android release, it is just too much time. I also did expect more mobile apps from SAP to address core ERP processes.
BAP (Business Application Platform). The communication from SAP regarding RISE sounds sometimes strange. With RISE, a customer buys SAP services and runs them on a hyperscaler of choice, e.g. Microsoft. SAP says however that they are offering cloud services with better enterprise readiness than others. Yet, SAP’s cloud offerings are running on hyperscalers. SAP’s solutions are running on top of these. If a customer opts for app services, integration or document scanning, a customer can chose between SAP’s offering and what the hyperscaler offers. SAP’s offering might offer a better support. But be honest: that does not make SAP offer a cloud. They are offering services that can run on different hyperscalers. So, why not bring more business applications to BTP? And why to offer those via a marketplace and let customers install them on their preferred hyperscaler?
Security. A topic that was discussed at DSAG Technologie Tage 2022. A problem is: no one has the guts to be responsible. Not SAP, not the partners, hyperscalers, and sometimes not even the customers. Result: in the SAP universe, HTTPS/TLS is still considered black magic. And this is just HTTPS. Everyone solved it years ago, except one small village of indomitable Badener still holds out against the invader. At least we can be happy that S/4 2021 supports partly OIDC. Application security is a different story. SAP Devs know learned OData, but not what it means when you expose an OData Service to the internet. This will be the source of many data leakages to come. I hope SAP will address this and invest in the security of not only their apps, but also enable the developers to create apps with a high level of security.
REST. Some points from my last year post are still open like EHP9 for ERP 6 or a prolonged support for S/4HANA (from 5 to 7 years). I am curious to see an explanation about SAP’s UX vision. The last CDO vanished suddenly and the new one is from the company we all look up to with respect and adore for their UX: IBM. At DSAG there were no news announced, at TechEd also not so many, maybe this time SAP will unveil something new? Not that I want, there are so many problems, SAP has enough to do to solve these.
That’s the list for 2022. Maybe it gets people to think or to address one topic in some other way. Tomorrow the SAP Stammtisch Baden will host a watch party (in German) for the main keynotes. If you want to join, register for the event. Be aware that the people attending the watch party are seasoned experts, not SAP fan boys/girls.