The UK and Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG), on the opening day of its annual Connect conference in Birmingham, disclosed research that showed, once again, that SAP’s latest thing commands scant user attention.
Only 6% of members from 467 user organisations saw SAP’s $8bn acquisition of Qualtrics in 2018 as of potential business benefit, while 43% were simply unaware of it. Since the acquisition was announced at last year’s conference, that 43% demonstrates a remarkable level of indifference.
The research also showed that 9% of members see the supplier as diminishing in significance as a business partner. And although 70% are using, or planning to use, SAP’s latest-generation ERP (enterprise resource planning), S/4 Hana, only 10% are using it. However, those active user organisations rated the S/4 migration process either good (44%) or excellent (10%).
In his keynote speech, UKISUG chairman Paul Cooper saluted with good wishes the recent departure of Bill McDermott as CEO of SAP, and welcomed the “return to the co-CEO model” represented by the appointment of Christian Klein and Jennifer Morgan.
“The relationship with us, SAP’s customers, will need to be top of mind for the two new CEOs,” said Cooper. “Customer trust and confidence is a very fragile thing. Topics like indirect licensing, the end of life of ECC6 and lack of clarity around the roadmap for S/4 Hana have not helped the customer relationship.
“Above all, we as customers need clear communication from SAP. Take the thorny topic of indirect licensing, or digital access, as SAP calls it. Behind closed doors, SAP gave us lots of detail on the Digital Access Adoption Programme. However, the announcement it made and subsequent documents were light on detail.
“We, with other user groups around the globe, were really pleased with the work we’ve done on digital access. Through the programme, SAP is giving customers a way to measure the financial impact of adopting the digital access licensing model and seems to be providing a level of financial predictability. However, there is still uncertainty. Why? Because communication was not clear and transparent.”
Cooper also voiced concerns in his keynote that there could be trouble ahead as users try to migrate from ECC6 to S/4 Hana.
“Put simply, there is a finite number of partners with the skills to help us migrate to S/4,” he said. “If we all decide to jump at the same time, there won’t be enough of them to go around, and more than likely their rates will go through the roof and we will see quality decline.
“I’ve heard many members say they fully expect SAP to extend the 2025 maintenance deadline for ECC6. There seems to be a potentially dangerous stand-off – the question is, who will blink first? Hopefully, with its customer-first strategy, SAP will start to think about this and blink first.”
And as regards Qualtrics, Cooper said: “Twelve months ago, on the opening day of our conference, SAP announced the acquisition of Qualtrics. We wondered what our members thought, and most were ambivalent on the topic. The stats tell us SAP needs to communicate better. As customers, we need to know how Qualtrics fits into the SAP portfolio. We need to know what the integration plans are and what the benefits of the acquisition are for us as customers.”
On the same stage, Jens Amail, managing director, SAP UK and Ireland, hailed British SAP customer innovation over the past year, citing Barclaycard, Dixons, Dyson and BT as examples.
He did so as the supplier announced a comprehensive new deal with BT.
According to a press statement, BT Group has selected SAP S/4 Hana Finance. “Supported by the SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Analytics Cloud, S/4 Hana Finance will leverage SAP’s finance capabilities and provide a platform for future innovation,” the statement said. “Implementation started in 2019, with go-lives expected from 2020 onwards.”
BT is also migrating to a range of SAP cloud applications, including SAP Ariba procurement platform, SAP Concur for expenses, SAP Fiori UX and Opentext invoice management.
BT has also selected SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Fieldglass to “transform learning, talent acquisition and management of contingent workers”.
Amail added: “We have an unrivalled track record here, with eight out of the top 10 global communications companies running SAP Finance and Supply Chain solutions. Our proven transformation roadmap will help ensure BT Group realises these benefits early and becomes an Intelligent Enterprise.”