SAP's CEO Bill McDermott and his broader executive team were consistent in their core message at this year's SAPPHIRE event; the main message: "Simplify everything. Do Anything." SAP's strategy is increasingly centered around cloud delivery, an integrated suite, and sreamlining customer support for large multi-national customers. There is no questioning the strategic importance of the in-memory database technology that SAP has been developing for the last decade. HANA has been front and center at SAPPHIRE since its release in 2010; and continuing to demonstrate the platforms' traction with customers will be key for SAP to prove their viabilty in the cloud computing market. Having long time (and marquee) customers such as John Deere, ConAgra Foods and eBay elegantly articulate their success with HANA certainly helps.
Suites Win — Simple beats Complex
There were several notable quotes I keyed in on during McDermott's keynote that kicked off the event. The first was regarding software suites, "In the end, the suite always wins. Always has. Always will." McDermott went on the diss the current crop of best-of-breed vendors insinuating they were commodity plays. However, a key reason that precludes best-of-breed vendors from "breeding" is they are typically acquired by vendors like SAP. While suites typicall do win in large organizations, IT modernization is long overdue amongst many of SAP's core customers. McDermott sees HANA are the simplifier, and the way to deal with the "intractable CEO issue of our era" (complexity). SAP Fiori (revealed just last year at SAPPHIRE) will be a core element to reducing complexity; SAP will lead with Fiori, and announced that it will make the UX and SAP Screen Personas software free with underlying licenses of SAP software. The announcement was not a surprise, however, it is a positive move and will also help with mobile adoption within SAP's customer base.
In additon to "run simple" messaging, there were key product related announcements. SAP announced Simple Finance — a comprehensive and enterprise-grade finance solution based on SAP HANA. The offering covers the complete capabilities of the SAP Finance Value Map and will help to modernize aging financial applications through its more simplified, easily consumable, cloud based solution offering. SAP also made sure to showcase the newest member to its executive board, Bernd Leukert who with Vihsal Sikka's departure has global responsibility for the development and delivery of all products across SAP’s product portfolio including applications, analytics, cloud, database and technology, and mobile.
I came across an excellent summary of SAPPHIRE at SAP's community network. If you are interested in a very detailed summary of announcements, I would suggest taking a look. What jumped out at me from the summary was the absence of mobile solutions. The empahsis at SAPPHIRE was definitely around the HANA platform and SAP's intentions with the cloud. However, Rick Costanzo, SAP's EVP and GM of mobile solutions is likely to change this. The BlackBerry veteran is well aware of SAP's mobile opporunity and is bullish on his company's outlook. SAP's 3.0 version of its mobile app development platform (SMP 3.0) looks as though it will become a core component to SAP's EMM solution (Mobile Secure) and can now be cosumed more easily than prior disparate SAP mobile development solutions components (SUP, Mobilzer, Agentry, etc.). SAP's mobile executives also provided me with a preview of Mobile Place, the company's portal to manage, secure and publish mobile apps. While on its surface, the solution appeared to be just an app store, I see it becoming more integrated with the company's mobile content management solution (mobile documents).
While mobile is too niche to be front and center a SAP's SAPPHIRE event, it will become more prominent moving forward. There is no question that many of SAP's large customer are investing in mobile solutions and I personally expect to see mobility being increasingly taken into consideration for a growing number of SAP's core ERP applcations — Fiori is just one of the first steps.