2014 proved that SAP can play "in the cloud", but they still need to get their mobile house in order ...
S/4HANA's Big Roll out
To no one's surprise, this past week's SAPPHIRE conference was all about S/4HANA, the next-generation ERP suite that SAP launched this past February. The company's CEO Bill McDermott spoke with conviction about the importance of digitization and customer centricity, and made it clear that S/4HANA was going to deliver on the "simple promise" and help businesses become both data-driven and seamless.
S/4HANA is definitely a big deal, as it has a notably reduced footprint which will reduce complexity and simplify migration. But the speed of the platform is what will be the most appealing (3-7x the throughput and up to 1,800 times faster analytics, according to SAP). It remains to be seen how quickly the company will be able to capitalize from its robust and cloud-optimized business suite. SAP did a superb job this year in getting key prominent customers to participate on stage at SAPPHIRE — of course, the risk is that the spokesperson goes "off script" — this seemed to happen when Walmart's EVP and CIO Karenann Terrel proclaimed "I hope to see S4/HANA delivered in my lifetime ... it’s on my bucket list." Ouch. SAP needs to quickly prove that migration can be simple and beneficial. Progress is being made (the company revised its Q1 S/4HANA customer count to 400+ (from 370), but the bet on S/4HANA is so large, that the pace will need to increase quickly.
Google and Facebook
McDermott provided some new details on the future of his company's partnership with Google, saying that it will "make work easier for people". Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (via video) described it as "a great day", and explained how SAP software integration with Google for Work was a priority for the company. Schmidt went on to say: "What's great about this first step, with all the big customers that we jointly have, is that we are now able to show the power of web and mobile computing and the power of all that data and computation that SAP has been producing for years."
There were no real new details pertaining to the partnership with Facebook; however it is clear that the companies have been collaborating together since last summer. It appears as thought they have made progress by leveraging S/4HANA to enable businesses to build on-the-fly social media marketing promotions and target Facebook users with customized advertisements.
There were other notable announcements at the event, including a new CRM digital for customer engagement (DCE) application (initial 30-day free trial then $29/user/month), as well as some clear progress on the IoT front — however, the remainder of this post will focus on what we learned about the company's progress in augmenting its Mobile Secure product portfolio.
Rick is Running
SAP snagged a true mobility veteran in Rick Costanzo who has been running the company's global mobility BU for just over a year. Costanzo also is responsible for the company's Telco business (a recent reorganization called for the two BUs to merge) — however, the reorg. along with the departure of several key mobile executives, raised some eyebrows. After meeting with several key mobility executives (including Rick Costanzo), the party line was that the BUs were not only similar in size, but were better together. Could be. But, SAP needs the newly consolidated Telco and Mobility business units to enhance its delivery scale, increase agility, generate portfolio synergy and improve profitability. This is precisely what seems to be in the works, with a realigned go-to-market strategy, and a dedicated enterprise mobility sales organization. This is good progress considering Costanzo's short tenure.
Mobile Secure, Apps and Key Partners
SAP is hinting at further integration of its development platform (SMP) with its Mobile Secure solution — this makes sense, and seems to be direction that others are moving in as well. The company also announced partnerships with Innovapptive and Sitrion to complement its custom mobile app platform; both offer prepackaged mobile apps and leverage S/4HANA's mobile services. SAP continues to benefit from its partnership with Mocana, and alluded to new synergistic partners that will likely be revealed in Q3. SAP continues to de-emphasize its Afaria brand (smart), and is leading with the right messaging: security. However, differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult for all enterprise mobility vendors — in this vein, SAP should be more aggressive with showing its customers that has been successful in unifying its disparate development platforms (SUP, Syclo, Mobilizer) and showcase its content and application management capabilities.
One last take away — key SAP mobility executives seem to be working well with key ecosystem partners such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft. In my view, the company's customer footprint in the enterprise is more valuable than it realizes; this puts SAP in a excellent negotiating position with these larger and highly sought after partners.
View the 2017 Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Research Outline to learn more.