… and action! SAP users voice their concerns at DSAG
With more than 13,000 square meters of exhibition space for partners and suppliers as well as a 5,000 capacity keynote hall, not to mention over 20 additional break-out rooms, smaller theaters and conference rooms, the DSAG is one of the largest gatherings of SAP users, suppliers and partners in the world. This year’s theme was ‘…and action!’, a reference to Hollywood but also a concrete demand to SAP that they now need to take action on a number of points that have been causing concern to SAP users for some time.
2025 and then what? The S/4HANA migration deadline raises more questions than answers
One of the major points addressed in the keynote speech was a reference to 2025 – specifically, what is going to happen? At our stand, we were often asked about S/4HANA migration. Almost everyone is either in the planning stages or starting to worry about migrating to S/4. And given SAP’s attitude, there are things to worry about!
SAP’s response to the DSAG’s demand regarding S/4HANA left a lot to be desired. They provided no response other than their standard statement that support for ECC will end in 2025. This does little to help customers who are struggling with the multiple issues of complex/costly project planning and future hardware costs, massive business process changes and the uncertainty of a not yet fully tested solution (so far only about 8% of companies have migrated).
The importance of S/4 migrations did not go unnoticed by the suppliers; almost every stand in the exhibition hall had S/4 references and offers for migrations and various associated services. SAP’s own multiple presentations focused on introducing or reviewing different S/4HANA features, as well as customer explanations of how they had either migrated to, or implemented S/4 within their businesses.
The questions you asked us at DSAG: HANA, data management, and #gocolorful socks
At our stand it was no different – the first topic on the minds of visitors was around migration services that we provide, either to S/4HANA or BW/4HANA. Many of our discussions showed that companies are only starting with the planning now, and it was confusing for them to be bombarded with terms like greenfield, brownfield, system copy, selective data migration, and so on. We were happy to help explain what these mean but more importantly to show that we can also help by applying our colorful method – allowing them to choose precisely what and how they want to migrate without being forced down a particular path.
We also noticed significant interest in data management solutions such as DataTiering or retention of data after decommissioning systems. This is a natural concern when the storage costs for data in the HANA system are so much higher than they were on older forms of storage but we also noticed there was an interest in how to manage data outside of SAP as more and more companies bring in third party niche products to handle specific tasks. For anyone who wants to be able to draw upon all their available data – it’s key to have all of these sources available to them, something we’re able to provide with our Datavard Glue product.
We also found that many of our existing customers who were present at the conference took the opportunity to stop by the stand to either ask questions about our other products or to pass on their positive experiences using our software or services, or just simply to chat to us and pick up a pair of our highly prized colorful socks!
While SAP pushes for innovation, many customers feel left behind
The other hot topics that were hard to miss were Big Data as well as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. All three of the top cloud services providers (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) were in attendance, each hosting at least one or two presentations (from the dry to the entertaining – we’ll let you guess which suppliers managed which ones) to help explain how their services have been developed to run SAP, and why it is a preferential option to hosting on premise. But even though we have seen many of our customers starting to purchase new technologies, mainly forced by their business users looking for easy-to-consume and reliable data, most of them are far away from modernizing their IT and SAP landscape to keep up pace with changing user and economy demands.
We see that digital transformation is still an abstract topic for IT. Especially since SAP’s strategy on future common data models and integration is not clear to many customers. Many customers we spoke to wish for more guidance and help in building a roadmap for change, beyond technology. Overaged – that was a term we did not only hear in the context of old / outdated SAP releases and heavy amount of customization. Age and resistance to change are a serious showstopper for many SAP IT teams. People are overwhelmed by the speed and number of new applications and technologies that are being introduced, and not only by SAP. This makes it harder and harder to balance between keeping operations at a high level of performance and at the same time building a strategy for how the SAP landscape of the future should look. It feels a bit like a deadlock – it’s easier to do nothing and endure the pain than go through the pain brought about by such a fundamental change.
Talking from experience, we believe that changes should start with a detailed analysis of “here and now”. From there, we can build an individual roadmap which considers not only technology changes and needs on a technical level, but also puts the IT team capacity and user needs and requirements into the center of each project. Changes can be executed step-by-step / in a packed approach or as a project, while Managed Service offerings help maintain the balance between available resources and demand on ensuring high standards and performance in delivery.
Even though SAP continues to push for innovation and new technologies, many customers feel left behind and don’t know where to start. And it’s completely understandable, given the current fast pace of changes. That’s why we are here to relieve some of that pressure, give our honest opinion, guide and support when needed. We stand on the customer side until the work is done.