Lack of SAP HANA use cases stifling demand among ASUG members

SUMMARY: After three full years in market, SAP HANA should be doing well. But research among ASUG members tells a different story. Three-quarters of those who’ve not bought struggle with creating a viable use case

SAP HANA SparksIt seems that SAP can’t catch a break from its users right now. Hot on the heels of licensing concerns by DSAG members in the German speaking countries, ASUG, the American SAP User Group published SAP HANA related research suggesting that of those surveyed (n=500)

Three-quarters of the customers who said they have not yet purchased any SAP HANA products say they can’t identify a business case that justifies the cost. That reason topped the next closest set of responses by nearly 40 percent (we allowed for multiple responses). Following that reason were skillset, roadmap and upgrade issues.

The results were also reflected among business partners who want to see better use case guidance. But 75%? Wow, that’s a big number, despite the fact SAP claims 3,600 customers. The other reasons quoted are to be expected, if unacceptable.

Looking on the plus side and specifically business benefit, ASUG found that:

Responses to this question from those who had implemented HANA went toward saving money or optimizing processes: SAP HANA helped companies optimize costs (34 percent), followed by enabling innovation for the CFO/Finance (25 percent) (the question allowed for multiple responses).

This has got to be depressing if understandable. SAP’s schtick on this has in part been one that says: ‘spend more with us to save overall in operations.’ But that’s not really an innovation. It’s an incremental benefit you’d expect over time. SAP’s problem though is that it spent far too much time ramming the audience with ‘feeds and speed,’ a topic its influencer panels consistently warned them against doing in protracted manner.

Equally depressing were responses around where people start their SAP HANA journeys:

65 percent of them said BW on HANA was the one for them. Following BW was Business Suite on HANA, HANA custom analytics, HANA enterprise applications, and either HANA Enterprise Cloud or HANA Cloud Platform.

BW on SAP HANA was always going to be an easy win given the time it takes to run reports. Crushing days into minutes and hours is a massive obvious win. What is less clear is whether those kinds of win turn into cash that can be released into other projects or process improvement. One problem I came across was that the massive speed improvements had put data analysts under incredible pressure as LOB started feeding them with many questions, not just the handful they’d been used to hefting.

It is difficult to see where the use cases will come from. BW on SAP HANA will continue to be an easy entry point but once they’re out the way – then what? The company wants to think customers will switch to running the Business Suite on SAP HANA, with the carrot of Simplified Financials (SFIN) in the wind. Those are stop gap measures.

SAP has to build out industry specific applications that meet genuine choke points or leverage the startup community to accelerate adoption of new, smart applications. While SAP talks a good game around the  numbers of developer engaged on SAP HANA, we have yet to see much evidence of how that’s being turned into sales.

The biggest problem comes in product marketing. SAP has clearly not settled upon much beyond BW and Business Suite as their main SAP HANA drivers:

ASUG received a wide, anecdotal range of comments that included questions about the business value—whether it hadn’t been realized yet or respondents just didn’t know at this point.

Customers want guidance and if it isn’t there or obvious then it should come as no surprise that customers are at best unclear and at worst confused.

ENDNOTE: SAP has produced a response to the survey results.

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Den Howlett
Following 20+ years in finance and IT related roles, Den Howlett became a freelance writer/analyst/commenter specialising in enterprise IT. He has been calling the vendors to account ever since.
Den Howlett

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Den Howlett
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