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Are ERP customers ready for extensibility platforms? ASUG’s SAP BTP research underscores an emerging trend

Marissa Gilbert Profile picture for user Marissa Gilbert January 17, 2024
Summary:
ASUG research reveals SAP customers are embracing SAP BTP - but the data shows that success with SAP BTP requires more. Customers must assess what components are important to their organization, and get buy-in from key stakeholders. ASUG's Marissa Gilbert breaks down the key findings about getting results with SAP BTP.

Historically, ERP customers took the opportunity to fine tune their functionality via custom code. But in today’s business climate, over-customization has proven to be problematic – tying customers to older releases, and making cloud and AI initiatives more difficult.

To address these drawbacks, cloud providers offer development platforms that allow ERP customers to build and extend functionality, via their development tools of choice. But ERP vendors are also offering up their own integration and extensibility solutions, and SAP is no exception. SAP’s Business Technology Platform (BTP) is integral to SAP’s “clean core” vision. As more and more SAP customers consider a clean core transition for absorbing new innovations quickly, they have questions about how BTP fits in. Meanwhile, the umbrella of solutions under the BTP umbrella continues to expand. 

How well do customers understand the components of SAP’s BTP offering? Which areas of BTP are proving most impactful in 2024? And how is project success achieved?

Thanks to a major SAP BTP study, ASUG now has answers to those questions, and more. In collaboration with SAP, ASUG conducted research to gain insights into awareness, usage, and experiences with SAP BTP. The October 2023 study is comprised of 196 North American SAP customers who are ASUG members. It reveals that virtually all SAP customers (89%) are familiar with the platform and almost half (40%) are currently using it. What follows are insights from ASUG Members who use SAP BTP and what they would advise to their peers to get the most from their SAP investment.

Chart familiarity with SAP BTP components © ASUG

Become familiar

A successful SAP BTP journey begins with familiarity. Although most SAP customers are aware of the technology, almost half (46%) of the customers currently using it feel they are not fully leveraging SAP BTP. Understanding the various components of SAP BTP — including integration, analytics, application development, and process automation — is fundamental.

Because almost half of respondents do not feel they are fully leveraging SAP BTP, it is important to keep a few key things in mind. The first is that being familiar is different than being knowledgeable. SAP customers should explore the possibilities of SAP BTP to gain an understanding of its realities. Our research shows that customer expectations often exceed the results achieved with SAP BTP. Finally, SAP customers are not alone. It is important to seek help and knowledge about SAP BTP outside your organization.

“Start with understanding of the SAP BTP concepts, develop a short-term and a long-term roadmap, which should be aligned with internal and external stakeholders and partners,” an SAP customer said.

SAP BTP capabilities important to customers © ASUG

Why SAP BTP?

The research identified the importance of focusing on specific SAP BTP technologies that align with organizational goals. Understanding which components of SAP BTP are crucial to an organization proved instrumental for effectively leveraging the platform. Integration, analytics, and application development are the top SAP BTP features that are important to organizations. AI is also important to customers with more than a third (33%) planning to implement it. As one customer said:

SAP BTP is a broad, overarching name for several different capabilities and clarifying within the organization which capabilities are being used and evaluated is important to set expectations.

It is crucial that organizations understand their strategic priorities, gain alignment with the business, and maintain open and transparent communication when planning for their SAP BTP journey.

Outside support for SAP BTP implementations © ASUG

Include the right stakeholders 

Incorporating key internal stakeholders and external partners is important when formulating a comprehensive SAP BTP roadmap that aligns with strategic business priorities. Having an open dialogue and being transparent about the capabilities needed by an organization sets the stage for establishing realistic expectations.

Although support from partners boosts end results and expedites timelines, only a quarter of SAP customers seek help before implementing SAP BTP. Slightly less than a third (29%) seek support during implementations and 4% look for help after implementations are complete. SAP customers need help to maximize their investment in SAP BTP and should seek assistance before their implementation begins. Organizations are plagued by issues like knowledge and skills gaps, staffing shortages and constraints, and alignment and strategy issues. External assistance ensures the quality and success of implementations.

“Make sure you have a solid and responsive implementation partner and work with ASUG BTP experts to gain added insights,” one SAP customer said.

Build your team

The study identified a significant gap in SAP BTP expertise among SAP customers. Almost three quarters (68%) of organizations lack SAP BTP expertise. Empowering internal teams and partnering with knowledgeable experts, such as the ASUG SAP BTP Community Alliance, can fill these skillset gaps and drive successful implementations.

“There is a steep learning curve and resource requirement to get the most out of SAP BTP,” one SAP customer said.

It is more involved than it may seem at first glance.

Implement in phases

When implementing SAP BTP, it is important to prioritize the benefits needed most by the business. It is crucial to align the implementation phases with the advantages required to drive business success. Top SAP customer needs include connectivity of business applications and data, customization of SAP applications while maintaining a clean core, and automation of business processes.

“Take a gradual approach to implement SAP BTP features,” one SAP customer said:

For instance, start with process automation, integration, and better customer experience. Then, move further with data and analytics to support decision makers and add AI to further leverage the SAP BTP functionalities.

SAP BTP Benefits Anticipated vs Realized © ASUG

SAP BTP expectation gaps

The journey to implementing SAP BTP not only involves leveraging its benefits but also addressing the gaps between what customers anticipate and actually experience. The research demonstrates that SAP customers need a more strategic and comprehensive approach to bridge these gaps. For instance, while 32% of SAP customers expect AI integration, only 22% have realize this benefit. Similarly, 49% expect customization of SAP applications while maintaining a clean core, but only 27% realize this advantage.

For BTP deployments, strategy matters

Taking a gradual approach, focusing on essential functionalities, and creating a cohesive and inclusive  implementation strategy are crucial components for success. The key lies not just in adopting SAP BTP, but in leveraging it effectively to drive innovation, transformation, and sustainable success in the dynamic realm of modern business technology. Pursue a growth mindset that sets realistic expectations to unlock the capabilities of SAP BTP.

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