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Food for thought at SAPPHIRE Now as SAP UKI UG releases customer research

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy May 27, 2014
SAP UK&I UG customers express concern about their ability to understand SAP's business data roadmap. Lackluster HANA appeal must be a concern. How SAP addresses these concerns will shape customer spend on SAP data technology.

SAP's big data bus
In the run up to SAPPHIRE Now 2014, there will be no shortage of opinon about what SAP should or should not be doing and saying.

Early into the fray comes a set of SAP UK and Ireland User Group survey findings that poses important questions for SAP's management. Key points from the survey:

  • More than half of SAP users (54%) didn’t think they have the necessary skills or technology to make effective use of all their data
  • 87% stated there was now a focus on getting more value from their data
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) were using or planning to use SAP’ business and data analytics offerings.  However only 15% were currently looking at HANA
  • 39% stated that they didn’t know whether the in-memory computing capabilities of SAP HANA would benefit their organisation’s future business/data analytics strategy.
  • Just over half of respondents (51%) believed that SAP hasn’t been clear in communicating its business and data analytics product roadmap to users

And from the blurbs: “Big Data continues to be one of the most talked about IT topics, yet it is clear that many organisations still face a challenge in getting more value from their business data,” said Craig Dale, chief executive of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group. “Considering this, it is understandable that many SAP users have invested in, or are looking to invest in, the company’s business and data analytics offerings. The next step for these organisations is ensuring they are effectively using these products and maximising their technology investment. At a time when data processing speeds are a concern, it is interesting to note that only a limited number of users were currently looking at SAP HANA.”


  • The pragmatic approach to data implied by these survey results should give SAP plenty to chew over. Right now, the data analysis market is awash with vendors eager to show customers new ways of visualizing data as a way to encourage enterprise wide data consumption. SAP is in the mix with Lumira and, on the UI side Fiori. However, momentum stock darlings like Tableau are eating everyone's lunch in the departmental space and it cannot be long before they scale to meet enterprise wide demands.
  • SAP's challenge comes in making data more easily consumed from its existing and ageing BOBJ solutions while finding ways to infuse data visualization goodness. That will not be an easy task when weighed against competitive economics.
  • It must be a worry to SAP that so few of its UK and Ireland customers 'get' where the HANA value derives. SAP has done 'speeds and feeds' to death. The time has come for the company to showcase not a handful but many HANA based applications that make sense for the bulk of its users. These could be bite sized apps, business topic specific or more wide ranging. Whatever SAP chooses to show, the time has come to appeal to the early majority.
  • Questions around roadmap cannot be left forever. The last couple of years, SAP has been very light on this general area. Concern expressed now will translate into customers looking elsewhere unless SAP comes up with something that's understandable, actionable and eye catching for delivery in the next 12-18 months.

As a side note, it is interesting that this cadre of customers is not so much thinking about 'big data' but what I call 'little data' - the stuff that their SAP systems already spit out. Taking heed of this customer message could pay substantial dividends, provided the roadmap makes both business and economic sense.

Disclosure: SAP is a partner at time of writing. Jon Reed and I will be attending SAPPHIRE Now, filming a range of customers and spokespeople on conference topics. SAP is meeting most of our T&E for that event.

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