Much of the SAP-related news this week focused on SAP's competitors and the wider enterprise software market.
Its high marks in CRM going forward were contrasted with questions about Oracle's CRM strategy, as I covered in Monday's Today in SAP blog post at SAPexperts. Oracle's overall strategy brought concerns from customers, according to a survey I looked at on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, SAP poached a key HR hire from Autodesk, and even the latest coverage of the company's sustainability program suggested that SAP's sustainability push correlated with employee engagement and business benefits.
And as if that weren't enough, NetSuite's CEO had some pointed comments about his company's ability to move across industries and segments better than his counterparts at SAP and Oracle. It all emphasizes that -- of course -- to understand what's up with SAP, it's good to keep an eye on what it's competition is up to, too.
For more about those stories, as well as links to dozens more, check out each of my Today in SAP posts below, including a key sentence or two from each. Below that, you'll see some of the other content we've posted at SAPexperts, including blogs that are free to everyone as well as subscriber-only content across different SAP focus areas.
Nelson's argument is essentially that as cloud computing grows in reliability and is more widely adopted, it will be easier for NetSuite to be adopted by bigger companies than it will be for SAP or Oracle to be adopted by smaller companies.
The office features a lot of modern ideas promoting wellness -- an emphasis on exercise and healthy eating, more open spaces, more plants and natural lighting. But it also reflects SAP's efforts to drastically revamp its image over the last few years.
Long thought of as an emotionless behemoth, SAP sought to be more personal in recent years. Its new CEOs -- especially Bill McDermott, a salesman's salesman -- hit the press tour virtually year round to keep SAP in the business conversation. It released a new logo with a modern color scheme and gradient. It started throwing itself into the conversation about the biggest buzz words in the industry: cloud, in-memory, mobile, and analytics.
One of the major facets of this image facelift was the acquisition of SuccessFactors, the HR cloud vendor with sleek marketing and an energetic chief executive in Lars Dalgaard. Unlike most acquisitions where SAP completely absorbs the company, its identity, and its brand, SAP continues to leverage SuccessFactors, keeping the brand alive and Dalgaard visible. And it sounds like with the investment made in this building, SAP is hoping to keep the vibe within the company a distinct, progressive one as well. And with SAP's increased efforts with sustainability and in thecommunity, it's a symbol that the big company is trying to harness some of SuccessFactors' ideals and tendencies.
Here are the stories I covered in this week's Today in SAP blog posts at SAPexperts:
The major story of this week in SAP was the company's earnings report, which drew commentary all over the board. Some found the negative elements, like reduced margins. Some touted the significant growth, including that in new areas like cloud, in addition to the impact HANA made. Others pointed out, as I covered in Wednesday's Today in SAP blog post at SAPexperts, that SAP made signficant internal investment, to the tune of nearly 10,000 new employees, and that was clouding some of the numbers.
The important thing to remember, of course, is this is merely a snapshot. SAP has so many items in motion right now, all of which appear to be facing some degree of success. We won't know for sure what degree of success the company will reach; the only thing we do know is that making grand statements one way or another is a little dangerous at this stage.
This time next year? Then we might have a different story. And I'm not just fence straddling -- I'm merely pointing out that SAP is in a pretty unique point in its history. It's unlikely that SAP will be facing the sweeping changes in 2013 that it did in 2012. Most industry observers seem to believe the acquisition push is over, at least for major, strategic acquisitions. A change in overall strategy is unlikely; what's more likely is a doubling down on HANA, cloud, and mobile pitches. Where we are right now, after the announcement of the Business Suite on HANA, is the culmination of many, many actions (and even more dollars) invested by SAP to move the company and its customers in a new direction. Now it is simply looking to execute.
If in January 2014 SAP is having wild success, it's probably fair to expect more of it. If there are struggles, it's probably fair to assume that some changes need to be made, or there was an error along the way. But in January 2013, there is still a long way to go.
Here's what I covered in this week's Today in SAP blog posts at SAPexperts:
So what's the future of SAP CRM? The company certainly isn't abandoning it. It rolled out CRM on HANA before it put the Business Suite on HANA. As with other initiatives, SAP is banking on HANA providing a major impact on SAP CRM users.
There are times when businesses need to invest heavily in themselves, and this appears to be one of those times for SAP. It made strategic acquisitions, streamlined its product offerings, and now has to deliver.
There will be plenty of development opportunities -- SAP has been catering developers more than ever lately -- and maintenance certainly isn't going away. It's just about knowing what to develop and what to maintain.
Here are some of the new pieces at SAPexperts this week:
After all the excitement about SAP putting the Business Suite on HANA last week, this week was more of a downer. The German economy's problems, combined with SAP's Q4 financial reports, made for a rough week for SAP's stock price and reputation. The stock dropped about $5 a share from where it started the week, trading for just over $77 a pop at the time of this writing.
I was initially surprised by the stark drop, crediting it mostly to the German economy in my Today in SAP post on Tuesday. I am a stock market amateur however, and as I read more and more stories on Wednesday, it looked like the drop had more to do with SAP than it did Germany (in fact, as you'll see in the Wednesday post, other analysts blamed SAP's performance in the Americas).
Time will tell (of course) whether this will be a sustained drop, or merely a bump in the road. Most analysts had positive things to say about the Business Suite/HANA development, so you'd have to think that that (and the alleged record pipeline SAP has built for HANA) will lead to better performance in the future. Either way, SAP has a call scheduled for next week to pore over some of the details of the report; perhaps some light will be shed then.
Take a look at this week's Today in SAP blog posts at SAPexperts:
I'm no stock expert by any means, but my reaction to this is that SAP's drop is more influenced by the issues with the German market than its own underperformance. Missing operating profit by 0.04 billion euros isn't the end of the world -- I certainly wouldn't equate it with a five percent stock drop.
Reaction has been all over the place, as I covered in my Today in SAP blog at SAPexperts this morning. Industry whiz Dennis Howlett at ZDNet noted that his estimate was about 2/3 approval, 1/3 skepticism; I found a more positive vibe when monitoring the #SAPonHANA hashtag, as well as my own Twitter following, during the press event.
Positive or negative, this move was both and obvious and necessary one from SAP's perspective. It doesn't make any sense for SAP to have put so much effort and so many resources into HANA and not have it be the backbone of the company's efforts. Whether SAP is able to convince customers about the total cost of ownership gains by switching to SAP hardware is another question -- and one we will likely see answered, in at least a preliminary way, at some of the conferences this spring. I'd expect it to be a major topic at the SAPinsider BI 2013 and Admin 2013 conferences (co-located) as well as, of course, SAPPHIRE.
What does it all mean for you as an SAP professional? It's probably too early to be sure, but the proliferation of HANA is likely to touch most, if not all, SAP careers. Keep yourself up to date on HANA information and keep your finger on the pulse of how HANA could affect you.
Here are my SAPexperts Today in SAP blog posts from this week:
Certainly simplification of technology is always welcome. It also fits with SAP's goal of reaching a wider audience, but it's interesting to see them, in this case, applying it to their current user base.
It's really hard for me to picture a business world that doesn't involve the keyboard. Of course, there was one before computers took off. If there are no keyboards, how do we communicate to the device? Does Siri get significantly (and I mean significantly) better?
SAP was smart to move in the trajectory it did. It's been barking about the importance of the developer community and providing an unprecedented (at least in my experience) amount of training to get people involved early on. Now that the technology is ready, they are hoping there will be an infrastructure of SIs and developers to help adoption along the way.
And here's some of the new content from SAPexperts this week:
HR Tip #5: SAP Learning Solutions -- Unable to View Course Appraisals [Blog]
The Ultra-Modern Man Makes a "Game-Changing" Move [Blog]
Following the Debut of Business Suite on HANA, Oracle Must Be Saying, "Hey, Wha' Happened?" [Blog]
SAP Announces Availability of the Business Suite on HANA [Blog]
In an abbreviated first week to the new year, the editors at SAPexperts wanted to share our best content from 2012 before we turn our attention fully to 2013. In doing so we found a few trends -- some surprising, some not. For example, Solution Manager readers were very excited about the latest and greatest with 7.1 -- the most popular articles discussed new features that came with the latest Support Packages. In SCM, DMS was a big topic. IT folks remained focused on ABAP, while BI professionals -- surprise, surprise -- were fascinated by HANA.
I encourage you to check out each editor's blog post discussing what was most popular. If you're a subscriber to any of our SAPexperts hubs, you'll be able to click through and access the full content; if not, you'll be able to see abstracts and introductions to get an idea of what the authors discussed.
Here is each blog post about the best in 2012 at SAPexperts:
As 2012 winds to a close, I'm left thinking about how big of a year it was for SAP. The company experienced strong financial quarters, performed well in the public eye, expanded its reach with consumer-focused apps, said HANA 16 million times, and advanced itself in the cloud, mobile, and procurement areas via acquisition and integration.
It was a big year for us at SAPexperts as well. We unveiled our completely redesigned website, pushed out more content than ever before, and delivered it in a greater number of formats.
What will 2013 bring?
For SAP, I think their focus will be less on acquisition (at least, on acquistions of the size of Ariba) and more on continuing to get their message out there. SAP will look to show more and more successful HANA implementations, and also better explain its cloud and mobile roadmaps, which still are causes for confusion for many customers. Its biggest challenge will likely be riding the positive vibes its had in the press into a year when there will likely be far fewer press-worthy events -- fewer unveilings and acquisitions and massive upgrades. It will be all about execution.
And for SAPexperts, it will be building upon the site we've developed and continuing to provide the best SAP content on the Web. We're excited to keep it going.
Here's what I covered over at SAPexperts in my daily Today in SAP blog, recapping the big story in SAP as well as providing links to many others:
One of the foremost SAP bloggers, Alvaro Tejada Galindo, aka Blag, often compares different systems to measure their effectiveness one to one and see where they stack up. His latest effort is to measure HANA against MySQL and PostgreSQL.
It's no surprise to see SAP try to change the focus from MDM to another term (both enterprise mobility management and mobile enterprise management are used in the press release). And that's because MDM is frequently proclaimed to be dead.
But when you think about this one-to-one interaction point, it becomes clearer: The more SAP can interact with different types of people, the more they can see what makes these people tick, what they care about.
It's been a refrain of sorts for SAP: They are constantly seeking new users.
This week provided a steady reminder of that goal as I curated content for the Today in SAP blog posts I write at SAPexperts. Whether it was their increasing efforts in small and midsize, or attempts to make a wide range of apps that are used by a variety of users across different organizational units, SAP's goal is clear. They want to be in everybody's hands.
And to do so, they know they don't have all the answers. In addition to their co-innovation strategy, leveraging partners for the next great idea, they've also developed an internal program for entrepreneurship and brought in outside employees to help build that culture.
For SAP to succeed, they know that have to be more pervasive. It's not about appealing to companies -- they need to appeal to people, plain and simple.
Below you'll find links to each of my Today in SAP blog posts with a sample statement or two to entice you to click over. (Pretty sneaky, huh?) Each post contains the story of the day as well as links to other SAP-related content from around the Internet.
It's also a concern from the sales point of view: If you're a company with a lot of cloud DNA, so to speak, you might be able to better position yourself as an expert in the area, and a company with no ulterior motive.
Many of us who observe SAP had believed that the company couldn't keep snapping up other companies and expect to continue reporting big profits -- at some point you have to generate new ideas internally.
I was struck by the employee-centric nature of the six apps. If you look at all of them -- including SAP Interview Assistant, SAP Learning Assistant, and SAP Manager Insight -- they are all intended to give employees access to actionable data at any time.
And here's what new over at SAPexperts this week. Pay special attention to the first entry, a free excerpt you can download from our special report on SAP HANA, the most popular piece we've developed this year.
It was an awfully slow week for SAP news this week. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. TechEd in Vegas is well in the rearview mirror. The hybrid SAPPHIRE/TechEd show (which Dennis Howlett previews well here) is next week.
And of course there was that whole election thing here in the US.
As a result, I spent most of this week's Today in SAP blogs at SAPexperts covering what SAP's competitors were up to. Workday and Microsoft stole the enterprise show this week by making consecutive announcements about big data analytics endeavors.
I found more concern about Microsoft's plans than Workday's. Microsoft's time horizon is troubling -- it sounded like their full suite wouldn't be available until 2014 or 2015, while HANA and Exalytics are available now. Will Microsoft be able to find a unique way to position its product -- similar to how it has with Windows 8 and Windows Phone -- to make up for being late to the market?
Here's what I covered in this week's Today in SAP blogs at SAPexperts:
"I've always believed the people who were nicest to the people who were least in a position to help them are the kind of people I want to be around, and that’s the kind of person I want to be. It’s always something you’ve got to work at.”
"If you can do something really fast but it doesn't look good or isn't fun to use, no one is going to buy it. On the other hand, if something looks good but is ultimately flimsy or empty of actionable content -- or is always breaking down in the background -- it will be similarly disappointing."
This week the news -- especially in the US -- was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and its associated weather systems that disrupted life and business throughout much of the eastern half of the country. It even disrupted my Today in SAP blogging at SAPexperts -- if you didn't know otherwise, you might have assumed that there was no SAP news on Tuesday.
Of course, there was: as former Sybase CEO John Chen announced he was leaving SAP. I threw my two cents in on Wednesday (see below); but it comes down to this: If you don't feel appreciated enough, or challenged enough, you're not going to stick around. I think -- and this is pure speculation -- that's what happened with Chen. It reminds me a bit of something the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder went through this week.
(Stay with me here.)
The Thunder, one of the championship contenders in the NBA, had been trying to sign James Harden, either their third- or fourth-best player, to an extension. Harden had been the best player on his college team at Arizona State a few years ago, carrying the team to the NCAA tournament, but when drafted by OKC, he reverted to a role off the bench in which he eschewed the spotlight, while superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook soaked it up. Rather than accept a below-market deal to remain the third wheel, Harden pushed for more and more money in negotiations. The Thunder not only balked, but they immediately traded him to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets, in turn, signed Harden to a contract worth about $25 million more than the Thunder had offered -- not chump change. Meanwhile, Harden immediately becomes the best player on the young, upstart Rockets -- the leader who is largely responsible for the team's future, much like he was at Arizona State.
Connecting this story to SAP in a hopefully-not-too-forced analogy, Kevin Durant would have to be HANA -- the no. 1 focus of the team/company, on which the future of the team/company hinges. He is awesome. (He may even represent the 10,000x performance upgrade HANA offers.) Meanwhile, SuccessFactors, and Lars Dalgaard by extension, would be Westbrook. A little more mercurial, a little more enigmatic -- but a vital piece to the puzzle. If Westbrook fizzles out, the Thunder are going nowhere. If Lars isn't the cloud visionary SAP thinks he is, the company is going to have major, major problems. And Harden would be represented by John Chen (but without the beard) -- massively productive, but ultimately not a piece of the long-term future.
There's only so much attention a company can pay to its various initiatives, much like there's only one ball a whole team can share. And much like Oklahoma City set its priorities, I think SAP did the same. It promoted HANA breathlessly for going on two years now. It propped up Dalgaard in front of investors, customers, the media -- anyone who wanted a piece of him. But Chen stayed in the background, continued to be productive by all accounts, and ultimately wasn't valued in the same way. Now he's free to go off to his own version of the Rockets, perhaps a smaller company or a start-up, but one in which he can wield more control.
Don't cry for Chen, by the way. If my analogy is right at all, he'll be wildly successful -- after all, Harden scored 37 points with 12 assists and six rebounds in his Houston debut.
Here's what else we covered in the Today in SAP blogs at SAPexperts this week.
Lars Dalgaard got so much attention when SAP announced the SuccessFactors acquisition that it made you wonder: What does the company think of other executives whose enterprises were acquired? If they saw Chen as somebody who was an integral part of their future, they would have promoted him more both in responsibilities and in public face time.
I'm not saying that's the goal of Jam, but for Jam to be successful SAP has to nail this element of delivery. It has to be something that works within business processes -- something that replaces current functionality in an easier way.