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]