SAP Sapphire: What I'm Hoping to Learn

For those in the sourcing and supply chain world, SAP Sapphire could not come at a more inopportune time this year. Taking place the same week as ISM's and SIG's big events, Sapphire's timing could not be any less friendly to those in the Spend Management world. Still, given the uncertainty of SAP's unfolding product lines in the SRM, sourcing, spend analysis and contract management areas -- all separate solution areas for SAP -- not to mention the management question marks (if anyone knows who is running the overall SAP procurement efforts, please stand up!), I thought at least someone should get to the bottom of what's really going on. And who better to cut through the noise and fog than a blogger, I suppose.

At this point, I'm planning on drilling down on a number of topics at Sapphire. First, like everyone else, I'm extremely curious to get a general SRM overview and direction update including who is actually running the organization these days (the previous SVP, John Zapecki, is now running M&A for North America). As part of this area, I want to learn the latest expectations on SAP SRM 7.0 (for those who did not follow SAP in the procurement space last year, the vendor never went G/A with SRM 6.0). Next I'm looking for an update on SAP's xApp for spend analysis, a product they previewed at Sapphire last year. Surprisingly, SAP took a rather avant-garde UI approach relative to competitors with the product, building a flex-based UI around the application that looks more like a modern web application than what you’d expect from an ERP provider.

One thing SAP has realized in the past couple of years is the importance of surrounding itself with a partner and BPO ecosystem in the procurement world. And to this end, they've formed partnerships with outsourcing providers including Infosys and Hubwoo who provide hosted, SAP SRM solutions to their customers (under a subscription based model). Any sense of direction I can gain in SAP in this regard -- which, for a number of reasons I believe is a potential threat to SAP's license, maintenance and upgrade revenue streams -- will be useful. Next up on my list of items to dig into is any strategies SAP has for increasing usage and penetration in their accounts (as measured by spend under management, % suppliers enabled in existing SRM accounts, etc.) In at least one analyst report last year, SAP and Oracle came in at the bottom of the barrel when it came to these metrics and certainly they must be doing something to insure that customers are using the code their produce. Last on my list of items is a general update on their sourcing product line and what they've done to enhance or build out the product. I know following the SRM 6.0 launch debacle that SAP directed their reps to push sourcing hard in its place. Whether this strategy is working or not will be worth digging into.

These are the items on my list. If I'm missing anything else that Spend Matters readers want to know about, please drop me a line. I'll be at Sapphire in Orlando from Sunday night through Tuesday, then it's off to SIG's event on the West Coast for the rest of the week.

- Jason Busch

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