SAP Influencer Summit, Dispatch 2: First-Day Ramblings

I knew I was in trouble last night when fellow Enterprise Irregular, Dennis Howlett, cornered me in the pub around 10:30 in the evening and I asked if I was sober enough to record a video. The topics he wanted to ask were to focus on my first day impressions of the SAP Influencer Summit -- not to mention what the vibe implied for SAP's overall current direction. Of course I took the bait -- sober or not, who would not want to get tossed some hardball questions from such a salty character as Dennis -- and went in front of the camera. As an aside, the whole experience of frequent video recording, which is becoming more common at events like these (either sanctioned by the sponsoring organization or not), has gotten me to think about the implications of introducing video to Spend Matters next year in various forms. I've not yet pulled the trigger on the concept, but I'm loading the weapon at the moment. We'll see if it ends up being a BB or mortar-size result -- or something in between. But regardless, I'll post a link to my interview with Dennis when available.

I'd say the rest of the day brought with it a clear realization for most attendees that SAP is changing -- and changing as fast as it can given the time it takes to turn the tanker. Over on the Enterprise Irregulars site, Michael Krigsman quotes SAP Executive Board member John Schwarz who noted to the group that "we are not your grandmother's SAP." I got this impression as well, even though I’m surprised at how conservative the customer ramp plans appear to be for certain new cloud products (e.g., Enterprise On-Demand, Business byDesign (a middle-market cloud solution), etc.) relative to how quickly other SaaS providers are going out and trying to win business. Perhaps SAP is just hedging its bets in forward guidance around new customer acquisition, but if their track record is any indication so far, they're certainly taking it slower than some.

Focusing on the Spend Management area for a minute, I'll share a few quick impressions I heard from others attending (including the usual list of analyst suspects). For one, the scuttlebutt among SAP watchers in the procurement area suggests that our favorite German ERP provider is continuing to place significant marketing and product emphasis outside of the core SRM area, perhaps owing to what one person suggested to me off-the-record was has been a "slower than expected SRM 7.0 uptake" so far. E-Sourcing, Supplier Management, Contract Management and Spend Performance Management (i.e., spend analysis) seem to be the major beneficiaries of these new efforts to double-down on product enhancements and marketing outside of the core. All of which begs the question: 2 years from now, will SRM still be central to the majority of what SAP is doing in procurement or will it be but one of many products in a portfolio that encompasses far more than just transactional automation support?

Stay tuned for further dispatches today/tomorrow highlighting what comes out of the SAP E-Sourcing customer discussion and deep dive taking place today. br />
Jason Busch

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