Ray Wang made a terrific post based on SAP’s annual influencer love-in, an event which I no longer attend. Ray believes SAP has been in a “crisis”, and sums up his views as
The Bottom Line – SAP’s Turning The Corner
Credit must be given to SAP for charting a new course. A shift in the management philosophy and product direction will take years to realize, however, its not too late for change. SAP must remember its roots and become more German and less American. The renewed focus must put customer requests and priorities ahead of SAP’s bureaucracy. The emphasis must focus on the relationship. When that reemerges in how SAP works with customers, partners, influencers, and its own employees, SAP will be back in good graces. In the meantime, its time to get to work and deliver. Oracle’s Fusions Apps are coming soon and competitors such as IBM, Microsoft, Epicor, IFS, and SalesForce.com will not relent.
I recall the 1980s, when SAP’s main differentiator, at least in the English-speaking US, was a total commitment to customer success, and when it could be taken for granted that SAP would do business ethically. Things change, and not always for the better.
Anyhow, the reason I’m highlighting Ray’s post is that he makes reference to a number of interesting SAP-cetric technology trends or initiatives. In no particular order, Ray suggests:
- SAP’s and Oracle’s (Fusion) efforts to meld memory-centric analytics with operational apps will be crucial for large enterprises — but perhaps only around the middle of the next decade. (I basically agree, although I’d note that:
- Wisely, Ray suggested a very long time frame.
- BI/operational app integration has been, on the whole, glacial.
- The idea that you have to put pre-built aggregates into RAM to get performance is an indictment of market-leading RDBMS — but it’s a fair indictment.
- I’m not sure whether memory-centric OLAP will wind up in RAM or Flash. If the data stores are updated at near-transactional speeds, RAM may make more sense. Otherwise, Flash should have major advantages.)
- SAP’s long-standing attempts to support third-party development of SAP add-ons are a technological mess, in line with my fears of a couple of years ago. However, the business-relationship part of the effort is vastly stronger.
- As SAP focused more on the mid-market, it is partnering closely with Microsoft. (If you think about it, that makes all kinds of sense.)
- Energy/environmental/safety tracking — i.e., sustainability — tools are a big deal. (See also The Economist on that point.)