SAP this week announced the availability of RISE with SAP, an offering designed to provide business transformation as-a-service.

“Geopolitical tensions, environmental challenges and the ongoing pandemic are forcing businesses to deal with change faster than ever before,” said Christian Klein, chief executive officer, SAP.

A key challenge for enterprises, he said, is how to affect the transformation. Many companies think it will magically happen with IT in the lead, performing a technical migration to the cloud, buying new technology, and talking about the power of AI.

However, Klein noted that companies won’t be able to adopt new business models, achieve higher process automation, or become more sustainable with what he called a one-dimensional approach.

“Actually, a holistic business transformation starts at the top,” he said. “It’s about changing the culture and mindset of an enterprise. It’s about getting everyone behind this change. It’s about business being willing to redesign business processes end to end and to reduce internal complexity. And it’s about IT serving as an enabler, hand in hand with the business, to adopt with agility, new innovative applications, and very important, the right business platform serving as an integration, extension and semantical data layer for the enterprise.”

RISE with SAP provides a three-pronged approach. Together with its partners, SAP will offer business process redesign, enable the technical migration with its tools and services, and leverage the SAP Business Technology Platform to deliver a single semantic layer across the enterprise, including unified access to SAP’s business networks.

To enhance its business process intelligence capabilities, SAP has agreed to acquire enterprise business process intelligence and management firm Signavio, which will be integrated into SAP’s business process intelligence unit.

“Signavio’s capabilities in making business processes intelligent are highly complementary with our own,” said Rouven Morato, general manager, business process intelligence, for SAP in a statement. “While we are providing insights using our deep understanding of business processes running in our applications and based on that can provide unmatched benchmarking capabilities, Signavio’s approach to transformation is process model-centric. Signavio’s process modelling and management functionalities, and its process governance and collaboration solution, are among the market leaders in the industry and are the missing component for providing our customers an end-to-end process transformation suite.”

Analyst reactions

Anurag Agrawal, founder and chief global analyst, Techaisle thinks that SAP’s approach is a smart one.

“I don’t think the messaging that they have been trying to work on for the last couple of years on intelligent enterprise has gone down extremely well with end customers, because what does intelligent enterprise really mean?” he observed. “Now they have latched on to this business transformation as a service, which is pretty smart, because nobody is doing business transformation as a service.”

SAP has already begun preparing its partners to provide RISE with SAP. Klein said that the company started enabling its ecosystem six months ago, so they already understand how to sell and roll out the product. He pointed out that SAP can’t serve all of its customers on its own, so it relies on partners to deliver the offering.

One such partnership resulted in the recent announcement that Microsoft Teams will be integrated into SAP’s solutions to add a collaboration component (once customers purchase the appropriate Microsoft licenses). Microsoft and SAP are also expanding their strategic partnership to accelerate adoption of SAP S/4HANA on Microsoft Azure.

However, Michael O’Neil, principal analyst, InsightaaS, is dubious about the viability of the model.

“The MSP model, the as-a-service delivery model, is very hyper-efficient, so the margins associated with each client are really good, and it allows for central support of clients everywhere,” he noted. “But it demands that you stick pretty much to a well-defined offering, and that the clients buy that offering, which can be part of digital transformation. But every organization’s digital transformation requirements are going to be a little different. Yes, somebody is going to have to show up, understand what those requirements are, integrate the new stuff with the old stuff, and then integrate all of this stuff with a business processes that are driving the requirement for change. And you just can’t do it as a service. It just doesn’t work that way.”

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