SAP promises innovation for customers in coming years

Co-CEO Jim Snabe outlined a four pronged strategy for the company in his keynote at the Sapphire conference in Madrid, promising dramatic developments in mobile, in-memory and cloud computing alongside a stream of enhancements to SAP’s core ERP platform.

Snabe took head-on some of the criticism about lack of innovation the company has heard in private from its users in recent years, which was publicly acknowledged 18 months ago when it suddenly replaced CEO Leo Apotheker.

Snabe emphasised that the core of SAP’s ERP platform would remain supported until 2020 with innovation being delivered by regular enhancement packs, where customers can chose to turn on additional functionality, rather than “disruptive upgrades”.

The latest enhancement pack included 123 features developed in response to customer consultation, the co-CEO told the audience.

Stability in its core product provided a platform for rapid innovation elsewhere, Snabe said, taking a swipe at rival software houses.

Without mentioning Oracle by name, Snabe declared: “We chose to innovate not consolidate.” He announced a six monthly innovation cycle and said it delivered results, “significantly faster than you can acquire companies.”

He also insisted on SAP’s belief in “openness”, saying that with SAP innovation was occurring within an eco-system, not just from one company.

Snabe highlighted SAP’s cloud credentials, offering both application suites in the cloud and cloud-based departmental solutions to organisations which already have on-premise ERP systems. Despite the positive gloss however, SAP cannot be happy that it still has fewer than 1,000 customers for its ByDesign SME product.

SAP has delivered 30 mobile apps to its customers and Snabe highlighted a further 200 developed by partners, with the promise of more to come.

The company’s in memory computing product, Hana, was at the core of Snabe’s message. He dubbed it “a profound breakthrough” which SAP was now ready to bring to the wider market. Database reports that had taken hours or days to complete with traditional technology, could be run in minutes, said Snabe. He predicted that organisations would, in future, use Hana to run data warehouses.

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