Pragmatism was the dominant theme of this year’s DSAG Technology Days conference in Mannheim, Germany. The focus was also on sharing knowledge, with experts of the German User Group revealing the trends for 2015.
You had to be quick to get a ticket – for the third time in a row the DSAG (Deutschsprachige SAP-Anwendergruppe, German User Group) Technology Days conference, held on February 24 and 25, 2015, was sold out well in advance.
This year’s conference took a pragmatic look at application development, analytics, SAP HANA, mobile, cloud, and interfaces like SAP Fiori. How relevant are they to users in the real world? How do you implement them? How do they fit together? What best practices are there? DSAG members, SAP partners, and delegates from SAP addressed these questions in break-out sessions and in over one hundred presentations.
DSAG’s technology executive Hans-Achim Quitmann, Group CIO of Carl Zeiss, called for members to get more involved. Doing so paid off, he said, citing a number of examples of DSAG’s influence, such as improvements to the technology components of SAP UX Explorer. The usability of test, training, and validation systems in the cloud had been improved thanks to an initiative started by members. The systems used to be available only within SAP but now customers can request access, which they receive within hours. Another example is SAP Solution Manager, whose maintenance planner helps keep system upgrades on track and projects running smoothly.
Speed versus perfection
Quitmann said that speed, standardization, mobile capabilities, and security were the key factors for digitalization. Speed was what had made the Google Glass prototype a success: The time from idea to creation had been just a few days. Technology components should be standardized to make them easy to maintain, enhance, and upgrade. That would ultimately make everything faster. According to Quitmann: “If companies want to devise new business processes quickly, if they want to adapt quickly, then they have to be prepared to accept an 80% solution.” An 80% solution can often be achieved with 20% of the resources. Covering that final 20% to the perfect solution required 80% of resources.
Double-digit growth in the mobile market shows how important this sector is. In each quarter of 2014, 300 million devices were sold worldwide. That’s why today’s applications have to be mobile, and they have to be platform agnostic. Mobile computing has implications for security. The boundaries between personal and business mobile devices are blurring. Companies are struggling to meet the need for faster business processes. The structures are new and not yet established, leaving companies’ IT vulnerable. No one factor can be considered in isolation. “Trends and technologies are interdependent,” says Quitmann. His advice:
- Don’t spend too much time pursuing perfection
- Work on standardization to remain flexible
- Devise hybrid scenarios because – for a while at least – on-premise and cloud solutions will be deployed in parallel
Business departments have more say
This year’s investment survey, presented by DSAG’s chairperson Marco Lenz, revealed similar trends. The 256 respondents were asked how much their companies were planning to invest, how they would spend that money, and what investments they would make in SAP applications. IT budgets have doubled to 3.5%; SAP budgets have increased 5%. IT budgets have declined slightly overall in Austria, but SAP budgets there increased to 9%. Switzerland was the biggest investor, with budgets of 8% for IT in 2015, with 7.6% just for SAP solutions. IT departments will release a quarter of their budgets to give the business a greater say in purchasing decisions.
One third of the companies surveyed would invest primarily in mobile applications, interface improvements, and analytics. Half of the companies will still be investing in on-premise solutions such as SAP ERP, one fifth was planning cloud and in-memory investments, and one fifth was working on Industry 4.0. “Companies invest according to their needs. That is why they are moving at different speeds,” says Lenck. “Besides consolidation projects, they are also investing in innovative solutions. We need SAP solutions for all of them.”