Our CEO, Bill McDermott, has thrown down the gauntlet on enterprise complexity so to speak and issued a challenge to every single SAP employee: Make our valuable products and solutions simple to understand, simple to discover, simple to deploy, simple to use and simple to support.
Do that, he promises, and our customers will be successful. There is no more noble pursuit for SAP than that as far as I am concerned!
Why so much focus on simplicity? The answer is that we believe enterprise computing, in a broad sense, has become absurdly complex (both on premise and in the cloud). I should also share that we aren’t blind to that fact that SAP has to lead from the front on simplification. We need to be committed to the mission of simplification for the long term.
Hence, my commentary here related to the pursuit of simplification spans all enterprise software worlds – on premise, the cloud and anything in between. And rather than just tell you what we plan on doing or how we are simplifying, I will provide some concrete examples of what we are delivering today that are down-payments on our promise of simple.
Before we get there, I think it’s worth contemplating our passion at SAP. What we LOVE doing, put simply, is to enable customers to run their businesses, end to end in the simplest and most agile manner possible. To that end, we put the people who use products and solutions from SAP first and will enable them to run their business from their phone, anywhere, anytime through the cloud. Bill articulates this often as “The Cloud Company powered by HANA” …which in itself is a simple but profound statement. How I interpret that as an SAP employee goes something like this: “Hey Steve, you need to make our products easy to use, run and love” and I am up for that call to action!
How will we do that?
That depends on your point of view and what you need from SAP. On the one hand, if a business user just wants something like a simple tool to visualize data and nothing more from SAP, then said individual can go tosaplumira.com, download Lumira for free and have a great experience. Done! And frankly that end user shouldn’t have to talk to anyone at SAP to have that great experience.
On the other hand, a company may want an application like the best HR solution available anywhere in the cloud and nothing more. Likewise, they should be able to go to successfactors.com and sign up right away.
But with all that said, what about companies who want more than a singular and focused product experience?
I believe most enterprise organizations want SAP to deliver a simplified, end-to-end business applications suite that is integrated with their global business network, all powered by our modern platform and easily extended or customized to suit any need. And oh by the way, that experience can be had from SAP entirely in the cloud, on premise or a mixture of the two. And this, my friends, is where SAP will outshine all our rivals. Why? Because I believe there is no other company on the planet equipped to deliver this except SAP.
The reason I make this last point is not because it’s what SAP wants to sell, but again – because I believe it’s what customers WANT. As a case in point, think about what’s happening today in the cloud and how similar it is to the “best of breed” apps developed in the mid 90’s. The scenarios playing out in the cloud aren’t that different actually – a bunch of companies who have a core application (e.g. CRM, HR, etc.) in the cloud, trying to expand beyond their core…then customers end up with integration challenges between those apps or in the current case, clouds. Tough to run a business that way! The point is that our customers typically don’t ask us to think about one thing. They ask us to think about a lot of things, including how a business, big or small, can best operate end to end.
Now equipped with that background, I think we are ready to discuss the roadmap for Simple. I’ve chosen to break this down into three areas:
- Simplifying SAP’s Focus & Portfolio
- Simplifying Enterprise Infrastructure & Applications
- SimplifyingYour Experience & Consumption
Simplifying SAP’s Focus & Portfolio
With thousands of products produced by SAP, it’s challenging to take it all in as well as make sense of what you need and when you need it. To that end, we’ve made the decision to simplify our product roadmap and focus on three key areas – Applications, Network and Platform. It makes sense to do this as our customers have needs that span all of these areas, but most often it’s the consumer of these technologies that is very different. For our business apps and network, generally speaking it’s business users and for platform technologies it’s IT (with admitted exceptions). This thinking tightens our aperture and gives us the ability to focus on what business challenge we are trying to solve, who buys products from SAP and why. Hence, we are on a journey to not only innovate but to simplify our apps, network and platform portfolio.
As a side note, this also enables us to foster conversations between customers with similar interests. Our wish is that the SAP user group communities will embrace this categorization and focus education/enablement/dialog efforts around those areas to better align.
Simplifying Enterprise Infrastructure & Applications
Infrastructure-wise, I know you are all expecting me to use the “SAP HANA Platform” as an example of simplification – and why not? We massively simplified the required enterprise infrastructure necessary to develop or run enterprise business applications on-premise by consolidating database, analytics, application processing, planning, text processing, predictive, and data management all on one platform with one copy of your data. This means you don’t need to buy and integrate all those parts separately. For the record, every SAP application we build already runs or will eventually run on the HANA platform, including our cloud apps like SuccessFactors. (Should any detractor state anything to the contrary, please refer them to this blog or me directly)
On the application side of the business, we are leveraging HANA to expand breadth & capability yet reduce complexity in core applications…and any time you hear SAP refer to “s” innovations – Simple Finance, Simple Logistics, etc., you should assume SAP has taken a business application like Logistics and created compelling new capabilities for that business area on HANA as well as re-written some of the existing code natively on HANA to be more “svelte”. More importantly you should assume that these innovations and simplifications are NOT available on third party database products. Once a CFO spends some quality time understanding Simple Finance from SAP, any question she might have had regarding “why HANA” will quickly disappear.
What’s so great about Simple Finance? With it we will give every company on the planet the ability to know it’s cash balance on hand with precision at any moment vs. just at month or quarter end. This will dramatically impact the market in a profound and positive way. Like I said, CFO’s love Simple Finance from SAP (this is awesome BTW)!
Speaking of CFO’s, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that we offer managed Infrastructure as a Service, known as HANA Enterprise Cloud (commonly known as “HEC”). This is a data enter network we’ve developed in partnership with some pretty brilliant companies like IBM, HP etc., that simplifies your operations by allowing you to move your existing SAP applications investment in it’s entirety to these managed data center(s). I don’t want to get caught up in the exercise of labeling what HEC is, so I will just tell you that it’s cheaper to run SAP on HEC. ASAP. (Maybe I should simplify myself by eliminating some acronyms!)
While those are very compelling examples of simplification, yet another is the recently launched Platform as a Service offering, HANA Cloud Platform from SAP. To be clear, HCP is a cloud based platform for everyone and anyone using any business application from SAP to build and extend their apps…regardless of whether you’ve deployed HANA on premise or not. It exists to simplify the customization of all business applications from SAP, starting with on premise ERP and SuccessFactors in the cloud. It’s free to sign up and try out as well. It’s awesome!
With HCP, all required software to build a solution, including user portal, analytics, data integration, identity, mobile, collaboration, API management, document management, data management and much more are pre-integrated and ready to run in the cloud. (In other words, “no assembly required”… just start making an app!) If you want to see real apps in action, talk to people like @_bgoerke, @prakashdarji and a number of SAP Mentors including@wombling who are doing a great job building apps such as “Enterprise Jungle social graph” using the HCP platform.
As you can see in the graphic, the idea is to make the HANA platform your broad, single product underpinning all business applications SAP delivers, both on premise and in the cloud. This implies our customers will have a more consistent experience as well, so we aren’t pursuing this for the sake of speed or performance alone! Our broad intention with HCP (remember, HCP is Platform as a Service) is similar to HANA, but it will be focused on giving customers one simple way to customize all SAP business applications, whether you use or run HANA on premise or not. (Even if you never plan to use HANA, you can still use HCP!)
This model of simplifying business applications via HANA and labeling them “s” or simple solutions as well as enabling the extension of these SAP applications (or data) via the HANA Cloud Platform is a formula you will see SAP use repeatedly over the next several years.
Simplifying Your Experience & Consumption
Your experience and success with SAP is paramount. We need to build more solutions that you will love to use. It would also be helpful if we made them easier to access and discover. That’s why we created solutions like Fiori and made it free for all existing SAP customers. Fiori literally transforms how people experience SAP. Beautiful, fast and mobile is exactly what you get with Fiori and the experience spans most SAP business applications. If we haven’t “Fiori-ized” an SAP application yet, we will.
Of course the experience you deserve with SAP goes way beyond Fiori. We’re encouraged by your feedback on Fiori (inspired even!) and have looked at how we can extend and expand that everywhere. With SAP Lumira for example, you can google it or visit the website (saplumira.com) and with one click, download an amazing data visualization tool – for free! The product makes even the ugliest of data sources pretty to look at and easy to understand.
On the subject of accessibility, you’ve also told us we need to make it easier to learn more about how to use our portfolio of products, ranging from ERP and HANA to Fiori and Lumira. Consequently, beyond making our tools just flat out easier to use, we’ve made free and low-cost, accessible education a top priority. We live in the age of Khan Academy, Coursera and Udacity – online education, both free and paid options is now the norm. Tools like Academy and SAP Learning Hub, are driving continuous education (remember the cloud world has frequent & rapid releases) whether you are in Silicon Valley, India, China or anywhere around the world.
We’re also making it easier to discover amazing third party apps built on the SAP platform. There are thousands of amazing apps you never even knew existed built on SAP HANA and HANA Cloud Platform just waiting to be discovered, all in the SAP HANA Marketplace. I can’t wait for you to see what we have in store for you at SAPPHIRE NOW 2015 regarding the marketplace and what’s going on with developers building business apps on SAP’s platform all over the world! It’s awesome!
Lastly, we know that your success is a journey and your targets evolve over time. We want to make it easy to understand how to best leverage SAP so we can help you on that journey… so we’ve created journey maps that articulate in 5 simple steps how customers can explore customer success stories, identify use cases, try, deploy with easy cookbooks and experience our products. We’ve begun the journey with dozens of easy to access software evaluation editions via SAP HANA Marketplace, including BW on HANA, ERP on HANA,CRM on HANA, Cloud for Sales, and Customer Engagement Intelligence on HANA.
Wrapping this up…
We know your journey isn’t trivial. We know that no two SAP customers are alike. We know that many of our customers have different starting points like SAP ERP or SuccessFactors or BusinessObjects. We know that heterogeneity is the name of the game in the cloud (as well as on premise) and we have to collaborate with other vendors to make this a reality. This is why we’ve encouraged our customers to get started with HANA ASAP. Moving SAP on premise business applications to HANA puts you that much closer to additional strategic options like moving to the HANA Enterprise Cloud (our aforementioned IaaS) and creating a more seamless flow between other SAP solutions. It also gains you immediate entry to all the simplified apps & solutions SAP began rolling out with Simple Finance and will continue to do with myriad other products in the near future. Your organization needs to be on SAP HANA to capitalize on the influx of simple, lower TCO innovation opportunities coming your way. Once we arrive at our HANA waypoint together, we will be in a position to do amazing things, together.
I view all of this collectively as the pursuit of “The Cloud Company powered by HANA”. I believe Bill McDermott’s proclamation to “Run Simple” is the way forward and we will endeavor to make this roadmap for simple a reality for you, every single day.
This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.