Karl Liebstückel, chairperson of the DSAG Board, got straight to the point in his opening address: After July 11, one topic eclipsed all other strategies issues. That was the date on which SAP informed the DSAG Board of its intention to introduce SAP Enterprise Support for all SAP customers as of 2009. Most customers – except major customers with maintenance volumes above €5 million – will face a gradual increase in maintenance fees from 17% today to 22% over a period of four years.
SAP justifies its new support strategy with the increased complexity of modern business environments that makes end-to-end support necessary. Gerd Oswald, SAP Executive Board member for Global Service and Support, and Uwe Hommel, executive vice president, had traveled to Leipzig to help convince the user group members.
They impressed upon the congress that business constantly requires new solutions and that the character of how business is conducted is changing rapidly. “Business networks lead to faster innovation and an increased need for integration,” said Hommel, before explaining that SAP therefore needs to take on greater responsibility and provide more extensive support services to continuously optimize its customers’ IT solutions.
These services include, for example, diagnostics for all software systems deployed by customers and comprehensive life cycle management. SAP Enterprise Support is intended to enable customers to quickly put innovations into practice and reduce the risks and costs associated with IT operations.
The customers and DSAG members countered Hommel’s points, asserting their view that the new support strategy offers no immediate benefit to customers and expressing anger over what they consider an unjustified price increase. Liebstückel and his colleagues on the DSAG Board pledged to continue their efforts to urge SAP to retain SAP Enterprise Support as merely one of several service options and to preserve the current SAP Standard Support.
Neither Oswald nor SAP co-CEO Henning Kagermann, who was present to speak about strategic agility, gave any indication of being open to compromise with their customers in this matter.
Overshadowed by these discussions, the reorganization of DSAG took a back seat. The user group decided to transform its various organizational units into topic-specific departments. The DSAG members also decided against appointing a full-time chairperson to its board.