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I recently had the opportunity to attend a briefing with 16 bloggers at the SAP Labs in Palo Alto. It was a day and a half of sessions covering Cloud, Mobility and HANA. Stacey Fish was kind enough to set up some 1-1 meetings with the SAP HCM team so I swapped them for the HANA portion which john.appleby3 made sure to let me know was a strategic mistake on my part . The SAP Global communications blogger/influencer program is lead by Mike Prosceno and they do great job of getting some of SAP’s toughest critics as well as key senior level SAP executives together for these briefings. There was quite a bit of information to digest in each session but here are the major things that jumped out at me.

 

 

Cloud – The event started with the cloud team and it appeared their main goal was to explain the longer-term cloud platform strategy as well as provide some information on the various cloud products such as SuccessFactors, B1, ByDesign and the OnDemand. Unfortunately the session got off track from the beginning and although attempts were made to get it back on track the general consensus was the message and overall strategy were very confusing. If SAP can’t clearly explain their cloud strategy in simple terms to people who follow and work in SAP for their living how can they expect customers to understand.  I would have given SAP cloud team the benefit of the doubt but mixed and confusing messaging have been the norm over the past six months starting at Sapphire. I hope this serves as a wake up call and the team is aligned with a clear and consistent message for TechEd and Sapphire Madrid, as with the money SAP has spent on SuccessFactors and Ariba, as well as the competitive landscape, there is not a lot of room for error.  On a side note a group of SAP Mentors attempted to provide some clarity around SAP’s Cloud Strategy prior to this event

 

Mobility - I have been critical of the SAP Mobility strategy in the past but Sanjay Poonen and the mobile team did an excellent job delivering a clear strategy and consistent message. We discussed the overall strategy of Afaria, Sybase, Gateway, Mobile Apps, Licensing and Syclo and some things that jumped out at me were as follows:

 

  • SAP is really listening when it comes to mobile developer access and gateway pricing.
  • SAP has a strong vision and market strategy around mobile device management with Afaria
  • SAP is going to be aggressive around Windows 8 mobile devices with several upcoming announcements planned.
  • The mobile licensing model is not as complex as it has been in the past.
  • SAP plans to consolidate it current multi-platform approach into a unified SAP Mobile Platform.
  • SAP has a run-time mobile license option for customers looking for just a few mobile productivity apps. This will be a good fit for many customers.
  • Richard Padula who is CEO of Syclo did a great job on explaining some industry specific mobile apps they have developed. This appears to be a very smart and strategic acquisition by SAP.
  • There were some neat demos on 3D mobile functionality from their Right Hemisphere acquisition last year.
  • SAP still has challenges explaining why mobile apps such as the ones for HR cost additional for onPremise customers while are included in the subscription model of SuccessFactors and some of their competitors.
  • Sanjay Poonen in one of SAP's best public speakers and did a great job explaining the mobile strategy.
  • I would like the SAP Mobile team to become more creative around including simple apps as Time Sheet, Employee Look Up and Pay Slip (on roadmap) within an existing user license and not charge any extra for it.

 

Overall I was very impressed as I think after what many would consider a rough patch the SAP mobile team definitely seems on the right track. 

 

 

SAP HCM - I had an opportunity to meet with several members of the SAP HCM team to discuss the Shared Service Framework, HR Renewal, Mobile HR Roadmap and longer term strategy. While several portions were under NDA enclosed are some of my thoughts on the meetings:

 

  • You will be hearing a lot more about the Shared Service Framework for HR in the coming year and it is a real untapped market.
  • The HR Renewal, which covers multiple areas, will continue to be one of the key areas of investment for SAP next year.
  • The HR renewal 1.0 (FP1) was released on schedule on Sept 14, 2012.
  • My opinion is the functionality released in the HR Renewal is going be heavily adopted by customers once they get to EHP6.
  • Some portions of HR Renewal are only available for NWBC 4.0 and SAP is targeting having them ready for the portal by the end of year or early Q1.
  • There are some new mobile apps planned for 2013 such as the Time Sheet, Work Center and Pay slip
  • The time to market on the SAP HCM Mobile apps have been very slow and I didn’t get a clear picture SAP has a specific plan to address. I think there could be an opportunity in working with the Syclo team to improve the speed of delivery.
  • SAP has plans to deliver HCM functionality on HANA in 2013/14 in some key and strategic areas.
  • SuccessFactors Jam is going to be incorporated into some of SAP HCM offerings.
  • The SAP/SuccessFactors integration roadmap will not continue past 2013 after SAP has delivered all the core integration.

 

Here are some reports from other bloggers that were at the event:

 

Vijay Vijayasankar wrote that SAP Needs a Better Cloud and Platform Story and a Good Story Teller

Frank Scavo wrote about SAP's Emerging Cloud Platform Strategy

Vijay Vijayasankar, Jon Reed, John Appleby, Harald Reiter and Dennis Howlett got together for this JD-OD video.

 

(Disclosure: SAP paid my travel expenses to attend the influencer event and I even got to see Mark Finnern modeling one of the new SAP Mentor shirts during one of the breaks)

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