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In my coverage of the cloud transformation underway at SAP this week at the annual SAPPHIRE event, we can’t help but wonder how this next in a series of massive technology acquisition plays SAP has made over the past several years will go differently or resemble the “ghost of mergers past.”  SAP customers caught a glimpse earlier in the week when Co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Snabe referred to the purchase of cloud ERP platform SuccessFactors as an “extagration” – versus an integration – effort underway at SAP.

Previous cases, such as the 2007 acquisition of analytics platform BusinessObjects and the 2010 acquisition of Sybase proved that companies can exist within the SAP brand post-merger, continue their roadmap development, and even consolidate and integrate disparate offerings and products that users have been challenged with in the past.

History has also shown that when customer outcry becomes enormous, SAP management will listen. The classic case in point is the much beloved yet hardly innovative BEx Analyzer. BEx Analyzer is an analytical, reporting and design tool embedded in Microsoft Excel.  Queries can be written to and from data sources using OLAP and other functions.  Initially the BEx Analyzer was to be phased out in favor of other emerging BI tools more consistent with the forward roadmap of BusinessObjects.  Somewhere, somehow – before Twitter could enable a large social media response – SAP users cried “foul.” I recall an influence council meeting in Newtown Square (PA) where SAP repeatedly reasured that the trusty and beloved BEx Analyzer would then be supported.  While not a “crown jewel” in the SAP BI offering, SAP customers can still create their BEx queries and continue to be very, very happy.

While BEx is one post-merger roadmap victory for stalward SAP customers, the future of some OnDemand applications – and how those applications tie together with the cloud ERP version known as SAP ByDesign – is still fully to be determined.  With SuccessFactors now fully responsible for the consolidation of the cloud portfolio of products inside SAP, the “extagration” of the two organizations will certainly provide winners and losers with some existing SAP product offerings.  I would encourage SAP customers to speak up – loudly if they must – for any preferences to keep their own personal “BEx” favority product in the cloud family, during this time that SAP wheighs the market potential for each product and what the new cloud portfolio of applications might resemble moving forward.

For more on how SAP positioned the leadership team and messaging of its cloud offering, please visit my Wordpress blog for a link to my recent Tech Target article.  You may also follow me on Twitter (@william_newman) or Google+ (william newman). Thank you for reading!

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