SAP : SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software which specialises in industry specific Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.
How ERP vendors see the future, not just of technology but of business, should be a top of mind question for all software users (not just current buyers). The future direction of these products and vendors is really telling as to how they see their firms positively impacting your firm. Will they get it? Will they be fast in re-tooling existing product lines or building new product lines? Have they lost their innovation edge and intellectual courage/curiosity?
The ERP market is bifurcating. There will be those vendors that see BIG, BIG, BIG change coming to businesses and are getting their heads around it as these changes will doubtlessly render, over time, most of the ERP solutions on the market obsolete. The vendors that continue with blinders on will perish (or die an even uglier death trying to play catch up). It’s time, folks, to start that dead pool for ERP vendors.
The big changes that businesses are facing are centered around: extraordinarily rapid, curvilinear innovation and changes impacting regulation, competition, finance, etc. The speed of business is not just increasing; it is growing at a skyrocketing pace while the ability of ERP solutions to change is approaching an asymptotic path. The gap between the speed of business and the speed of ERP is expanding not contracting at many firms.
Mobile technologies are becoming the de facto systems entry point for millions of ERP users. Desktops are in decline and more and more workers are bringing their own communication devices to work. The modern worker is mobile, often works from home, may be a contractor (not an employee) and may never have a cubicle with a desktop computer. They don’t want their parent’s work environment or work systems. They work on their terms with their technology. If you’re an ERP vendor and you don’t design first for the portable workforce and the devices they use (e.g., cell phones and tablets) (and subsequently for desktop devices), then you’re behind the curve. More interestingly, ERP vendors are competing with small software companies (think 1-2 people) that are developing apps directly for these cell and tablet users. These developers don’t force their users to purchase a million dollar database and spend millions more with an integrator to connect their apps to an old ERP solution. The big question for ERP firms is “Can you develop mobile apps at the same pace and price points of the people creating apps for iPhones, Androids, etc.?
SAP did a good job today of identifying their trinity. They laid out the change phenomena (via keynotes) and their co-CEOs spoke to how in-core (HANA), mobile and social innovations will be part of their vision for 2015. It’s clear that co-CEO Jim Snabe not only gets the changes impacting businesses, he knows how several of their technologies will address many of these changes.