There’s probably nothing harder for a business to accomplish than these two things: 1) make the complex simple; and 2) change market perceptions. But, at SAP’s recent SAPPHIRE NOW 2014 user event, SAP CEO Bill McDermott and other SAP executives ambitiously outlined SAP’s strategy to accomplish both of these challenging goals simultaneously.
On the first count, SAP outlined how it will make its notoriously complex software easier to use so that customers can reap more value and streamline their own operations. On the second count, SAP is striving to shift the market’s view of SAP from that of a behemoth that is tough to do business with to that of a kinder, gentler SAP that is much easier for customers and partners to work with.
At the event, SAP outlined many of the investments it is making to help it meet these goals, from Fiori, SAP’s new (and now free) roles-based user experience for SAP solutions, to its cloud first, mobile first development mandate. SAP founder Hasso Plattner discussed how SAP must redesign what it does with data, independent of what it has done in past 50 years, and move from delivering monolithic business applications to a "minimalist", modular approach, with HANA as an underlying and unifying platform. Bill McDermott also discussed the steps SAP is taking, and plans to take, to reduce internal complexity and management layers at SAP, and get closer to customers and prospects.
In all, SAP made 70+ announcements at Sapphire to back up its newfound direction for "simple". I’m not going to cover them here, because many of my analyst and press colleagues have already done so in ample detail and with great acumen. However, I will share my suggestions on higher-level approaches SAP needs to incorporate to succeed in its goal of making simple real.
I have no doubt SAP is sincere in its quest to simplify its solutions and become an easier vendor for customers to work with. After all, it must achieve these goals to thrive, because simplicity increasingly beats complexity. However, SAP is only at the starting gate. How well it runs the race depends on how quickly it can move beyond using simple as a marketing slogan to truly instill simple into its solutions and its corporate culture.
Posted: 19th June 2014 | By Brad Windecker :
Great article Laurie. Highly agree with #5 - the opportunity in SMB for SAP is enormous. We win in the marketplace for SMBs because we show how SAP has the brand reputation in large enterprise, but has solutions that are affordable enough for the SMB segment, even startups!
And very much agree that if you want to measure how simple your solution is, you should look to small companies that don't have IT staff, internal training departments or budgets, and can't use systems that are too complicated. SMBs really are the litmus test for simplicity.
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