SAP users lack clarity on cloud portfolio

The UK and Ireland SAP user group has found a majority of members to be using the supplier’s cloud portfolio, but many are unconvinced by its business value

SAP customers are not clear what lies behind SAP’s cloud strategy, and this is true of the supplier’s Hana Cloud Platform and its cloud company acquisitions of recent years.

A survey of 100 members of the UK and Ireland SAP user group found 58% are planning to use the supplier’s cloud portfolio.

The cloud portfolio includes SuccessFactors for human resources, Ariba for procurement, Fieldglass for contingent workforce management and Concur for expenses. However, only 56% knew why the acquisitions fit into SAP’s overall strategy.

In 2012, a similar survey found only 11% of SAP customers knew what business benefits the SuccessFactors acquisition brought to them. Some 26% said they understood the benefits of Ariba at that time.

The 2016 user group survey found nearly one-third of respondents did not know what HCP – the supplier’s in-memory database platform-as-a-service (PaaS) – is for.

However, 39% of survey respondents are planning to use or are using SAP’s Cloud for Customer, which is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for sales and service functions in companies that run on the Hana Cloud Platform.

Paul Cooper, director and vice-chair of SAP UK and Ireland User Group, said: “For organisations that have heavily invested in on-premise applications in the past, there still needs to be an attractive business case for them to move to the cloud.

“IT budgets always under scrutiny, and it [movement to the cloud] tends to depend on where you are at with your infrastructure.”

When users were asked about the biggest benefits for organisations using SAP’s cloud offerings, the most commonly cited reason was reduced capital expenditure costs (64%), followed by quicker deployment times (46%) and having greater mobile access to information (42%).

The barriers to cloud application adoption were found to be existing investments in on-premise applications (57%), and a lack of clarity surrounding the supplier’s product roadmap (52%).

Some 52% also said the supplier’s latest enterprise resource planning (ERP) core product, S/4 Hana, would make them more likely to consider SAP cloud services in the future.

“With S/4 Hana, there is no full gamut there yet. My sense is members with more complexity will wait,” said Cooper.

“SAP have bought leadership in the [cloud applications] space. But our members need to find out more and explore those practically. We like to see the [supplier’s] roadmap, but the next stage is to hear from other users. From SAP, we’d like to see more early adopters talking publicly.

“Our findings show that SAP needs to do more to educate users regarding the potential benefits of the Hana Cloud Platform compared with other platforms, such as Amazon Web Services.”

SAP cloud symposium

The user group is holding a cloud symposium on 12 May 2016 in London. “This will give users the chance to hear directly from SAP on the latest developments to its cloud portfolio, and from fellow SAP users regarding their own cloud projects,” said Cooper.

For the supplier, Kevin Kimber, head of cloud in the UK and Ireland, said: “We’re encouraged by the results of the survey that show the majority of SAP users are either already using or planning to adopt our cloud offerings.

“SAP provides the most complete end-to-end holistic cloud portfolio. We continue to strive to enhance our offerings through strategic acquisitions and sustained investment with the goal of providing best of breed cloud systems.”