As part of our ongoing “Finance in the Cloud” series, Saugatuck’s Mike West, Bill McNee and Bruce Guptill recently sat around a virtual conference table with Henner Schliebs, head of Finance Audience Marketing for global business management software giant SAP. The session dug into SAP’s drive behind its newest Cloud-based, subscription-only Simple Finance offering, covering SAP’s goals and go-to-market strategy (announced June 3, 2014 @ SAPPHIRE NOW), as well as digging into what SAP sees as key factors moving Finance leaders to consider, and increasingly include, Cloud in core systems of record.
Simple Finance is the first of a wave of planned SAP “simplifications” of traditional ERP / enterprise business management software. At June’s SAPPHIRE NOW event, SAP leaders predicted that the company’s entire Business Suite will be “simplified” by the end of 2015.
SAP’s vision for Finance as an entity, and especially for how Finance will use its software, builds on the goal of positioning the enterprise Finance group and operations as a “competitive weapon.” This requires unifying not only Finance systems, workflows, and data, but all key business management systems, workflows, and data throughout the enterprise, using a core and simplified user interface to enable ease of use and encourage widespread adoption. Continue reading
SAP’s annual SME Summit was held in New York last week, and thanks to streaming live video, a wealth of social media interaction, and some great connections here and there, Saugatuck was able to “attend” vicariously and gather some key insights from the event.
First let’s set the expectations regarding the types of companies involved. SAP uses the term “SME” to mean “smaller and mid-sized enterprises,” with the emphasis clearly on “enterprises.” These are not what most think of as the traditional SMBs. Instead, they’re characterized as having at least 1,000 employees and often greater than $1B in annual revenues, depending on industry.
Their relatively large size (and complexity of business) is why they’re targeted by SAP, who’s selling them Business ByDesign and BusinessOne at a pretty good clip – especially BusinessOneSAP claims 45,000 customers for BusinessOne, with about 900 of them running on top of SAP’s HANA platform. And all new ByD and BusinessOne customers will run on HANA as well, helping to fulfill SAP’s goal of HANA as the platform for all its business management apps.
Speaking of HANA, there was of course quite a bit of discussion regarding SAP’s flagship platform / DB. And almost all of it included the words “will,” “plan to,” or Continue reading
It’s no secret that IBM’s financial performance has disappointed investors and company leadership. We see part, if not much, of the blame being placed on a perception that IBM has been late in, or unable to, transition to being a Cloud-first provider of IT.
A new Strategic Perspective research note for Saugatuck subscription research clients examines this perception through the lens of the recent IBM-SAP HANA deal, providing insight into how both firms have been reinventing and repositioning themselves to be very competitive with Cloud-based business IT offerings. For example: Continue reading
Most people are risk-averse. Growing up, my parents certainly were. And it has long been clear that most large-enterprise CFOs are. So it has not been that surprising that the Office of the CFO has been cautious in adopting Cloud-based solutions, regardless as to whether any of their fears are substantially justified or not.
No doubt, pockets of next-gen solution adoption have been occurring for some time throughout Finance, although mostly around the periphery. Cloud players such as Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics and Tidemark are having strong success in the business planning and budgeting space. Niche players such as Avalara and Kyriba are likewise enjoying strong demand in the Sales / Use Tax and Corporate Treasury segments respectfully. And providers of Cloud-based core Accounting / Financials targeting SMBs and mid-market firms have likewise seen some solid success, including firms such as Intacct, Kenandy, FinancialForce and especially NetSuite – as well as newer next-gen versions from Sage, Epicor and Infor, all of whom have been heavily investing in / reinventing their solution sets.
For the largest of enterprises, though, we still haven’t yet seen the explosive growth in core financials anticipated only a couple of years ago. To some degree we have viewed this as a “chicken or the egg” issue – as until the last year or two, large enterprises lacked robust / fully fleshed out / credible financials / accounting offerings to evaluate and choose from.
However, that has been changing – as four options are now available to serve the unique needs of this high-end market segment. NetSuite has been having some success going upmarket with its two-tier financial consolidation play for a couple of years now. Oracle has come to market with its Fusion Financials Cloud Service, and both Workday (see recent Lens360 blog post) and SAP now have much richer and more powerful solutions that can support the needs of the largest of enterprises.
As part of our focused 2014-2015 research program on Cloud Financials, last Continue reading
SAP has agreed to acquire Cloud-based travel and expense management provider Concur Technologies. When completed, the deal will be the most expensive acquisition ever for SAP, ranking above SAP’s 2010 $7.1 billion acquisition of Sybase Inc. It will also be a Top 10 all-time software or Cloud / SaaS acquisition in terms of total price paid. Concur shareholders will receive $129 per share, a 20 percent premium over Wednesday’s closing price of $107.80. The 21-year-old, Bellevue, WA-based Concur had been known to be shopping for a buyer, with most rumors indicating SAP or Oracle as the most likely acquirers. The publicly-traded firm posted fiscal-year 2013 losses of $24.4 million on revenue of $546 million.
Saugatuck’s first take is that, while buying Concur may not improve bottom-line profits immediately, SAP does get another significant stream of Cloud-driven revenue; Cloud-based providers’ revenues are growing increasingly faster than traditional software providers. SAP also adds more Cloud expertise and presence overall, especially expertise in marketing and supporting Cloud-based financial software. With 23,000 clients and 25 million users through 150 countries, SAP also gains a business transaction network similar to its 2012 acquisition of Ariba. According to SAP CEO Bill McDermott, the addition of Concur would mean Continue reading
This year’s SuccessConnect event in Las Vegas brought the release of Workforce 2020, a summary of two global research studies by Oxford Economics and sponsored by SuccessFactors parent firm SAP. Oxford Economics surveyed more than 5,400 employees and executives, and interviewed 29 executives, in 27 countries, regarding key workplace/workforce management challenges, the factors driving or enabling these, and how all would affect the composition of the typical workforce by 2020.
The Oxford study confirms that the workforce is changing rapidly and dramatically – but not in ways that most have expected. What’s most important, and challenging to managing HR – and HR systems/solutions – is not that there’s a younger workforce with different ideas coming in. In fact, the research indicates that Millennials are very much like the rest of the workforce when it comes to motivation, attitudes, compensation expectations, and more. So much has been written – and believed – about how Millennials are so different from previous generations, that such preconceptions have become a red herring, pulling our attention away from what’s really changing – and what’s really challenging HR and HCM management, solutions, and providers. Continue reading
What is Happening?
At the SuccessConnect event in Las Vegas this week, Saugatuck was able to speak with more than a dozen customer attendees along with key executives from SuccessFactors and SAP, including SFSF co-founder and CTO Aaron Au, Chief Marketing Officer / SAP Cloud and Line of Business Tim Minahan, and Sven Denecken, Global VP Cloud Solutions and Co-Innovation at SAP.
Throughout all of our conversations, three key threads emerged regarding Cloud, HR solutions and strategy, and SAP itself as follows:
- Concerns: We found it fascinating that none of our customer conversations touched on Cloud concerns – including security. No mentions were made about data security and privacy in the Cloud. Instead, discussions tended to focus on the specific, tactical concerns relative to any new software deployments, namely integration, data migration, and time to completion. This is another powerful sign that the “Cloud experiment” truly is over.
- Strategy and Modularity: We found no one with an actual “Cloud strategy” in regards to their Cloud procurement approach. Instead, businesses are building on, enhancing and extending business processes and management with a variety of solutions. In our conversations there was no hint of a broad enterprise movement toward Cloud-based solutions exclusively. Consistent with the broader Cloud HCM segment, many customers are retaining existing systems in certain areas such Learning, Payroll, or Performance Management, while others are using the modularity to extend their on-premises core HR solutions with additional SuccessFactors Modules like Recruiting, Talent Management, and Workforce Analytics. All indications are that current SFSF customers are planning on embracing fully hybrid deployments in their HR systems, and that while complex integrations are far from being a solved problem, SFSF’s implementation partners and 3rd party integration vendors like Dell Boomi, and Informatica are able to make the complexity manageable.
- Maturity: Our conversations with customers here at SuccessConnect, and with enterprise IT and LOB leaders globally, continue to indicate that, while nowhere near its final form and capabilities, Cloud has matured enough that its perceived and real risks are equivalent to those of most other mainstream forms of IT. That means that Cloud can be acquired and managed as would most other forms of Business IT, even as it enables and catalyzes business transformations.
In short, we’re learning to manage Cloud as it should be – a key Business IT component and catalyst. Next, and soon, we must learn to manage business change, as our Business IT continues to transform. Continue reading
What is Happening?
Recent software analyst and IT media reports, including insights from a recent SAP Americas User Group (ASUG) survey, suggest that SAP’s HANA Big Data service / platform is not yet seen by a majority of ASUG members as benefiting their business (relative to the implementation cost of implementing), or driving enough revenue growth for SAP. SAP has, very smartly, issued a careful rebuttal explaining how, where, and why customers see value in HANA – and more importantly, offering to work with any customer to help them understand and realize business benefits from the offering and its associated apps.
We believe that, through at least 2016, this type of approach is the most effective way of getting user enterprises to understand the value of any Big Data analytics capability; i.e., develop company-specific and operationally-specific business cases in order to enable and develop business value. This is because, in most companies, Big Data analytics just can’t be widely used to deliver broad-based business benefits across the full portfolio – because user enterprises have huge challenges finding and managing their own data, let alone analyzing it. Continue reading
I am pleased to announce some of the details surrounding our fourth annual Cloud Business Summit, which will be held November 12, 2014 at The Yale Club in New York City.
Our conference theme this year is “Innovation, Opportunity, Risk and Reward,” with the event focusing on the journey that large enterprise CIOs, CTOs, and senior marketing and finance executives are on as they optimize their Cloud investments, and begin to remake their companies as Digital Businesses. For a short overview of the event, go to: http://cloudbusinesssummit.com/about-the-event.html.
We’ve moved the Summit to a new venue this year. The Yale Club of New York has a spectacular Grand Ballroom that we will be using, along with its elegant Rooftop Dining Room. Both will provide an optimal setting for the peer-level learning and interaction that are hallmarks of our events, fostering an intimate, C-level setting.
Our program / agenda is coming together nicely, with our keynotes and panels offering unique first-person experiences, insights, and best practices Continue reading
What is Happening?
Earlier this week, Saugatuck attended the SAP Sapphire NOW conference in Orlando, Florida. We value coming to the conference each year as it, like several others that we attend, provides great signposts as to the current state of business computing. This year more than 20,000 attended the event live, with thousands more accessing the keynotes remotely. In this Research Alert, we emphasize three key takeaway threads from the event: “Simplicity”, “HANA Front and Center”, and “Ariba: Key to SAP’s Future.”
Why is it Happening?
With many of the key technological foundations having already been laid, SAP is at an important juncture to begin to significantly monetize on the vision it has built over the past few years. We see the company pursuing that in the following ways: Continue reading