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SAP faces a major communications battle with its UK users. The issue became apparent from the opening session of the SAP UK and Ireland User group conference in Birmingham today.

SAP faces a major communications battle with its UK users. The issue became apparent from the opening session of the SAP UK and Ireland User group conference in Birmingham today.

Opening the conference, user group chairman Philip Adams welcomed the appointment of SAP UK’s new UK MD Cormac Watters, a former CIO, and praised the fact Watters met with the UK user group leaders on his second day in office.

But both Adams and Watters highlighted the challenge ahead.

Adams praised changes to SAP licensing around personas and its Fiori interface, as a result of pressure from user groups around the world and then shared the results of a survey that revealed real issues around the pace of innovation from SAP and the perceived lack of support and information from the company.

His points were reinforced by the new SAPUK MD, who told conference delegates that on day one in his job he asked what SAP was doing for its existing customers and found he, as a former CIO, had no knowledge of a key part of SAPs strategy - its cloud extension policy.

“I felt naïve, but it was not my fault, it was SAP’s fault,” said Watters.

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He promised to try and drive SAP UK closer to customers and partners and to get account executives to communicate better with customers the rights and offers that exist with the products and support packages they have purchased.

Barrier to innovation

The user group survey highlighted the challenges its members face and which Watters must address. Some 74 percent of SAP users said that the company is bringing innovations to market they would like to adopt much quicker than their organisational ability to do so.

Barriers to adopting innovations from SAP include lack of business case (71 percent), licencing/subscription costs (69 percent), and migration and implementation costs (54 percent) were cited as the biggest obstacles. In addition, four out of 10 respondents noted the need to get more value from their existing SAP investments.

Many of these issues were not unique to SAP – the survey found similar levels of frustration with other enterprise software providers.

But the challenge for SAPUK was highlighted when 51 percent of respondents to the user group survey said that the SAP representatives they currently deal with don’t have sufficient knowledge about their business to help them with adopting innovation.

"We know SAP has these experts in the company," said Adams. "We need to hear them."

The figures from the user group survey contrasted with those presented to the conference from SAP’s own customer satisfaction surveys, with Guy Armstrong, chief operating officer of SAP’s UK and Ireland operation, saying customers noted a 19 percent improvement in the ease of doing business with SAP over the last year.

With SAP urging its installed base to adopt new technologies and move onto the Hana platform, the user group survey also revealed that a significant number of users were unaware of the pre-requisites (for example, the version of SAP they need to be on) required for them to adopt and get full value from SAP’s products; 46 percent were unaware of the pre-requisites for SAP Screen Personas, 44 percent for SAP HANA and 41 percent for SAP Fiori.