HANA and Watson – the elevator pitch

Last Wednesday analysts, industry experts, influencers, bloggers, mentors and other luminous individuals gathered for a day in Boston to attend the Run Better Tour and an influencer event with SAP board member Vishal Sikka.

I managed to get a few seconds with Vijay Vijayasankar of IBM and asked him for an elevator pitch about his recent thoughts on HANA and Watson opportunities. See the video below. There is also an funny and very insightful video by Dennis Howlett of Vijay and Vishal Sikka talking about the same topic. Vijay is rocking this topic, so watch this space!

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This Week in SAP

Welcome back to a TWIS edition from Boston (hence the picture below). I’m currently here for the combined SAP Run Better Tour and SAP Influencer Event with Vishal Sikka.

Let’s have a look at last weeks news selection.

A chat amongst SAP peers

Back at last year’s TechEd 2010 in Berlin I took part in a rather spontaneous, chilled and enjoyable post-conference wrap-up podcast with Anne Petteroe, Matthias Steiner, Oliver Kohl and Sergio Ferrari.

We all liked it so much that we vowed to make a series of similar podcasts in 2011.

Here is our first issue – we’re keeping it basic and low-key. Just the recording of ca 50 min Skype chat (shownotes are here).
Podcast With No Name 1 – a chat amongst SAP peers

We’re also still looking for a name and decided to let our audience decide – crowdsourcing so to speak. Please contact me or one of the others if you have an inspiration. You can also use the comments on here if you feel the urge.

This Week in SAP

Let me guide you through my personal, careful news assortment from the sunny side of SAP Land (besides, is there any other…?). Short and sharp version this week. Busy days…

Let’s start with this week’s classic Dilbert, which made me chuckle.


Tweeting Me, Tweeting You

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Customisations – an ERP for you and you and you

note: this post was originally published in German on my Blog on Silicon.de

The problem is as old as ERP standard software itself: Customisations. On the one hand customers want their software and processes to be as aligned as possible. On the other hand software vendors such as SAP warn customers who go too far with their mods, as these might threaten future upgrades – could even make them impossible.

“As little as possible – as much as required”

During the late nineties when I started out as SAP Developer I pretty soon learned  the golden rule of customisation “As little as possible – as much as required”. Meanwhile SAP tried to promote topics such as “Best Practices”. And there was a good reason for that: the Walldorf concern has insight into a vast amount of corporate processes and value chains – this knowledge is leveraged in “Best Practices”.

We want to be different, but how?

Halfway through the past decade it seemed as if the protagonists of vanilla SAP ERP system had won the customisation battle. Meanwhile, many customers started comparing a SAP Implementation with pouring concrete of their processes, set in stone forever. While I always thought this view was slightly exaggerated, you can’t help but ask yourself the question where IT-relevant competitive advantage is supposed to come from if more and more companies use the same software and none or very few customisations are allowed.

In a publicised report from February 16th 2011 by Eric Kimberling (Panorama Consulting, Denver, CO) about a survey Panorama conducted amongst 185 customers who have implemented ERP, it appears that customisations are back on the block. While 2009 28.3% of implementations were free of any customisations, 2010 only 15% left their ERP system in its original condition.

I think the following additional findings of the report need to be taken into account here:

  • shorter implementation cycles: if less time is consumed to implement the system, the more can be spent on customisations
  • more implementations with a business case: those customers who do their “homework” are obviously also more clued up when it comes to requirements for their customisations

It also has to be pointed out that for example the tooling used for SAP ERP customisation have become more reliable, more flexible, yet have also become safer and standard conform. However it has to be emphasised that the calibre of consultants performing the customisations is paramount.

A future without customisations?

When looking at the survey results from a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) angle, there is obviously another interesting aspect. Software vendors like SAP emphasise the fact that its Business ByDesign suite is not customisable at the core and thus provides more stability and rapid innovation. It’s important to note that ByDesign is an offering for small and medium sized enterprises. Plus: smaller customisations and add-ons can be developed for ByDesign using a SDK (Software Development Kit), but it still remains to be seen whether that is enough for customers in this category.

Do the survey results show that customers want “their” system again? Don’t IT Departments fetch the development toolkits again in order to give their ERP system an IT-driven competitive advantage? No matter how customisable and flexible ERP systems of the future will be, “As little as possible – as much as required” will remain our motto for longer than some make us believe.

This Week in SAP

Welcome back to yet another weekly summary of all those things that happened “over the SAP hills and far away”.

I’m a Twitter, not a quitter.

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