This week marked my first SAP User Group Conference, so I had the pleasure of travelling up to Birmingham on Sunday evening to cover the big news coming out of the ICC on Monday and Tuesday.
And big news there was, with the UK and & Ireland UG chairman, Philip Adams, calling on the ERP giant to let customers ‘park’ licenses – temporarily stopping maintenance payments on software if they decide to shelf it during a tough fiscal period, as well as making new products financially appealing to customers.
We also heard Jim Hagemann Snabe talk about SAP’s 2014 plans to move applications to the cloud, on the in-memory Hana platform, and of course life after Snabe, following his departure as co-CEO in May.
But after prepping for the conference and reading up on the tough words the UG had for SAP’s stance on its cloud provision a year ago (the UG successfully persuaded the firm to make it more attractive for existing customers to switch to the cloud this summer), this year’s event appears to have been a little more friendly than the last.
The new chairman, Adams, clearly prides the UG’s independence and has not shrank from criticising the company, but the overall tone is clearly one of building a constructive relationship between the UG and SAP, which hopefully will provide more beneficial for both parties.
The UG wants SAP to better promote its existence to its 9,000 UK&I customers so it can expand its 600-strong membership, and that can only be a good thing for SAP as well.
If the UG can up its numbers, it will have more sway and influence over SAP’s future direction, but equally SAP would benefit from a larger customer base by gaining more representative feedback on its products.
It will be interesting to assess where SAP is at in another year’s time, with its cloud programme really underway and innovations into mobile, big data and social analytics beginning to bear fruit, and it will be even more interesting to see how its customers are reacting to this new direction.