“Imagine a financial system that is fun to use”: SAP’s Co-CEO Jim Hageman Snabe finalized his keynote today at SAPPHIRE NOW with not only a daring brain teaser for the audience, but just as much for his own organization as well.
Let’s be completely honest here, ‘fun’ is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the big, monolithic ERP systems that we have reluctantly learned to live with it over the course of literally decades. Unless you are a daily power user of such as system and can’t imagine living without it anymore – in essence suffering from the ERP Stockholm syndrome – you typically just try to cope with its complexity and hardly satisfying user experience.
Not exactly your consumerization revolution so far, but change is on its way. It becomes very apparent from the SAPPHIRE NOW and SAP TechEd conferences that are being held simultaneously over here in Madrid: all announced innovations are targeting the edge of the SAP universe, rather than its core.
Yes, it’s still ERP. Sort of. But the cloud, mobility, Big Data and social extensions are creating layers around it that not only make it much more fun to use – a huge bonus on its own – but also create new value that the business once more can relate to.
Much of it resolves around agility. Take mobility: the enterprise app store quickly will become the new corporate playground for finding solutions that speed up doing business. Mobile applications on top of SAP will be a lot more than trimmed-down versions of ERP screens: they will be simple, attractive and focused apps that support you in carrying out very specific tasks while you are on the go. It carries the potential of truly transforming processes, with the limitations of having to be at the same place and at the same time disappearing.
Sooner or later, to most of us, these apps become the main representation of the SAP system. And over the course of time, it will change the way we think about ERP.
Combine it with other ways of wrapping SAP functionality in applications and platforms that provide more agility (take a look at what can be achieved with Duet Enterprise from Sharepoint), and you start to see that ERP indeed can be more fun to use.
With that, the future of SAP lies in its edge, not in its core. The day we realize that ERP as we used to know it has become invisible – is No ERP – we have come much closer to Jim’s seemingly improbable dream.