In the new world of digital, will SAP be the zero or the “one”?

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In the new world of digital, will SAP find its story around delivering digital transformation? Read this blog to find out.

Some weeks ago Adi, who helped me with the blog, chanced on this quote by Shakespeare: “Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.” (I confess I have never read anything more challenging than Harry Potter). Having finished a series of meetings with CxOs of several large companies, I chuckled at my own pitch to these customers on how Capgemini with SAP was a true differentiator from the rest. Having been the Head of all Packaged-Based Services in the UK for Capgemini for a better half of this decade, specifically studying the nimbler competitors of SAP, I had some strong insights into customer journeys while playing devil’s advocate.

It’s no secret that many digital transformations delivered are atop an existing SAP platform. It’s also no secret, people do not find SAP sexy enough and fear (along with the likelihood of a slow pace to realization of their needs) the complicated license revenue sheet and dealing with the army of partners and CoE staff that are the guardian of the SAP solution. It’s a clear no-go, in today’s new ways of disruptive business. SAP has to portray itself as a cool disruptive leader in the world it was perhaps competing with or dismissive of some years before.

The culture and mindset of folks at the defter companies nipping at the heels of SAP was that of being engaging, showing a new-found optimism, and evangelical about their products. It almost didn’t seem to matter what you challenged them on – marketing, finance, manufacturing, supply chain, HR … they had something to showcase. Their first priority was figuring out what upset the end users of these customers. It didn’t matter if you were a plant maintenance company sitting in Europe and tracking goods in Australia. All that mattered was knowing how the bill of materials was being affected and why end users were complaining. The drill then, irrespective of the case thrown to them was the same – design thinking sessions, initial wireframes, and subsequent agile development, beautiful simple screens device agnostic giving just the information needed, to stop people from complaining.

Take a good deep look and you’ll realize there are a whole lot of gaps. You build several bespoke tables and applications, reconciliation and capturing of data wasn’t standardized or coherent, yet these were well received and SAP was condoned despite SAP’s ability to probably deliver a fully integrate seamless solution. Why then was SAP not used? In some cases, I found out, SAP wasn’t even considered! Just the thought of the long cycle of requirement gathering, complexity and change management costs, an infinite number of nitty-gritty by SAP consultants, made customers giddy. Clients felt any build and deployment would take a year and a small fortune of money based on past experiences. The business impact was losing customers. No thank you, SAP.

I, however, believed back then, and now even more so, that everything most clients wanted could have been achieved in the timescales they wished for, with a significantly more robust solution. Wether it be on-premises or Cloud-based, any bespoke applications can be developed using the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP). The question comes back to, is it the SAP old-school thought and it’s own ecosystem that is failing? Must we go through in entirety always, the ever so painful process of requirement gathering, key user meeting with governance on SAP CC, multiple discussions with licensing, hosting environments, retro testing, classification of order types, etc.?

SAP and all of us at Capgemini are embracing the newer methodologies and ways of work. At my Capgemini European SAP Center of Excellence, we are focusing on the real crux of the problem, worrying less about integrations at the onset, creating newer platform-based architectures, building on the fly from a minimum viable product that will be used until something new allows us to transform again at low costs and high fidelity. This is helping us win clients in the field. We’ve convinced customers to consider SAP again. We’re playing SAP’s and our own competitors on their own turf but not just on a marketing narrative. We’ve come with an agile yet robust solution that clients are loving! Perceptions and mindsets do change. That is common. Indeed, it is remarkable, Mr. Shakespeare!

To learn more on Capgemini’s unique Digital Core Architecture around SAP S/4HANA and our innovations to simplify your digital transformation journey, please reach out to me directly, or schedule an appointment with me in Orlando from May 7–9 during SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG 2019.

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