SAP customers 'face IT optimisation challenge'

Tech giant 'must better help users who are struggling to optimise their SAP landscape'

An overwhelming 93 per cent of SAP customers are struggling to optimise their IT landscape, preventing them from upgrading to the tech giant's HANA cloud architecture.

This is according to a survey of 120 SAP users by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, which found 60 per cent blamed a lack of budget, and 53 per cent a lack of time, for failing to optimise their SAP kit.

But respondents also cited a dearth of knowledge and skills as a barrier to optimising, and user group vice chairman Paul Cooper told IT Pro that SAP could do more to help customers understand its products.

"The landscape has got more complex and there's always more SAP can do to support that thirst for knowledge among users," he said. "SAP needs to come back on some issues to re-educate people."

Ten per cent of users said they have already moved to HANA, SAP's in-memory database and cloud platform, 22 per cent claim they're planning to move in the next three years, and 31 per cent plan to move after three years.

Meanwhile, two out of three respondents said they plan to deploy a hybrid infrastructure by 2018.

However, 47 per cent admitted customisations to their existing landscape have slowed their progress in adopting newer SAP technologies. "People have a legacy of customisation from the late 90s and 2000s," Cooper told IT Pro. "It's definitely not a surprise.

"Getting control of where your data's going within your system and how it's secured will give you a much more straightforward [upgrade] project."

While the majority of respondents said they looked to SAP partners to help them optimise, 91 per cent stated SAP could better communicate the services it offers to help them upgrade.

Three-quarters have used SAP Solution Manager in the past three years, but 45 per cent were unaware of the German tech giant's Expert Guided Implementation service. This service offers workshops with SAP service engineers to help people get the most out of Solution Manager, suggesting many currently underuse the tool. 

"Getting more PR out there about these things would help," Cooper said.

S/4HANA

SAP yesterday revealed it's taking a hit on profits to boost its cloud revenues, reporting 129 per cent growth in this division of its business.

But 72 per cent of respondents admitted they didn't know if S/4HANA, SAP's overhaul of Business Suite that runs on HANA cloud, would help them "run simpler".

The product has picked up 370 users since its February launch, but Cooper said: "While this [doubt] is understandable considering it is a recently launched product, it highlights a knowledge gap that will need filling. As SAP's product offerings continue to evolve, users need to understand how they will impact on their business."

He told IT Pro that firms want customer use cases to spell out the benefits others have got from new products before they consider deploying such technology.

Cormac Watters, MD of SAP UK & Ireland, said: "We are working closely with the user group to provide details of the SAP Service and Support portfolio in a way that it is accessible and easy use, and are focused on simplifying our offering to further aid the customer journey."

The user group is running a symposium designed to give customers the chance to hear from SAP experts and customers who are using some of the latest technology.

The event, called Optimising your SAP Landscape, takes place in London on 28 April more details can be found here.

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