DSAG Annual Congress 2023 Bremen: Christian Klein speaks to the SAP community
SAP CEO Christian Klein said during his DSAG keynote that the ERP group wants to offer its existing customers an open structure despite cloud only. This openness from SAP's point of view is to be achieved through the BTP (Business Technology Platform). Klein promised that with the three hyperscalers, Microsoft, AWS and Google, the BTP will be customized so that hundreds of interfaces for end-to-end processes could be available.
At the DSAG annual congress, one saw numerous references to BTP at the partners' booths. The topic itself seems to have arrived in the community. However, the further development is still completely open: Will BTP with Steampunk become the new service platform for modifications or will an autonomous framework for a future ERP after S/4 Hana emerge here?
Business Technology Platform
As with many other SAP topics, Christian Klein in Bremen failed to offer a precise location definition for BTP, Steampunk, generative AI and Green Leger. The will is there at SAP to enable digital transformation for existing customers. But this seems to require more than good IT products. DSAG CEO Jens Hungershausen reported in his keynote that only about 50 percent of the association's members think they can keep up with digitalization.
Hungershausen did not name the reasons for the pessimistic self-assessment of DSAG members. Perhaps the fact that 41 percent of members are still on an on-prem system must be taken into account. SAP naturally wants to use Rise and Grow to move existing customers to the cloud, preferably to the public cloud, of course. And SAP is applying the thumbscrew, which Hungershausen criticizes and spontaneously received a lot of applause for.
In the future, SAP wants to deliver AI and green ledger innovations only via the public cloud. Christian Klein tried to justify at least the AI part in his DSAG keynote. AI, as we currently know it from ChatGPT, only works with big data. Not incorrectly, Klein therefore argued that generative AI on an on-prem system is unlikely to add value. From a computer scientist's point of view, this argument is definitely correct. Whether this also applies to Green Leger, however, may be doubted.
In his keynote, Christian Klein also addressed the highly modified and partly monolithic systems at SAP's existing customers. Not incorrectly, he called for a development towards an agile and modular ERP system. However, Klein left open whether this system could already be S/4 or the successor to S/4 in the sense of a Composable ERP.
The clash of very different ERP worlds and strategies became very clear in Bremen. Christian Klein wants to push topics such as AI, although a DSAG survey from last year showed that only twelve percent of members consider this topic relevant, as Jens Hungershausen explained in his keynote. However, it is likely that this figure will increase in a new survey based on ChatGPT. Nevertheless, it remained unclear whether AI is a favorite topic of Christian Klein or whether it has real relevance in an ERP architecture. However, both key-note speakers also put their finger in the wound: there are still too many releases and modifications at existing customers. This legacy from the past is a major challenge for SAP as well. Christian Klein reported that SAP has to service 200 ERP versions in 130 countries worldwide. And that costs a lot of budget, Klein said in passing.
In this context, Jens Hungershausen emphasized that there are still many S/4 conversions that are merely a technical release change, while functional enhancements are largely left out. This is also a problem for SAP, because it ultimately means a standstill in the digital transformation. Of course, Jens Hungershausen repeated that existing on-prem customers must also get the full scope of future SAP innovations. He received a lot of applause for this several times. Christian Klein addressed this only indirectly and tried to look ahead. Topics such as SAP licenses and cloud subscriptions were not addressed in either DSAG keynote.