SAP BTP as a Cloud Axiom
Malicious tongues claim that SAP CEO Christian Klein has no plan. I believe that he does have a plan, but that it is only marginally coordinated with the DSAG association. In addition, Christian Klein is not a great communicator. His ability to explain, prove, and inspire others is extremely modest. My colleagues have recounted two anecdotes from his DSAG keynote in Bremen this year, which I was not able to attend and with good reason. I was in Austria with my wife and between the summer and fall holidays we went on wonderful, solitary hikes in the Tyrolean mountains.
Meanwhile, in Bremen, Christian Klein explained that SAP's AI initiatives will only exist as a cloud-only offering, which in turn means that SAP's customers will inevitably have to move to the cloud and pay up to 30 percent more in subscription or maintenance fees for sustainable innovation.
SAP's calculations for AI applications takes some getting used to, and it seems to me that the jury is still out. The cloud-only AI statement is another matter entirely. Of course, systems like ChatGPT, machine learning, and other bots need the web as a database. Where else would these stupid machines get their superficial knowledge? AI in ChatGPT's current form is a web-based mass data phenomenon. So far, Christian Klein was right at the DSAG annual conference. But it does not necessarily have to be used in the cloud. An API on an on-premises ERP that uses Web AI services is certainly conceivable.
AI applications are not just an argument for the cloud. Christian Klein uses a rhetorical trick to justify his cloud strategy. Of course, this argument does not work with the experts present in Bremen. Enthusiasm was limited, and the results of a survey conducted beforehand indirectly confirmed that only about a third of the DSAG members trust SAP's strategy.
I was electrified by a completely different topic from Christian Klein's DSAG keynote: SAP's Business Technology Platform will be fully available to hyperscalers in the future. I am still in the process of verifying this revolutionary fact. Unfortunately, I am also finding it increasingly difficult to reach colleagues at SAP headquarters who are willing to provide information and help.
I have often raved about the theoretical potential of BTP in my monthly column: Forget S/4, the next revolutionary ERP is BTP-based. Of course, this is a bold and very futuristic statement, but the platform with the substructure of Hana and a frozen ERP core could become the better S/4: the composable ERP. If this platform were now open and widely available via hyperscalers, it would be a great motivation for existing partners and new start-ups to build their innovations on BTP.
However, SAP still has a lot of work to do before BTP becomes a sustainable reality as a hyperscaler offering. I was on the phone with a friend in the US whose company has been trying to deploy small applications on BTP since last summer. Very painful! There is a lack of APIs and rules on how to access Hana. It looks good, but the SAP Business Technology Platform is still a work in progress.
My colleagues informed me that many SAP partner booths in Bremen presented the abbreviation BTP as a form of name-dropping. The initial offerings ranged from security and authorization management as a BTP application to business functions such as invoice processing. It seems that no SAP partner wants to miss out on this new trend, and perhaps it really is an SAP strategy that customers can follow. A convincing BTP vision from Christian Klein, Jürgen Müller, and Thomas Saueressig would be a ray of hope for the SAP community. In any case, we SAP customers should keep a close eye on the development of BTP.