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SAP in Wonderland

Rarely before has the community been so surprised by SAP: the share price is reaching all-time highs, innovation is at rock bottom, and customers are angry and unsettled.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
December 6, 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

There’s good news for all cloud fans. In 2024, the first cloud version of one of the most successful SAP on-prem apps will be available: BRIM, Billing and Revenue Innovation Management. This step is long overdue. SAP boss Christian Klein has been touting “cloud only” for months, but of course cannot keep this promise. The result is an insecure and helpless SAP community.

On a positive note, SAP is taking a prudent and differentiated look at its own cloud-only strategy. An SAP executive told E3 magazine that there are of course also customers who were already at home with the hyperscalers before Christian Klein’s “cloud only” vision with ECC 6.0 or S/4. Of course, these innovators should not be penalized because they do not want to or cannot come to SAP’s cloud—and thus, according to initial statements, would have to forego future SAP innovations in the field of AI, machine learning, or green ledgers.

Uncertainty and outrage arose in the summer of 2023, when Christian Klein spoke in a conference call with financial analysts about the fact that future AI innovations and similar inventions would only be available to RISE with SAP customers. Basically, this meant that if customers did not completely surrender to the ERP world market leader through means of a RISE contract, they would not be able to access a green ledger or any AI programs.

SAP CEO Christian Klein’s cloud-only announcement is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind this is the final vendor lock-in. When Christian Klein talks about cloud only, he of course means RISE with SAP. The core of the RISE program is the complete abandonment of any autonomy: valuable on-prem licenses are converted wholly into cloud subscriptions.

From this moment on, there is no escape. The same SAP executive said that so-called data retention databases are available with SAP partners for a cloud exit, so that cloud data can be stored and saved and, at best, evaluated for official inquiries many years later. Nobody has corroborated this as of yet, however.

Anyone who has the foresight to move their own SAP licenses to the cloud of a hyperscaler has the theoretical opportunity to downsize again. For many months, it was unclear how SAP would deal with these autonomous customers. It is hardly likely that there will be users who moves from a hyperscaler to the SAP cloud using a RISE program. But denying an innovative SAP hyperscaler customer cloud innovations in the future seems politically incorrect, even to SAP itself. Obviously, a hybrid solution has emerged that does not differentiate between the SAP cloud and hyperscalers.

The TechEd in Bangalore, India was like SAP in wonderland. SAP Chief Technology Officer Jürgen Müller presented a co-pilot for Citizen Developer. The tool should make it possible to develop simple SAP applications quickly and independently. Attendants were astonished when Jürgen Müller was forced to admit that SAP’s co-pilot was not proficient in Abap. An SAP co-pilot that doesn’t know the programming language that 80 percent of all SAP programs are written in?

As a computer scientist, it is not difficult for me to answer this paradox: IT tools such as Copilots work in a similar way to ChatGPT. They feed off the internet. There are billions of lines of code from Java and JavaScript, but very little Abap. It is difficult to train an AI with the small amount of Abap learning material available online. When asked, Jürgen Müller was unable or unwilling to say which path SAP will now take in order to be able to present an Abap copilot. It was surprising to see how difficult the global ERP market leader found it to cope with the demand for Abap. At best, you could argue that it’s because they don’t know what they are doing.

This uncertainty from SAP probably arises from loyalty towards customers with Abap modifications versus the public cloud strategy, where modifications are poison. It would almost seem like something out of Alice in Wonderland, but the SAP community is currently experiencing quite a successful Abap renaissance with Steampunk. However, SAP has presented a programming framework without Abap, using instead the much-hated Java. Nobody in the SAP community is tackling Java because that would result in high licensing fees to Oracle. Put more maliciously: the new SAP copilot will increase Oracle sales.

Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.