ORLANDO – SAP has been amping up the volume around its cloud business for a number of years now, but at the company’s Global Partner Summit, held here Monday in advance of this week’s SAPPHIRE Now conference, the company made it clear that it sees public cloud as the way forward, and it wants its partners to buy in too.
“It’s time to move the world to the cloud from an ERP perspective,” Rodolpho Cardenuto, president of global channels and general business for SAP told 1,500-plus partners in attendance.
The bold declaration that public cloud-based ERP is the way forward came from a number of executives and speakers at the conference, and shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given that the German business software giant has “closed the loop” on its ability to deliver its core products via the cloud. Cardenuto was joined onstage by two of the company’s partner-facing cloud executives – Sean Thompson, head of business development and partner ecosystem for SAP’s SME team, representing the longstanding Business ByDesign (BBD) SME-focused lineup, and Melissa Di Donato, chief revenue officer for SAP S/4 HANA Cloud, the newest portion of its lineup, which introduces a cloud-based flavour of its flagship enterprise S/4 ERP package.
Both executives include time on the partner side of the fence before taking up their roles at SAP, and both said the switch to cloud makes it an exciting time to be an SAP partner.
“From Y2K until the recent past, it’s been an on-premise game, but now, cloud is transforming the market, and that market is now on the move,” Thompson said.
But he acknowledged there are challenges, especially for partners used to the big up-front payment of the traditional, monolithic, on-premise SAP deployment. “I was there in your seat when we made a lot of money installing on-prem,” Thompson lamented, but suggested those days are on their decline. However, partners are able to make just as money, or more, if they make a couple of key changes to how they approach ERP opportunities.
First, Thompson said, in the SME space, partners need to “embrace the volume business” and ramp up the number of customers with which they work. And from there, they need to transform their businesses into one more based around building unique intellectual property, allowing partners to “enjoy software economics, and not just installation economics.”
That’s already happening today, Thompson noted, with some 2,000 partner-designed extension to ByDesign running in SAP’s data centres and available on the SAP marketplace.
“We’ve been espousing the importance of development for a long time,” Thompson said. “Now, we can offer not only a robust API, but also a marketplace for partners to start monetizing their creations.”
The high end of enterprise ERP has been slower to move to the cloud than the SME business, but with S/4 HANA in the cloud, Di Donato said the company is making the statement that “ERP in the cloud isn’t coming – it’s here” and that it’s here because the target audience is insisting upon it.
“Customers are demanding it. The largest enterprises are challenging us to be more innovative, to get instant value from their ERP,” Di Donato said.
Because of the scale the company is targeting for the cloud version of S/4, the company needs to change some things about the way it works with partners. Di Donato said the cloud version will be “100 per cent aligned” with partners on every opportunity, and the company will not, at least out of the gate, offer specific industry solutions on top of the S/4 cloud platform. Instead, it will be the domain of partners.
“We don’t have the luxury to do that. We have to go too fast, so we’re going to rely on all of you to do that,” she said.
The company is also not building an internal services business around S/4 on the cloud, with Di Donato saying the company is “100 per cent focused on services with our partners” around the new platform.
As a result, she called upon partners to be more strategic with customers than ever before, and to move their services offerings up the chain to address line of business and C-suite leaders’ requests and demands of their business software environment.
“We’re looking forward to working with all of you and delivering better outcomes to our customers, Di Donato said.