November 1988 certainly seems like another era. The Berlin Wall was still standing, Liverpool were champions of the English football league and Bon Jovi topped the Billboard Hot 100 list (Taylor Swift was still more than a year away from being born, after all). Quite a different time.
It was into that world that the UK and Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) was born. Initially a group of just five SAP end users, thirty years on the organisation boasts more than six thousand members from hundreds of different companies and wields significant input in the global SAP ecosystem. A couple of weeks ago the Basis Technologies team were delighted to join almost six hundred SAP users at UKISUG Connect 2018, the user group’s annual conference in Birmingham, UK.
So what did we learn from this year’s show?
Licensing is still a major concern
It was clear from the show’s keynote presentations that concerns over SAP’s licensing model – and specifically the question of ‘indirect access’ brought to the fore by SAP’s successful 2017 legal case against Diageo – remain ‘front of mind’ for many UKISUG members.
Paul Cooper, UKISUG Chairman, stated that “it wouldn’t be a user group conference without us talking about licensing. [The issue]’s not going away…”. He further emphasised the difficulty caused by this perceived lack of clarity when he stated, “Most of us in this room have been SAP customers for many years and we need to know that we won’t be asked pay more for indirect use cases and implementations that were undertaken in good faith prior to the new model.”
SAP at least recognise the damage that the case has caused – both SAP speakers (board member Adaire Fox-Martin and UKI MD Jen Amail) repeatedly mentioned the importance of trust in the relationship between the company and its customers. Fox-Martin even went so far as to claim that ‘’the fuel that helps us grow and succeed is trust”.
S/4HANA momentum continues to grow
Although Adaire Fox-Martin confirmed that only 2400 organizations worldwide are currently live with S/4HANA, the shift in momentum towards SAP’s new platform was as clear in Birmingham as at other shows we’ve attended around the world this year.
Following the recent SAP TechEd event in Barcelona, where Basis Technologies presented with Procter and Gamble on our support for their multi-year transition to S/4HANA, our team at UKISUG Connect had more conversations than ever about how automation software can help businesses during the move to S/4HANA, and the way it enables them to efficiently implement regular updates once they’re up and running.
Paul Cooper confirmed this heightened focus when he quoted a recent UKISUG survey which found that 78% of members now plan to implement S/4HANA, up from just 34% two years before.
Automation accelerates innovation
A key benefit for our customers when they adopt our DevOps and test platform is the way in which team members gain the time and space to work on things that genuinely add new value, rather than just ‘keeping the lights on’. In essence, automation enables them to deliver innovation faster.
That being the case, it’s gratifying to hear this same sentiment – which we’ve been espousing for a number of years, I might add – echoed in Jens Amail’s keynote speech about the power of technology to raise productivity and deliver greater value from existing resources.
We very much agree, Jens!
Steve Ross, SAP Technical Services Manager at UK retailer Dunelm, further reinforced this point in his presentation entitled ‘How automation is supporting Dunelm’s innovation and growth by delivering SAP projects with speed and safety’. Steve described how change automation has delivered ‘vast improvements’ at Dunelm and enabled the quality of their development to be ‘better than it ever was’.
Here’s to the next thirty years
As a customer-focused company, events like UKISUG Connect are a vital way for the Basis Technologies team to meet with SAP users and discuss in more detail the things that really concern them. The 2018 show was no exception, with more conversations than we’ve ever had before. We’re already looking forward to an even bigger and better UKISUG conference to mark year thirty-one in 2019.
If you don’t want to wait that long to find out more about our DevOps and test automation platform and how it enables on-demand SAP delivery, watch this webinar Innovating at speed in SAP: How DevOps automation is enabling greater business agility.