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Simple Ways to Get Started on Your SAP S/4HANA Journey

SAP SE’s Sven Denecken Offers Advice for a Successful SAP S/4HANA Transition

Moving to SAP S/4HANA is the No. 1 project on the minds of SAP customers. As the 2025 deadline approaches, organizations find themselves at least in the evaluation and fact-finding stage of the project. SAPinsider had the opportunity to sit down with Sven Denecken, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Co-Innovation SAP S/4HANA at SAP SE, to discuss the latest trends in SAP S/4HANA adoption, the most recent Microsoft partnership announcement, and next steps companies can take to accelerate their journeys.

Following are some key SAP S/4HANA transition takeaways from our conversation with Denecken.


What’s driving customer adoption?


The transition to SAP S/4HANA is not a typical upgrade project. SAPinsider research shows that those companies that are successful at building the business case are bringing together both IT and the business side to learn about, understand, and consider the potential impact of SAP S/4HANA. Our early research also showed that early adopters of SAP S/4HANA are being driven by pressure for digital transformation more than any other factor (see chart below). 

Riz ERP drivers

Top Drivers of Enterprise Cloud Migration: Modernizing or digitizing infrastructure is driving respondents to cloud migration, according to July 2019 SAPinsider Benchmark Report, “Enterprise Cloud Migration: State of the Market.”

Denecken confirmed that SAP is seeing similar trends. He also highlighted the pressure to transform business models to meet changing customer demand as a factor that’s at the center of many companies’ business cases for SAP S/4HANA.

“On the business strategy side, new business models must evolve that cater to the customer segment of one and the lot size of one,” Denecken said. “On the operating side of the business, there’s growing complexity of business processes when customers want simplicity. This is the type of industry disruption and expectation that companies now have in front of them. These are some of the trends we’re seeing that are causing customers to evaluate and adopt SAP S/4HANA.”  

Denecken confirmed that the number of licenses for SAP S/4HANA has now risen above 12,000 worldwide, and customer interest in SAP S/4HANA is buoyed by growing requirements for an ERP platform that is flexible, responsive, and modern.


Easy Ways to Get Started Today


One of the most difficult things for early-stage customers to understand is what the potential impact is on the technical, business, and strategic layers of their organization. To that end, Denecken discussed an array of information tools and services that SAP has developed to help companies comprehend these impact zones and prepare for their project:

  1. Discover the impact on innovation and business processes: SAP documented case studies and benchmarks that can help you explore SAP S/4HANA enhancements by line of business and industry use cases highlighting where innovation can impact specific processes or strategic initiatives. To get very specific to your existing implementation, SAP offers the Business Scenario Recommendation Tool. You can use this tool to identify specific business processes that you are running that can be potentially transformed by SAP S/4HANA.
  2. Build your business case:  SAP’s business case value advisor provides a universe of value drivers that can help make your case for the move to SAP S/4HANA. It helps narrow down these drivers based on your unique implementation and strategy.
  3. Plan and execute your project: SAP has a host of tools that can help you analyze the specific impacts on custom code and technical infrastructure. The SAP readiness check performs a functional assessment of your simplification items and recommends SAP Fiori apps that would be beneficial to your project. It also provides an assessment of technical infrastructure along with system sizing guidelines. The ABAP Test Cockpit examines custom code and provides ideas for efficiency and elimination of outdated or seldom-used programs that can be potentially sunset. The SAP S/4HANA Migration cockpit can help streamline the migration of data and custom objects to the new system.

“We are constantly developing tools and content that is the juice that’s inside these resources,” Denecken said  “But also important is the fact that, with every project, we’re constantly putting new information and feedback in there. We want to make these resources and information actionable.”   

More information on these offerings can be found here.


Tackling Key SAP S/4HANA Deployment Decisions


Denecken touched on the critical deployment decisions that go hand-in-hand with any SAP S/4HANA project. One of the most critical questions is whether you should run SAP S/4HANA in the cloud or on premise. SAPinsider is seeing close to 70% adoption of cloud deployment in early adopters with cloud serving as a broad category that includes managed services as well as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and Platform-as-a-Service deployments.

Denecken maintains that cloud will continue to be a strong option in future decisions related to SAP S/4HANA for both existing and new customers. “We’re seeing growth on both SaaS as well as deployment of SAP S/4HANA in hyperscalers,” Denecken says. “Cloud is growing significantly among our net-new customers where more than 50% of that group went with cloud deployment. We also are seeing huge differences in cloud adoption between regions. Some of our fastest cloud growth is coming from China.”

Related: SAPinsider’s Take on the New SAP-Microsoft Azure Partnership

The recent deal SAP struck with Microsoft will only help accelerate and simplify existing customers’ path to the cloud, according to Denecken. “Infrastructure-as-a-Service needs to be commoditized as part of every ERP project,” he says.  “While we work with all major hyperscalers, Microsoft is one of the most prominent with significant global reach. That’s why we said this is where we’re going to start.”

Microsoft and SAP will jointly release content, tools, and services that will help companies accelerate their move to SAP S/4HANA on Microsoft Azure. Many of these offerings will incorporate industry-specific content and knowledge that will enable a more tailored approach to their projects. 

The other foundational decision for SAP S/4HANA projects revolves around the system migration approach that most traditional upgrade or migration projects have utilized vs. a new implementation approach that brings companies back to the starting gate. SAPinsider is seeing much more interest in re-implementations as companies seek to reduce their technical debt and embrace more industry-standard processes in key areas. Close to 40% of early adopters in the SAPinsider study chose re-implementation vs. system conversion.

SAP is seeing a similar balance in approaches. “Currently we’re seeing a 50/50 split between new implementations and system conversions. Our larger and more entrenched installed base tends to favor the system conversion process,” says Denecken. To help speed some of the commoditized tasks and processes associated with system conversion, SAP together with a group of select partners have created “conversion factories” throughout the world. For a fixed price and a single service-level agreement, customers can leverage these factories to speed the execution of various parts of their code and data migration activities.

What This Means for SAPinsiders

Based on the insights from Denecken and the SAPinsider research, below is some valuable advice for SAPinsiders:

  • Start using the resources and tools that are available to you: One great place to go is www.sap.com/jointhemovement where you can access  presentations, content, and other tools  mentioned in this article for free. Also check out www.sapinsideronline.com to get the latest research and news from SAPinsider on the SAP S/4HANA journey. For those of you in Europe, check out our upcoming event in Barcelona, where Sven Denecken will be delivering the keynote address and you can access more experts and presentations that delve deeply into the important aspects of your SAP S/4HANA journey.
  • Make your early education journey a joint effort: One of the most critical success factors to building a successful case and project for SAP S/4HANA is ensuring that it represents the joint perspective between the business and IT. By starting your educational and analytical journey together, you can make sure both perspectives are appropriately reflected throughout the process.
  • Get your partner involved sooner rather than later: There’s a significant amount of data and content to wade through as you start to analyze impacts on business strategy, processes, and technical infrastructure. Having a trusted advisor to help you leverage the tools and analyze the results can provide important guidance throughout early decisions and obstacles you may face.

Contact Rizal Ahmed at rizal.ahmed@wispubs.com.

Or follow him at @rizalahmed




What’s Your X-Data Strategy?

Ready or Not — the Employee Experience Management Revolution Has Begun

For many years, human resources (HR) applications have been largely focused on capturing transactional data across an employment life cycle. This data — often referred to as operational data, or O-data — is used to measure the effectiveness of HR business processes, track compliance, and demonstrate HR’s value to the organization.

As valuable as O-data is, it typically does not capture the sentiment information that is needed to accurately measure, act on, and improve the employee experience. This data is called experience data, or X-data, and is often captured in surveys that record how employees feel about their jobs, the company, and the career opportunities they are offered. More importantly, X-data can be used by HR organizations to better engage employees to increase satisfaction, improve retention rates, and reduce costly turnover.

How important is employee experience to HR organizations? In a recent SAPinsider survey of 278 individuals across 129 SAP customers, 43% of respondents said that their HR strategies are driven most by higher expectations for improved employee experience. This trend has not gone unnoticed by SAP. Since announcing its acquisition of Qualtrics for $8 billion in late 2018, SAP has been moving rapidly to leverage the SAP Qualtrics Employee Engagement solution to transform employee experience through the measurement and analysis of X-data.

Expert Advice: Start Small

Over the last several months, the blogosphere has been filled with content explaining the SAP Qualtrics Employee Engagement solution and offering tutorials on X-data and O-data. To go beyond product roadmaps and to understand how customers should proceed, SAPinsider interviewed Sven Ringling, Director at Adessa Group and head of the firm’s SAP Qualtrics practice. Ringling ’s first piece of advice for customers looking to enter the world of employee experience management is simple: Start small and expand over time.

For customers to be successful, they need to first develop a roadmap that ties their employee experience management plans with their planned use of the SAP Qualtrics solution. Most importantly, Ringling says, surveys should never be launched without first having a plan for assessing results and taking appropriate action after the survey concludes. The ongoing effectiveness of surveys — and their related results — will quickly diminish if employees feel no action is planned, or eventually taken, from the results.

Focus on Data, Insights, and Analysis

At the conclusion of an SAP Qualtrics implementation, the milestones include a survey go-live when employees can begin completing the survey and a dashboard go-live when survey results are shared with stakeholders, line managers, and possibly the entire workforce. Ringling points out that unlike many traditional SAP SuccessFactors projects where analytics is often at the tail end of the project timeline, SAP Qualtrics projects emphasize analysis during survey design, and this leads to better insights and less rework.

When planning survey activities, customers must consider both survey questions and the additional “enriched” data that will be vital to post-survey analysis and comparisons. For example, if they plan to slice survey data by categories (such as demographic data, job data, or work schedules) to see how a specific group responds to certain questions, they need to ensure they capture the appropriate information to drive a meaningful analysis.

Keep an Eye on Data Security and Privacy

Data security and privacy of the respondents are likely to be concerns for most customers and employees. As Ringling points out, few organizations have the type of open, high-trust culture where employees are willing to answer surveys honestly without guarantees that their feedback — and personally identifiable information — are protected. Strong data security exists within the SAP Qualtrics solution itself, including minimum thresholds for any dashboard or report element that make sure slicing of data doesn’t allow line managers to identify individual responses. However, customers that choose to analyze data outside of SAP Qualtrics in their own analytics tools (including SAP Analytics Cloud) or access data through third-party application programming interfaces (APIs) must take steps to ensure that the same minimum security and privacy thresholds that exist in SAP Qualtrics also exist outside of it.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

SAP has published a very aggressive solution roadmap for its SAP Qualtrics Employee Engagement solution. The changes highlighted in the current roadmap will allow HR organizations to more seamlessly capture the X-data that is critical to the success of employee engagement analysis. As they plan their next steps, customers taking the leap into SAP Qualtrics should:

  • Focus on the insights needed before designing surveys. The purpose of an employee engagement initiative is to identify actions to be taken based on insights gleaned from survey data (X-data and O-data). When designing their surveys, customers should start at the end by identifying which insights they need to be able to commit to actions. This approach will help them determine which data needs to be in their survey.
  • Prioritize anonymity. The easiest way to guarantee anonymity is to send a survey using an anonymous link. While this strategy protects the source of the results, it can also open the door to double submissions and cause customers to lose the connection between X-data and O-data that is needed for analysis. Customers should determine their own risk strategy and identify the best ways to protect employee privacy that will also allow for proper insights and analysis of data, including outsourcing of survey administration to a trusted partner.
  • Avoid survey fatigue. It is easy to become very excited about the SAP Qualtrics solution and the options for insight and analysis it offers and lose sight of the potential impact a large number of surveys can have on the workforce. As Ringling suggests, customers should start slowly. Overuse of surveys will not only lead to excessive data that can’t be properly acted on but it can also create frustration or even distrust in the workforce if employees don’t see results from their input.  

For additional insights on the overall cloud HR adoption trends and developments, download the recent SAPinsider benchmark report “State of the Market: How the Cloud Is Transforming HR”.




Building A Business Case For AR Automation

This whitepaper will explore the historical progressions in technology, and most importantly the emerging technologies that can deliver the most value to small to medium enterprises running SAP ECC, SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA.

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Improved Interoperability Boosts Benefits of SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain Service

Partnership Empowers Joint Customers to Maximize Blockchain Solutions

Over the past couple years, SAP has made significant investments in a technology that many in its ecosystem still do not understand, but some partners have made similar bets. Joint customers of SAP and Microsoft will benefit from increased flexibility to construct and implement blockchain solutions leveraging SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service on Microsoft Azure’s cloud infrastructure and linked with Azure Blockchain Service.

Primer on Blockchain Networks

At its simplest, blockchain provides a distributed ledger system that takes note of who owns what at a given time in a virtually unalterable record across a peer-to-peer network of synchronized computers. That means that multiple businesses, organizations, regulators, or individuals can track transactions such as product shipments, land titles, loans, and logistics manifests in a trustworthy system where they all see the same accurate, up-to-date information at the same time. Having such a trustworthy system empowers stakeholders to distinguish between genuine legitimate assets vs. counterfeits.

Blockchain networks can run in four primary ways: as a consortium, semi-privately, privately, or publicly. SAP and Microsoft prefer consortium networks, which let a pre-selected group of companies read and submit transactions. Consortiums are well suited to support supply chains and B2B networks.

Impact of Partnering Consortiums

Combining Microsoft and SAP’s blockchain consortium solutions empowers customers to form consortiums with companies running either Azure Blockchain Service or the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service. Of course, Microsoft and SAP’s partnership runs much deeper than simply blockchain. Microsoft Azure remains the most popular hyperscale environment in which to run SAP systems.

The two companies also announced an integration between Azure IoT Hub and SAP Leonardo IoT back in February of 2019 at Mobile World Congress. This integration empowered joint customers to essentially merge data lakes of SAP data with those on Microsoft Azure. At this point, joint customers could pull data from their Microsoft Intelligent Edge and Azure IoT Hub and provide business context within SAP Leonardo IoT and deploy SAP S/4HANA and SAP C/4HANA business requests and data governance rules to the edge in Azure IoT Edge.

By combining the blockchain solutions with capabilities in IoT platforms, ERP systems, transportation management systems (TMS), or product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, SAP customers could automate large portions of their operations to improve trust.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

Based on the news from Microsoft and SAP, the following will help SAP customers get more value out of their blockchain solutions:

  • If your organization already participates in a blockchain consortium on either Microsoft Azure or SAP Cloud Platform, investigate newly available partnership opportunities. You might find potential partners that the previous lack of interoperability originally excluded from your consortium.
  • Re-evaluate the business case for blockchain and SAP ERP in the hyperscale environment. As SAP continues to deepen its partnerships with Microsoft and the other hyperscale providers, the benefits of running more systems and solutions in hyperscale environments only rises.
  • Consult with a managed services provider that has experience maintaining SAP solutions in hyperscale environments. In one sense, deploying in the hyperscale environment provides the best of both worlds in fast deployment and retaining a certain level of customization for customers. However, it takes a specific skillset to manage ERP, blockchain, IoT, and other intelligent technologies in the hyperscale environment.
  • Companies that operate supply chains should evaluate and pilot blockchain solutions now. Smart contracts trigger sales orders, payments, or other actions once the blockchain network confirms that conditions have met pre-determined values or ranges. For instance, when GPS data signals that a shipment has entered a specific warehouse, official ownership transfers and funds exchange hands. Or, when inventory drops below a certain level, the network searches for a supplier that can fulfill the predefined agreements and sends a sales order.
  • Insurance industry professionals should consider the opportunity for improving security and automation around claims. The insurance industry has a great opportunity to leverage blockchain technology. Highly sensitive insurance data could benefit from the increased security the blockchain technology affords. Further, it would help reduce fraudulent claims as it can utilize the smart contract feature of blockchain to help validate incoming data from clients.

Following this strategic guidance should help SAP customers get the most out of blockchain services in a way that improves performance and accelerates growth. For additional insights and lessons learned, look for the upcoming SAPinsider benchmark report “Blockchain Applications for the Supply Chain,” coming in January 2020.




What SAP Customers Need to Know for Employee Tax Filing

An Overview for US Companies of the Revised Federal Form W-4

The Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which took effect in January 2018, made significant modifications to both corporate and individual taxes. In September 2018, the IRS announced that it would mandate the use of a revised Form W-4 revisions on January 1, 2020. The 2020 version is expected to fully reflect tax law changes made by the TCJA. To help respond to these changes, SAP customers can integrate their SAP payroll with automated tax assignment and forms solutions to maintain employee tax profiles for federal, state, local, and territory taxes. Read this article to learn more.

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SAP Announces Microsoft Azure as Key Cloud Platform for SAP S/4HANA

How the New Strategic Partnership Between SAP and Microsoft Affects SAPinsiders and Beyond

Today’s SAP Q3 2019 earnings call went way beyond announcing double-digit year over year revenue growth and a 37% boost in cloud revenue, as it also unveiled a new strategic partnership with Microsoft that emphasizes Microsoft Azure as the key cloud platform to support SAP S/4HANA, SAP’s flagship ERP release.

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SAP SuccessFactors Announces Move to a Bi-annual Release Schedule

Here’s Why HR and IT Professionals Prefer Bi-annual vs. Quarterly SAP SuccessFactors Release Schedule

SAP SuccessFactors’ recent announcement of a change in its release schedule from a quarterly to bi-annual cadence reflects both a willingness to listen to customer feedback and a desire to streamline the flow of change that has proven disruptive for some customers.

Until now, SAP SuccessFactors releases have occurred on a quarterly basis, with enhancements scheduled for two quarters and less urgent fixes for the remaining quarters. While that cadence enabled SAP SuccessFactors to meet its published schedule of enhancements, the effort involved in reviewing and testing four releases per year was often viewed as burdensome by customers.

The move to bi-annual releases won’t reduce the speed of innovation in SAP SuccessFactors solutions, according to Andrew Hilton, SAP SuccessFactors Software Release and Project Manager. “Rather, it will provide your company with more time to understand, test, and adopt opt-in features.”

I spoke with Luke Marson, President, Americas at iXerv, about the announced changes and how they may impact customers. “I am delighted that SAP SuccessFactors has made the move from four releases to two per year,” he said. “Four releases per year doesn’t give HR and IT teams much time to review and test each release before the next one comes along.”

Marson added that certified consultants will also be supportive of the change since it will cut the number of delta exams they must take in half each year.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

The targeted release dates for 2020 are May 15 and November 20. While the concept of maintaining the same level of innovation with less disruption should be a win for customers, here are ways that the change in release frequency might impact SAPinsiders:

Be ready for the effort required to review and test two larger releases. Although there will only be two releases per year beginning in 2020, the bi-annual releases are likely to cover the same volume of content that currently is delivered in four releases. The economies of scale of managing two larger releases per year should make it easier to get everything reviewed and tested while providing customers with a bit of a break before the next release process begins.

Fewer releases won’t necessarily mean less innovation. From an innovation perspective, customers shouldn’t expect to see fewer enhancements, but instead may see more complete enhancements. For example, instead of a feature being rolled out over two releases, it may be rolled out in one, making the management of change easier for customers.

Expect the same review and testing processes, but with a different cadence. Larger releases may necessitate changes in the release process. For example, release webinars may be broken into multiple sessions and release documentation could be considerably larger. HR and IT teams should prepare themselves to plan for the additional effort that is going to be needed to review more items and changes at one time.




How Do Operations and IT Approach the Digital Transformation of the Supply Chain Differently?

New SAPinsider research provides insight into the differing perspectives of the business view and IT view of supply chain digital transformation.

SAPinsider recently published a report titled, “Transforming the Intelligent Supply Chain,” which benchmarks the leading SAP customers in supply chain management on their progress in digital transformation in the supply chain.

Digitally transforming the supply chain involves a range of technical and strategic considerations. In this case, digital transformation of the supply chain means multiple departments and functions practicing agile innovation in a flexible manner and at a competitive pace. To gain this ability, organizations need to build on a foundation of cleansed and harmonized data with performance analytics and other analytics tools on a collaboration platform before experimenting with newer technologies such as IoT for real-time drilldowns into issues or AI for predictive analytics. From there, companies can use these technologies to lower logistics costs by catching issues earlier and improving inventory planning.

SAPinsiders not only need to have access to cleansed and harmonized data, but also need the computing power and tools to process and secure that data. When it comes these capabilities, IT and operations have very different perspectives.

Here, we look at how survey respondents have and will approach these considerations, including the top requirements identified for digital transformation of the supply chain, the technologies in which they intend to invest, and how IT and operations view them differently.

Top Requirements for Transforming the Supply Chain

A close look at the data by respondent function revealed a few notable differences between IT professionals and SCM operations managers (see Figure 1). In general, SCM operations managers have a far more optimistic view of their organizations’ current capabilities.

Figure 7: Key capabilities currently used in SCM projects prioritized
by function

Source: SAPinsider, October 2019

A full 64% of operations managers claimed their organizations currently used industry-standard security practices, tools, and policy, while only 25% of their counterparts in IT claimed the same. The SCM operations managers also had a rosier view of the state of their data, with a slight majority of 52% claiming to work with cleansed and harmonized product and customer master data versus only 38% of IT professionals. Clearly the IT groups see much more room for improvement when it comes to security and data management.

Similar gaps appeared in ability to drill-down into issues in real-time and supplier planning and execution collaboration. In these cases, the operations folks likely have a more accurate view of their organizations’ capabilities. In all these cases, IT professionals and SCM operations managers need to communicate and align better on the reality of their situations.


How Do IT and Operations View SCM Technology Investments?

As illustrated in Figure 9, IT and operations professionals do not see eye when it comes to technology investment. They mostly agree on the importance of warehouse management systems and performance analytics, but operations managers see significantly more investment going to advanced demand, supply, and inventory planning and sales & operations planning or integrated business planning (IBP).

Figure 9: Technologies drawing investment by function currently and over the next two years

Source: SAPinsider, October 2019

SAP initially introduced SAP IBP as a new Advanced Planning System (APS) that empowered supply chain planners to better collaborate with finance, marketing, product development, engineering, manufacturing, etc. As SAP executed on the SAP IBP roadmap, it overlapped more with SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization (APO) until SAP IBP essentially replaced SAP APO as its primary APS offering. SAP IBP differs from SAP APO in that users access it via the cloud; it integrates deeper with SAP HANA; it has a web interface; it manipulates data in Microsoft Excel; it provides more advanced analytics, forecasting and simulation, and it has its own demand-driven material resource planning (DDMRP) app.

It seems that operations professionals see the value of SAP IBP and advanced planning capabilities much more clearly than their IT counterparts. Managers from each of these groups should align regularly to ensure IT understands the operational needs and priorities, and operations works within secure and harmonized data management systems that empower the organization to scale technology applications and maximize their value.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

Our findings reveal the following key takeaways when it comes to how to approach a digital transformation of the supply chain:

  • Ensure the right people in the organization have access to large volumes of the appropriate high-quality data in real time. This data empowers the organization to implement the higher-level applications based on the data — respondents chose cleansed and harmonized product and customer master data as the most important requirement for implementation, with 84% saying they either currently use this capability or plan to use it in the next two years.
  • SCM operations managers and IT professionals should align on their organizations’ current capabilities. IT professionals and SCM operations managers need to communicate and align better on the reality of their situations. Operations managers tend to have a more optimistic outlook. While they may have a deeper understanding of the operations capabilities, they likely do not have the strengths they claim in security and harmonized data.
  • IT and operations do not see eye-to-eye on future technology investments. They mostly agree on the importance of warehouse management systems and performance analytics, but operations managers see significantly more investment going to advanced demand, supply, and inventory planning and sales & operations planning or integrated business planning (IBP).
  • Actual supply chain managers expect their companies to implement more advanced supply and operations planning tools. The professionals that manage operations see the value of IBP and advanced planning capabilities much more clearly than their IT counterparts.

Following this strategic guidance should help SAP customers get the most out of operational data in a way that leverages intelligent technologies to improve performance and accelerate growth.

Make sure to download and read the full report, available for free for SAP customers and the general population.

SAPinsider will host its Intelligent Customer-Driven Supply Chain conference in Orlando, Fla., November 6-8, 2019. SAP customers can register for the event here.

Pierce Owen, VP, Research, SAPinsider, can be reached at Pierce.Owen@wispubs.com.




SAP Australia User Group CEO Mark Baker to Step Down

Successor Hasn’t Been Named, Understanding the Departure of SAUG CEO Mark Baker

The SAP Australia User Group (SAUG) announced today that Mark Baker will leave his post as CEO next month, November 22, 2019. Baker’s departure comes on the heels of the announcement that SAP CEO Bill McDermott is stepping down.

SAUG is one of the largest in the Asia-Pacific region, boasting more than 3,500 members from over 400 companies. Baker has led the user group since February 2012. The board of SAUG has not named a successor and is currently conducting a search for Baker’s replacement.

mark baker

Mark Baker, soon-to-be-former CEO of SAP Australia User Group (SAUG)


SAUG’s Statement on Baker’s Departure


Let me first congratulate and thank Mark for everything he’s done in his distinguished SAUG career,” writes Matthew Perry, President of the SAUG Board, in a press release. “He’s been a pleasure to work with, and I wish him all the very best in his future endeavors. We are extremely grateful for the numerous successful initiatives and significant contribution Mark has made to SAUG’s transformation. He has turned the SAUG from a financially struggling organization into one with a very strong balance sheet, despite introducing new initiatives and members services and engaging increased staff numbers to deliver these. The current solid financial base will allow SAUG to continue to introduce new initiatives and services well into the future, delivering greater value to our members.”  


What It Means for SAPinsiders


Locals will feel it more. Those who live in the region and are members of the user group will, of course, be more affected. Don’t expect massive changes to the core services or offerings, but you may see the gradual introduction of new options for membership and education depending on the direction of the new leader. Even during major changes in leadership within the SAP North American User Group, the membership saw little significant change immediately.

Pressures on transformation and innovation will drive more changes within the ecosystem. It feels like this is still only the beginning of changes in strategy, personnel, and leadership. More changes will undoubtedly impact not just SAP but its community of partners, user groups, and solution providers. The undercurrent of technology and business change will only intensify as we progress beyond 2025.

Recent SAPinsider research shows that pressures to transform strategy, processes, and architecture are the most significant catalysts for change within our members’ organizations. In our State of the Market benchmark studies on the Move to SAP S/4HANA and Cloud Migration as well as our most recent report on Building the Business Case, we found that the growing demands to support digital transformation initiatives and to reconstruct technical infrastructure to be modern and flexible are among the top drivers of overall business and IT strategy.

This accelerating pace of change is forcing most organizations to think very differently about how they deploy technology to support the business and will continue to upend traditional approaches, methodologies, and technologies.  

SAPinsiders should remain opportunistic. While change can be scary and overwhelming, it can also create opportunity for those that are part of the organization and ecosystem. Stay close to these changes. Understand what they mean and why they’re happening, so you can anticipate how your role and organization may be affected. Invest in the skillsets that are becoming more important —specifically related to SAP HANA, the cloud, and intelligent technologies — and actively seek to understand the relationship between these technologies and your business strategy.