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DSAG Survey and Annual Congress

Last week the German-speaking SAP user group DSAG held its annual congress and released a DSAG member survey that was conducted in June.

This week IgniteSAP will discuss the responses to that DSAG member survey and summarise some of the key takeaways from the annual congress.

The survey was the result of a collaboration between DSAG, the America SAP user group ASUG and also this time included participants from the Japanese SAP user group JSUG. It asked a series of questions around the themes of digitalisation, transformation and economic disruption.

Keeping Up with Disruption

Of the German, Austrian and Swiss companies responding to the survey, 85 percent said they were currently able to keep up with the pace of change resulting from recent global and macro-economic events.

Of the 434 DSAG respondents 71% replied they “can keep up to a certain extent”, 14% said “easily”, and 15% said “we can’t keep up”.

Obstacles to Progress

Among German speaking participants the reasons some companies gave as to why they were having difficulty keeping up with the pace of change were “the lack of internal skills and staff (63%), the complexity of IT migrations (53%) and cost constraints (42%)”.

Jens Hungerhausen, DSAG’s Chairman pointed out that these obstacles were all to do with people, presumably as opposed to being primarily technological obstacles or financial obstacles.

IT Modernisation

In response to questions about barriers facing IT departments looking to modernise, DSAG members cited a lack of internal skills and staff (63%), the complexity of changes to IT landscapes (53%) and cost pressure (42%).

We assume respondents to these questions were able to select more than one reason: resulting in the percentages adding up to more than 100.

Deployment Models

Members were asked about the relative importance of on-premise and cloud-based SAP and non-SAP software solutions in their IT landscapes. 93% of DSAG participants said on-premise SAP solutions were of medium to high importance. 75% said they ranked equal with other on-premise software solution providers. As to cloud solutions, 42% said SAP was of high or medium importance as opposed to 61% referring to non-SAP cloud solutions.

We can see here that there is still greater importance placed in on-premise as a category. Also we can see that the question (by an SAP user group) was phrased as “SAP vs non-SAP” which is essentially SAP vs all other solutions. This is an important distinction to make when judging the relative importance SAP in either on-premise or the cloud. It shows a strong performance by SAP among its users despite being a smaller percentage because the other number includes all other providers and does not represent a single competitor.

Future Landscapes

Turning to the question of future IT landscapes, 85% of DSAG members responded that SAP on-premise solutions were of high or medium importance, 77% said the same of SAP cloud solutions. Non-SAP cloud solutions were seen as of medium to high importance by 77% as well and Non-SAP on-premise solutions were seen as important by the least number of participants with 67%.

Hybrid for the Mid-Term

Jens Hungerhausen said the survey showed that while on-premise solutions will continued to decline there will still be a role for them, resulting in a hybrid trend which will still require the support of SAP in the future for these types of deployments.

Other key takeaways from the DSAG survey are that IT departments are still lacking the necessary staff and skills for their workload and there is a need, given the variety in deployments to create more flexible, scalable and transparent cloud agreements.

Hungerhausen summarised DSAG’s current view:

“There cannot be a process vacuum between new SAP solutions and hybrid approaches. It’s critical that SAP plays a part in preventing one from forming… In our view, RISE with SAP still has lots of potential. Ultimately, we want SAP to provide better, more effective bespoke support to customers from the very beginning of the complex transformation process. And this also means including partners more effectively and at an earlier stage.”

Speaking at the DSAG congress he pointed out that while standardised processes were “the right way to go” many customers are not ready to leave on-premise systems behind.

“They [SAP] have to invest a little bit more in education, knowledge transfer to the customer so that everybody sees the benefits of going this way.”

This set the tone for the DSAG Annual Congress, but there was also a strong showing from members of SAP’s executive at the conference who were keen to demonstrate they were listening and working closely with DSAG, to address its constructive criticism.

The Annual Congress

The DSAG Annual Congress 2022 was the first live conference since 2019 and attracted about 3,600 participants to Leipzig. The conference was also a celebration of 25 years of DSAG.

The theme this year was “In Search of Progress” and sessions at the congress included members of the board of DSAG and SAP, along with SAP customers who had stories of successful transformations to share.

Working Together

Jens Hungerhausen, Daniela Meisenheimer, Jean-Claude Flury and others from the DSAG board kicked off the keynote sessions with a discussion on how corporations are searching for success amid a changing economic context. They highlighted the need for SAP and its partners, along with user groups and SAP customers to work together to achieve the necessary degree of flexibility, sustainability in transformations to meet the numerous challenges facing digital enterprises.

This session reviewed the history of DSAG and its importance for its members and brought the discussion up to date with a review of the most recent DSAG member survey which we have covered in some detail above. After that it covered the current economic situation facing stakeholders in the SAP ecosystem and emerging themes of importance such as cybersecurity and sustainability.


SAP CEO Christian Klein addressed the congress via video link and was at pains to make clear how valuable SAP found the relationship between DSAG and SAP: how the constructive criticism of SAP by DSAG led to key changes in SAP strategy such as hybrid model support and flexible licensing.

After illustrating some of the large-scale challenges faced equally by all those involved in the world of software solutions for business like the energy crisis, supply chains, and sustainability, he also outlined some of the key themes for SAP and DSAG to consider.

In a brief outline of many topics he referred to the importance of customer relationships and services, ESG, the success of more integrated supply chain networks with initiatives like Catena-X, and the SAP Business Network.

“This Trend is Evolving”

Other sessions included one led by Thomas Saueressig, a member of the Executive Board of SAP responsible for product development, on how the new normal has become crisis management and how technology like SAP’s Business Technology platform can help companies navigate uncertainty.

Addressing the outcomes of DSAG’s survey, Saueressig said:

“… [continuing to support] hybrid landscapes are extremely important for us, but on the other hand we also see that extreme growth in the cloud area and that’s why we naturally have a cloud strategy, and of course we want our functions and innovations that we deliver to be continuously received by the customer… and that is why the cloud is extremely important. …if you look at the trend from the survey over the last few years, this trend is evolving and I think you can already see that in which direction the whole thing is developing.”

Other Sessions

In a session called SAP Signavio: Drivers of Transformation, Dr Gero Decker of SAP Signavio showed how DSAG members could use intelligent analysis of existing business processes to inform a transformation project: accelerating and reducing risk.

Other sessions featured SAP customers going into great detail about the digital transformations of their own companies.

Andreas Beeres, CIO Corporate IT at SCHOTT AG, and Christian Brantl, Head of IT at SCHOTT Pharma talked through the process of implementing S/4HANA as a globally standardised controlling and finance platform at 43 production sites and 26 sales offices in 34 countries.

Andreas Kranabitl, IT Managing Director and Veronika Mayer, Head of Competence & Service Centre led a session with a detailed look at the change management strategy they used in their own greenfield S/4HANA implementation at Spar Austria, a multinational retail group.

Bridging the Gap

Sven Mulder, Managing Director of SAP Germany and SAP customers also provided some real world examples of “result-oriented transformation and optimisation of business-critical processes” in a session called “From Change Strategy to the Concrete Process Model”.

He used the opportunity to highlight the reasons why Rise with SAP is one of the fundamental answers to the compromises required of SAP by its user base as it bridges the gap between standardisation and customisation.

As his session came towards the end of the congress it also served to draw together the key themes of the DSAG conference and in particular the main areas in which DSAG and SAP could work closely over the coming years: namely, striking a balance between support for legacy systems and providing SAP customers with all of the cloud technology required to prepare for the future of business.

The final session of the conference was provided by philosopher Richard David Precht on the future of work in the digital revolution.

The Future of SAP and its User Groups

We can see from the outcomes of the most recent DSAG member survey and from recurring themes at the DSAG Annual Congress 2022 that SAP is subject to a wide variety of pressures within the SAP community but from external macro-economic factors, which affect SAP as much as any other corporation, if not more.

They have shown again that they are listening to user groups and that findings from this continued interaction at the executive level are repeatedly influencing strategy: to the extent that the current drive towards the cloud and feedback from user groups can be said to have resulted in the creation of Rise with SAP and the extreme modularity of the SAP Business Technology Platform.

SAP clearly has to listen to groups like DSAG but equally they must have an eye towards the needs of the future digital enterprise.

DSAG members are themselves aware of the need to move towards a cloud-based software environment but they are facing their own challenges in this respect. There is a skills shortage, which is inherently part of the world of emerging technology as new products require training for both new and existing users. A small team in Germany may come up with a fantastic way to improve the business technology landscape for SAP customers but then the knowledge of the product and how to use and implement it must be disseminated amongst hundreds of thousands who are active in the ecosystem.
The feedback networks which exist between SAP and its user base are part of the solution to this problem, along with educational platforms like the SAP Community but there is also a natural resistance to change which must be overcome.

Several contributors to this years congress referred in passing to Darwin’s work on natural selection. It bears repeating in respect of businesses needing to prepare for the future of commerce and industry.

“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings: namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”

Harsh, but true.

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