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It has been almost three months since the Rise with SAP introductory event so IgniteSAP is looking this week at how it has been received and what questions are being asked.

Any company introducing a new software product or platform is faced with a series of tasks in order to see that it is taken up by its existing or prospective customers. The fundamental task, preceding that of making a case for the benefits to customers of the new offering, is to explain exactly what that product is. This is particularly important in the current circumstances because at periods of intense change in an industry, each new product can be presenting customers with an entirely new paradigm: reframing the problems which were addressed by previous solutions or targeting an entirely new set of problems.

SAP has created a product which addresses a set of existing problems for their customers through this method of reframing the problems, and consequently presenting a novel way of addressing these in the form of Rise with SAP. This carries with it the burden for SAP of educating their customers in the nature and application of the Rise with SAP platform.

Initially they began the process with an introductory event and subsequently with a drip feed of information through their media and also through diligently responding to questions by their partners and other customers, and user groups.

We will now review some of this material in order to judge the extent to which SAP has been successful in its introduction of Rise with SAP. Although it is too early to give a summary of the uptake of the new product, we can at this stage gauge how it is being received and gaining traction in the wider SAP community. As you consider these questions, we encourage you to formulate your own and attach them to the comments section so that we may contribute to a larger discussion of Rise with SAP.

In our article following the introductory event, which was timed to coincide with SAP’s Q4 2020 financial report and the announcement about the acquisition of Signavio, we covered the presentation in detail but for our purposes here it serves to provide a brief summary of the new product before we discuss its reception. According to SAP CEO Christian Klein, Rise with SAP is a:

“…personal concierge service to the intelligent enterprise. We provide you the basic components of an intelligent enterprise in one bundle that includes three business processes, intelligence capabilities, cloud infrastructure of choice, our business technology platform, free access to the business network, and our market leading ERP solution S/4HANA Cloud, everything complemented with premium services and tools, all without high upfront investment”.

This was followed by his explanation for the creation of Rise with SAP which did much of the work of reframing the problems surrounding digital transformation and cloud service adoption. In essence his speech pointed out that, while it was widely accepted that transformation and cloud adoption were beneficial to companies, feedback to SAP had indicated that the key challenge was the “how”: that the process itself was still intimidating and seen as disruptive. He went on to illustrate that SAP and its partner network now sought to emphasise their collective role as facilitators of this process and so Rise with SAP was born. The rest of this section of the event conveyed more product details.

Elsewhere on their main web page for Rise with SAP they describe it as “business transformation as a service”  (BTaaS), and highlight the modularity of the product and that it consists in fact of a bundle of various SAP products and services: business process intelligence, “preparational, analytical, and enabling tools”, consumption credits for SAP BTP, the SAP Business network starter pack, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

So we can already see that in its modularity and adaptability the Rise with SAP product package is  inevitably difficult to define with a couple of simple phrases and in itself this presents a communication problem for SAP. The usual accompanying product videos go some way toward expanding on the explanation of the product package, but it will take some time yet before the SAP community has a clear and distinct conception of the nature of Rise with SAP despite their communication program because only use by many thousands of users in real-world situations will bring ultimate understanding.

The standard product explanation package has been augmented with other material over the intervening period with other material, such as the article “What is Rise with SAP?”  which appeared on the SAP press blog on March the 17th. This article may be an extension of the pre-planned campaign for customer product education, or may have been written in response to the first feedback which SAP received on the reception of the introductory event which perhaps indicated that there were communications problems around the product package.

This SAP press article ends with a paragraph signposting a variety of other articles written by SAP executives explaining the importance and application of the Rise with SAP package, which is further evidence for the carefully orchestrated product education campaign working behind the scenes at SAP. 

Now we have summarised the means by which SAP has sought to structure their campaign and sought to provide many channels of communication on the subject of Rise with SAP, we can turn to the reaction in the community to this material.

A month after the initial announcement about Rise with SAP (26/02/2021), the UK SAP user group UKISUG held an online event called “Answering your questions about Rise with SAP”. Panelists on this webinar event included SAP employees from the S/4HANA Industry and Customer Advisory Team. Some of the questions submitted in the event gives an idea of the range of issues and queries that these SAP customers wanted clarified. They included:

  • When customers sign up to RISE, is this purely restricted to hyper-scaler? What if a customer wants to remain on-prem for business reasons – [i.e] data residency or compliance?
  • Is there explicit details on SLA and cloud services to expect on this contract?
  • Is it likely customers will see a cost increase for what remains with the cloud vendors as they will not be buying as much?
  • To avail SaaS adv – would existing customers with contracts with hyper-scalers need to re-contract again for the same hyper-scale just to take adv to get SaaS licensing?
  • Have all the partners signed up? Should I expect those specialising at the mid-size market to jump in or will it be the reseller partners like the big boys you mentioned earlier?
  • Some software is based on user, some based on memory and volumetrics – how will this be rationalised to get single price model?
  • Will there still be investment in SAP Solution Manager for Business Process Management / Improvement tools for on-premise customers now that SAP Rise and Business Process Intelligence.
  • There was talk of the business intelligence tools being included but I wanted to understand if there were any technical tools also included in the license fee such as tool to help manage the landscape (LaMa), tools to help with Data refreshes of non-prod systems, tool’s to support EU GDPR compliance, etc?

What other questions occur to you about the product package at this stage? We can see here from this selection that SAP customers who were part of the UKISUG were primarily interested in contracts and pricing, and only the last question here is technical. This may be due to which submitted questions were selected, or may indicate that licensing and contract procedure is an area which has so far not been adequately clarified.

This appears to be a similar concern for the German speaking user group as well. Elsewhere, the DSAG Licenses and Maintenance Director Thomas Henzler said:

On the whole, the RISE With SAP offering is another step in the right direction. Because customers are relying more and more on SAP, there needs to be complete transparency into the offering: from a transparent transition of on-premises licenses to cloud subscriptions, to standardised, transparent, and streamlined cloud agreements without hidden costs, and a potential exit concept from the cloud. For DSAG, this is imperative to ensure the offering works well and is popular…RISE With SAP must not be a one-way street. If it becomes clear during a cloud transformation project that an on-premises product is more suitable in that instance, there should be clarity in advance about what the potential path back looks like.”

Other commentators on the reception of Rise with SAP have pointed out that its appeal is dependent on what type of customer they are. Don Dickinson of Dickson+ Associates (speaking in Techtarget) has said that the attraction of the package to customers will vary according to their size, IT resources and the complexity of the SAP system involved.

“It’s going to get traction first with mid-market and emerging customers, because those size companies probably have a smaller battleship to turn around because their systems aren’t heavily customised. They also probably have a little more desire to have simplified contracts with SAP and simplified approaches to doing things… The real value is that if you’re an emerging or mid-market company, you have a simpler contract and SAP has thrown in more software: the SAP Business Network, SAP Ariba, the Business Technology Platform: all that stuff is in there and its easier to consume.”

Other SAP experts are have said the more consumption-based model of Rise with SAP is getting significant interest. The CEO of ConvergentIS Shaun Syvertsen said: “I’m confident it will help many customers make the move by enabling more of them to take a lower cost and, in many respects, a lower-risk brownfield approach to their migration to S/4HANA while still realising value from new capabilities enabled by the modern platform.”

Don Dickinson also said: “A customer can consume it, predict it and they don’t have to get in the business of managing all these different services. They’ll have a simpler way of managing their providers as it reduces the number of parties and contracts.”

So the reception among some systems integrators appears to be enthusiastic but others are pointing out that while Rise with SAP as a Business Transformation as a Service package is promising more convenience and a “single-handshake” solution, it is still subject to some of the same reservations and inertia among the ultimate end-user: the businesses who need to make the jump to transform their digital processes.

Thomas Rosinski, president and managing director of SNP Americas (part of the German SNP Group) said: Once they’ve made that first decision that they want to go to S/4HANA, it’ll be easier to decide if they want to Rise or not, and we will see people do it. We didn’t do many S/4HANA migrations last year during COVID, but this year we have something like 70 different companies that are considering doing an S/4HANA migration in our pipeline. There’s a lot of opportunity out there.”

Jon Reed of Diginomica has asked Christian Klein directly for his assessment of the reception and reaction to Rise with SAP and here is his response:

“Customer reaction has been very positive. They acknowledge that we are making their journey into the cloud simpler and more prescriptive than ever and provide all of them with a tailored path to get there. Most customers want to move off of their on-premise solutions but are hesitant to do so for various reasons. RISE with SAP offers them everything they need to holistically transform their business for a fast time to value: at their own speed and terms, regardless of their starting point, size, or industry. So interest is quite high…

…The most asked question is about differentiating SAP’s role from that of our partners, both the hyper-scalers and the service partners, and how we can chart their course to the cloud most effectively. For many customers, the fact that we can include hyper-scaler services into the contract is definitely an advantage and another conversation starter.”

So from this short review of the material available so far we can see that although Rise with SAP is off to a slow start, the interest is apparent and as more businesses become aware of the software and service package’s relevance to their own particular niche then this will begin to accelerate.

The main reasons for the slow start can be traced firstly to the inherent problems related to new products, and the fact that in this case the product is made up of several elements and made as a multi-tool for many different scenarios, and as a consequence it is difficult to communicate a clear and distinct idea of what it is. Along with this there is the inertia which affects companies who are in general sure that they need to upgrade their digital processes but uncomfortable about the accompanying uncertainty of moving to the cloud, or S/4HANA. Added to this are particular concerns about the licensing model and pricing which SAP appears to be addressing with increased attention to this in their communications strategy.

While it may take some time for the wider SAP community to understand Rise with SAP and differentiate it from its competitors, the case is being made and there are plenty of advocates outside of SAP themselves, so the enthusiasm is gathering momentum.

Given that SAP is always keen to listen, as a community of SAP users we would do well to contribute to the debate about its development with the ultimate aim of influencing the product or later revisions of the product for the benefit of the end-user. That being the case, and in the light of the queries that have been raised so far in this short review, what are your concerns at this stage? Please leave your responses in the comments section below.