Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


How SAP will approach the cloud

Last June, six months into John Wookey’s tenure as head of SAP’s cloud offerings, I wrote about his view of the world at the time.  It was mostly based on this presentation that Mr. Wookey gave at the SIIA OnDemand Europe Conference.

Last week at the SAP Influencer’s Summit in Boston, while little material evidence of progress towards the execution of his strategy was offered, Mr. Wookey did refine his strategy a bit.  

(As a matter of full disclosure, I didn’t attend the SAP Influencer’s Summit because I was busy attending the “other” event simultaneously held across the Charles River in Boston, Sapience 2009.  However, there was plenty of coverage of the conference, and John’s presentation is posted here.)

Early in this PCWorld interview entitled “SAP Planning to Open Up On-Demand Development Platform”, Mr. Wookey announces that SAP will extend its Frictionless Commerce based development platform to the development world…after SAP launches a few of their own On-Demand applications.

That got my competitive juices flowing right away with thoughts of “here we go again, the 900 pound gorilla is going to lumber its way into the On-Demand world and define the rules in such a way that only the anointed ones can participate”.  So much for fostering innovation in the marketplace.

But then I saw an unfamiliar, kinder, gentler side of the gorilla.  The one that Fay Ray must have seen in King Kong :-)

First of all, Mr. Wookey extends a welcoming hand to the developer community and says,

“…SAP has no desire to force those developers into a proprietary box. Our intent is not to go out and be a tools provider. We want to build good tools to build great applications and we want to open those up to third parties to use.  But we’re not going to actually prescribe that you have to use those tools…”

Whew!  That’s great news for us since we now have over 7 man years invested in our Ruby on Rails application and infrastructure.  Besides, who wants to learn and invest in yet another proprietary set of tools from SAP?  Bravo Mr. Wookey!

Secondly, Mr. Wookey reveals that his primary application focus is on Expense Management and Human Capital Management (HCM).  I’m truly OK with that.  Let SAP focus on building On-Demand applications for a corporation’s employees and maybe even suppliers. We want to focus on what we do best, enable more efficient sell-side B2B interactions between a manufacturer and their customers.  It’s nice to know that we won’t be bumping into Mr. Wookey in that space.

In an ironic twist of fate, SAP building Expense Management and HCM applications is how we originally got into this Internet movie.  Here is a link to a March 2000 article that references the fact that SAP had been using HAHT products (the ancestral roots of b2b2dot0) for their Employee Self Service module since 1996.

As much as things change…they stay the same.

Finally,  Mr. Wookey suggests that developing applications for the SAP install base is “just a launching pad” to “go more aggressively into the open marketplace”.  Perfect.  So where does that leave us?

  1. SAP is 100% supportive of an On-Demand Strategy.  One that leverages the core ERP assets to make businesses more efficient and effective.
  2. SAP believes that it is more important to make On-Demand applications available to the market than it is to mandate the use of a specific development platform or tools.
  3. SAP isn’t interested in our B2B sellside corner of the universe…from an On-Demand perspective.
  4. SAP isn’t really interested in SAP…from an On-Demand perspective :-).

I think that leaves us, our clients and anyone who is thinking of doing business with us in an On-Demand way, in a good place.

Thanks for clearing things up John.


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