As many of you know, we have been deploying our new data centre for partners and customers in the European Union in Munich, and I visited two weeks ago to complete the on-site processes.
Of course, it’s a 24-hour trip to Germany from Australia so it made sense to maximise my time, and so I was able to schedule a face-to-face 90-minute one-on-one with Oliver Bahner in Munich, as well as a three-hour session with Jan Ruzarovsky, Peter Dominik, Maciej Fuchs and a number of other folks on the SAP Business One Product team in the SAP Labs office in Bratislava.
Of course, I would like to thank those folks for taking time out from their busy schedules to meet with me and listen and discuss a number of points that I wanted to raise on behalf of our organisation, as well as the customers and partners that I interact with every day.
A lot of the discussion was centred around some concerns that I had with issues and “undocumented features” in SAP Business One, but I also had the chance to listen to the team and Oliver talk in separate meetings about what’s next for SAP Business One both at a product and a strategy level.
Naturally, I’m not going to quote word for word what different people said to me and what some of the key areas that were raised because these meetings often go into confidential areas; however, I wanted to share my takeaways and what I believe is the most likely strategy for SAP Business One going forwards.
First and foremost, as you have probably heard me say many, many times it’s all good news for the 80,000 or so customers and thousands of partners and SAP Business One consultants all around the world.
SAP have re-confirmed their commitment to SAP Business One certainly through to at least 2030 and beyond with Version 10, and they have already announced that Version 11 is currently in planning.
So, any time you hear somebody telling you otherwise, then they are lying, and there’s a good chance that they are trying to sell another ERP product to whoever it is that they are talking to and misrepresenting the facts.
Contentious Statements and Personal Opinions Ahead!!
I believe that it is most likely that SAP will not launch the new product that was mentioned as being contemplated/designed/built in last year’s Summits as being under consideration/development because the identified target market is already well served. Quite frankly, it’s not a market where SAP can be successful, in my opinion, because of the resources required and the complete re-engineering of how SAP sees the small to midsize market and the importance of small businesses to SAP’s overall strategy.
I don’t see that SAP can or should even try to execute on a strategy to bring a new product to market that is pitched against Xero, QuickBooks and the like and more importantly, nor should they because the current B1 product is successfully addressing the market above that where people have outgrown these products and continuing to grow and win new customers.
I expect that SAP will make this clear at the upcoming Partner Summits, but that’s just my opinion, and time will tell if I was right or wrong. What is clear and has already been documented and committed to by SAP is a continued focus on the core SAP Business One product as well as continuing to build and fill out the functional footprint of the Web Client.
Based on my discussions, I believe that SAP is doubling down on its commitment to the core product and making sure that the Web Client is as fully featured as it possibly can be in terms of delivering what is currently available from a functionality perspective in the traditional client.
SAP have also said that they plan to deliver additional to enable the Web Client to be tailored to meet customer requirements in a similar fashion to how the traditional client can be tailored today.
Personally, I don’t see that happening; however, I could well be wrong, and the reason why I don’t see it happening is that web clients of all descriptions are not designed to be built by a vendor and then tailored by the customer or the partner by directly adapting or changing the core screens/forms – what you will in the core client.
Developing in a Web Client World
SAP have talked a lot about clean core, and this strategy is part of that, but it’s also a component of Web Clients – if you are interacting with the Web Client and you want to tailor the end users experience, you must do this by developing your “customisations” in a side-by-side model.
To me, this is the only way that this development should be done, and a number of people I discussed this with have agreed. I believe that partners and customers should let go of the idea that a Web Client can be delivered with the same degree of UI configurability that exists in the current rich client.
To the best of my knowledge, no vendor has delivered this kind of extensibility in the core for very good reasons, and so the idea that somehow there will be a “Boyum Usability Pack” for the Web Client or something similar from SAP needs to be let go of and partners and customers need to realise that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
What I mean by this is that in order to get a full Web Client, we all need to recognise that the way customisation was done before is not the way customisation needs to be done in a new Web Client world.
Attend the SAP Partner Summits to Learn More
Of course, SAP will have more to say on all of these topics at the upcoming Summits (my company SMB Solutions Cloud Services are sponsoring and exhibiting in Phoenix and Madrid), but to me, my takeaway is, and my conclusions are that there will be no new product redesigned from the ground up and hosted by SAP – rather we will continue to see increased investment in the new Web Client that is already 70% feature complete and SAP will continue to focus on delivering a functionally robust and secure solution for small and mid-size enterprises all around the world as they have done successfully since they acquired the original product that became SAP Business One from Top Manage back in 2002.
You may have heard me say in the past that I have invested every cent I have in building our cloud hosting business for customers and partners who want SAP Business One delivered in the cloud, both securely and professionally managed for them.
I am more confident now than ever that I have made the right decision, and I think that as this year progresses and we get to hear from SAP that you will feel the same way.
If you have any comments or questions on this topic of course feel free to respond to this post or reach out to me directly I am happy to have a conversation with anyone on any of these topics.
I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming SAP Summits in Phoenix and Madrid and having the opportunity to talk face-to-face about these topics and more.
Article used with permission from Richard Duffy LinkedIn. Grammatical edits made for readability.