I am happy to offer some insights on SAP drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic representation of our assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index: Analytics and Business Intelligence 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for analytics and business intelligence. We evaluated SAP and 14 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on analytics and business intelligence.
I recently attended SAP TechEd in Las Vegas to hear the latest from the company regarding its analytics and business intelligence offerings as well as its data management platform. The company used the event to launch SAP Data Hub and made several other data and analytics announcements that I’ll cover below.
There were two noteworthy themes in SAP CEO Bill McDermott’s keynote at this year’s Sapphire conference. One was customer assurance; that is, placing greater emphasis on making the implementation of even complex business software more predictable and less of an effort. This theme reflects the maturing of the enterprise applications business as it transitions from producing highly customized software to providing configurable, off-the-rack purchases. Implementing ERP will never be simple, as I have noted, but as companies increasingly adopt multitenant software as a service (SaaS), vendors will need to make their implementations as repeatable as possible and enable flexible configuration of parameters and processes that substantially reduce the billable hours required to complete a deployment. “Customer assurance” is an important stake in the ground, but it will be an empty concept unless there is complete overhaul of the entire value chain to take it beyond good intentions. Otherwise, customer assurance will be an ongoing rearguard action to overcome technology-driven challenges and disincentives for improvement. Business applications must be re-engineered to facilitate implementation, substantially reduce the likelihood of implementation errors and facilitate subsequent changes to adapt to changing business conditions. Moreover, software vendors’ partners will need to demonstrate that they can reliably cut a substantial number of billable hours per implementation engagement. This will require partners to restructure their business models. Neither of these changes will be easy to accomplish. To its credit SAP has set a course for increasing the simplicity of using its core ERP and financial management software. Getting there soon would greatly enhance its ability to retain if not gain customers in these mature markets.
Workday Financial Management (which belongs in the broader ERP software category) appears to be gaining traction in the market, having matured sufficiently to be attractive to a large audience of buyers. It was built from the ground up as a cloud application. While that gives it the advantage of a fresh approach to structuring its data and process models for the cloud, the product has had to catch up to its rivals in functionality. The company’s ERP offering has matured considerably over the past three years and now is better positioned to grow its installed base. Workday recently added Aon, the insurance and professional services company, to its customer list (becoming its largest customer to date) and reported that its annual contract value (ACV - the annualized aggregate revenue value of all subscription contracts as of the end of a quarter) has doubled since the second quarter of this year, albeit from a low base. This is an important milestone because for years the company’s growth has come from the human capital management (HCM) portion of the business, not financials. Workday has around 160 customers for its financials (more than 90 of which are live) compared to more than 1,000 customers for HCM.
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