SAP users criticise 'slow' Business ByDesign introduction

SAP users criticise 'slow' Business ByDesign introduction

SAP users have criticised the "slow" introduction of software as a service offerings by the vendor.

Three quarters of those interviewed by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group expressed frustration at how long it took SAP to bring its SaaS suite to market.

Sixteen percent ended up moving to a different software supplier because they could not find an appropriate SAP SaaS system.

SAP originally hoped to have 10,000 customers globally and $1 billion in revenue for the application in 2010. But in 2008, it realised it could not run Business ByDesign at scale in a cost-effective manner and slowed down the product roll out while figuring out a fix. To date, only about 100 early customers around the world are using the application.

Nevertheless, the research found that six in 10 SAP users expected to use the vendor's SaaS systems in the future. Some 100 businesses that use SAP took part in the survey.

"Rightly or wrongly, SAP has been criticised for being slow to bring its SaaS offering to the market, but hopefully the result is a more robust and compelling offering," said Craig Dale, chief executive at the UK & Ireland SAP User Group.

Only 17 percent of businesses currently use SaaS to deliver business-critical applications, but nearly half of businesses expect to use SaaS in the next 12 to 18 months, citing quicker deployment and reduced costs as the main motivation. Most firms said that by using SaaS they could more easily set and meet service level agreements.

SAP is also businesses to use a mix of on-premise and cloud software, recognising that many firms want to keep certain data in-house. A quarter of businesses also warned that they feared losing control, and 20 percent were worried about the lack of opportunity to customise cloud systems.

"Users potentially stand to benefit from SAP's hybrid approach whereby organisations have some processes in the cloud, whilst others are kept within the business," Dale said. "This means that users don't have to put their business-critical processes in the cloud if they feel it is too risky, but can still reap the cost and flexibility benefits for other areas of their business."

SAP said it is "listening closely" to customers, and working with the user groups to make sure its SaaS offerings are right.

Tim Noble, UK and Ireland managing director at SAP, defended the timing of the software release. "We truly believe we came to the marketplace early enough with SAP Business ByDesign. Innovation is more than just having great ideas and developing nice software. Innovation is only innovation when it is also implemented at the customer and being used productively."

SAP had been working with pilot customers until now, he said, "to ensure the solution is robust and ready for volume business".

At this year's UK & Ireland SAP User Conference in Manchester, on 21 to 23 November, there will be a dedicated stream on SaaS where delegates can find out more about SAP's offerings and meet other users.

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