Just 5% of UK SAP customers have deployed S/4 HANA

SAP building

Nearly two years after its release, just 5% of SAP customers are using S/4 HANA, according to research.

Another 12% have never heard of it, the UK & Ireland SAP User Group's survey of 296 organisations found, something SAP was "a little surprised by".

S/4, which effectively turbocharges a range of SAP business applications with HANA, its in-memory data-processing platform, now has 4,300 users, according to SAP, making it the fastest adopted product in the company's history, beating both R3 and ECC6.

But the UK & Ireland user group's research revealed that some customers don't actually know what it is.

Speaking at Connect 2016 in Birmingham, the group's rebranded annual conference, user group chairman Philip Adams said: "Probably for me what was the most surprising number is the 12% who said they've never heard of it. Now that confused me and I'm sure that's produced a certain amount of headscratching among SAP marketing teams and I'd love to know where those people have been living for the last 12 months."

He said the 5% who are already using it were greenfield sites, or those who have spotted a particular benefit from the tool, such as Hillary's Blinds, which won an SAP UKI Quality Award for Fast Delivery for upgrading 15 years of SAP custom-code development in just six months, in an overhaul of its entire SAP system.

The User Group decided to measure organisations' appetite for S/4 after SAP remedied a license issue the user group raised last year, when it wasn't clear whether customers who had bought Business Suite products would have to pay a brand new license to use S/4, which they saw as an evolution of the former suite of products.

SAP stated that S/4 is a separate product to Business Suite, but eventually confirmed it would only charge a nominal fee that IT Pro understands to be around a few thousand pounds.

Pointing to another 34% who do plan to use S/4 in the next 12 months, Adams said: "Most of us are on that path already, we're thinking about how we can make it work in our organisations."

While 49% of respondents said they have no plans to use S/4, Adams pointed out that many are still running ECC6, or other ERP products that SAP will support until 2025, meaning they are in no rush.

But he added: "We do recognise the fact that migration to the new product isn't necessarily easy. What clearly we do need to understand is how do we get there, what are the steps that we need to make to move from where we are today to the new product. 34% of you have that worked out and that's fantastic, but the vast majority still need help."

Responding to the survey's figures, SAP's UK & Ireland MD, Cormac Watters, said: "The first thing to say is it's great to see 34% of customers in a position where they feel they understand it and where they communication has been clear and received. I would hope this time next year we would increase that to 50%."

But he admitted SAP must help customers who are not sold on S/4 to discover value in it, saying: "We need to deliver clear guidance on what the roadmap would be, could be, should be and we believe we have [built] a self service tool to help with that."

On the 12% who haven't heard of S/4, he added: "I was a little bit surprised but we live in the S/4 HANA environment. That's the result and we need to listen to it and understand it, there's something that's not quite getting to the whole userbase so let's find some different channels."

Calling SAP's marketing teams' role in this "vital", Watters pointed to 97 specific campaigns featuring S/4 last year.

SAP's SVP of Portfolio and Commercialization Strategy, Hala Zeine, said that the vast majority of S/4 adoption is on-premise, with less than 5% running it on a public cloud.