SAP users don’t believe the digital hype

Man pointing to digital wall

SAP customers are struggling to get past vendors' digital buzzwords and find practical advice on moving from legacy IT to new technology systems, it is claimed.

A total 80 per cent of members surveyed by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group admitted they are sceptical of terms like digitalisation' and digital transformation', seeing them as repackaging exercises employed by vendors to update their portfolios, rather than words describing truly innovative new products.

Meanwhile, 58 per cent of the 107 SAP customers polled in the survey said that vendors and service providers are guilty of over-hyping the terms.

Speaking at the UKISUG 2015 conference in Birmingham today, User Group chairman Philip Adams said: "Our feedback has indicated there's a lot of buzzwords, maybe a wee bit of hype, around the whole concept of digital business.

"That doesn't mean that users don't believe that the vendors or community have a value to add. We fully believe that you're critical to our success.

"So our message is plain and simple. We don't need to hear the buzzwords, we just want to work with you in practical ways to help define that business case [for digital transformation], to understand the process design, the hands-off transformation advice you can give us so that we can define our strategy and start implementing these projects."

In fact, the organisation's survey found that 30 per cent of SAP customers already have a digital strategy in place, and 36 per cent without such a strategy are nevertheless embarking on digital projects.

Of that latter figure, 69 per cent consider digital transformation a priority, and 87 per cent are focusing on modernising either back or front-end functions.

But respondents told the user group they still face challenges, including the fear that digitisation will lead to a growth of data while 82 per cent were worried about unspecified security risks.

Philip Adams, chairman of the UK&I SAP User Group, at UKISUG15

"Clearly the majority believe digital transformation is a priority for their organisation," said Adams. "I'm sure there are many reasons [the rest haven't embraced a digital strategy], from time, resources, management support, expertise, not being sure where to start."

While just a fifth of respondents saw SAP as a leader in digital, and 18 per cent called the company an innovator, two-thirds of those surveyed believe SAP can help them digitise their businesses.

More than half said they are already working with SAP on digital projects, and Adams said there is an opportunity for the German software giant to work with more customers on digital.

"SAP is clearly part of these plans. We just need that help to deliver and transform against the backdrop of keeping our day-to-day business processes running," he added.

Commenting on the survey's findings, UK and Ireland MD of SAP, Cormac Watters, said: "While the results of the survey are encouraging for us; users already believe that SAP is an innovator and leader in this space, and they are embracing change, we are focused on how we practically help our customers on their digital journey.

"While digital transformation presents great opportunity, it can also lead to complexity that is highlighted by the hype in the industry. It is our responsibility to guide our customers through this hype, to enable them to get true value quickly from digitalisation."