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SAP pitches BI to business, not IT (but is business ready?)

by Davin Wilfrid

December 9, 2010

by Davin Wilfrid, insiderRESEARCH

At the SAP Influencer Summit this week, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe positioned SAP's approach to BI as a radical departure from Oracle's mantra of "owning the stack." While Oracle pitches the advantages of a single provider for hardware, storage, and applications, SAP is busy innovating for an era where the cloud makes most of that capability irrelevant, according to ComputerWorld:

“With cloud computing, the hardware will move into the cloud and become commoditized. The front-end will become a mobile device of any form factor, and that's what we're innovating for,” said Snabe. “That will change the value-proposition and the stack gets lost in the shuffle, so we don't need to acquire all the pieces in the stack when we can change it through innovation.”

The upshot is that while Oracle is busy selling technology to the IT team, SAP will be pitching its BI solutions directly to the business. The idea is to leverage the capabilities of the cloud to pitch BI so lutions directly to the decision-maker.

It's a smart strategy, and one we'll see more of as cloud computing matures. However, there are some indications that the SAP customer base is not entirely ready for this type of pitch. insiderRESEARCH recently surveyed more than 300 SAP customers who use some form of business intelligence solution, and found that nearly 63% did not believe their end users had the skills necessary to get the most out of SAP BusinessObjects solutions.

Whether that's simply a misperception or a reflection of the complexity of using SAP BusinessObjects tools, it's an issue SAP will want to solve as it moves toward a business-focused pitch. As hardware and infrastructure are commoditized by the cloud, the applications that rise to the top will not necessarily be those with the most bells and whistles -- instead they will be those that are perceived as striking the right balance between productivity and ease of use. SAP has a great product and a solid strategy with SAP BusinessObjects, but if it's going to sell to the business, it has to focus on the user experience.


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