Just back from a great conference held by the SAPInsider team from Wellesley Information Services. Like past years, this year was great. Here are some of my takeaways, impressions, and lasting thoughts while still fresh in the brain:
- The messaging was clearer, but the sales pitch needs to go. The good news from the conference was that SAP and SuccessFactors did a much better job at the positioning of the strategy/roadmap than last year. I thought David Ludlow did a nice job with the message delivery at the keynote. Outside of the keynote, the sessions largely had the same quality and diversity in previous years (great job to SAPInsider, Riz, and Amy Thistle). My session on mobility really resonated with the audience, as did many important subjects on integration and HANA. The only downer for me was that there was selling in some of the vendor-led presentations. This is a customer-driven event and it should focus on ‘how-tos’, case studies, and best practices. Let’s focus on describing the options for our customers and how we can help drive successful deployments.
- Impressed with access to SAP and SuccessFactors staff. This year more than any other we had more SAP/SuccessFactors representation at the conference. Also, some SAP folks were available on Twitter throughout the conference, such as @watchthewave and @brianclendenin which enabled us to clarify some items right then during the conference. For example, I had a question around Plateau’s performance management offering that was clarified by a SuccessFactors VP in about 1 hour. I learned first hand how powerful social can be, especially in a conference setting.
- Innovation around HR Renewal and deployment challenges. Like others, I saw some cool things around HR Renewal, but am concerned around how quickly it can be adopted by the bulk of customers. First , it does require the customer to be at a certain version/patch: SAP ERP 6.0, Enhancement Package 6 on with SP Stack 03. What’s difficult here is that we have alot of things being thrown in front of customers from an ESS/MSS perspective: there was the conversion to Web Dynpro ABAP (which is now complete, as of EhP6), then there was CORBU, then HR Renewal for the HR Business Partner, then an extension of this for ESS and MSS. Also, throw in the mix of SAP Portal versus NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC). For those customers who are a SharePoint shop, NWBC is a consideration (to be consumed in a web part), but the challenge now is that SAP Portal is pretty well entrenched in SAP customers and it’s hard to rip that out at this point. When surveyed at my ESS/MSS customer session, about 80-90% were using the SAP Portal. Net new clients might be a different story. So we need to guide our customers in this hazy area. [As a side note, I was disappointed with the demo during the keynote, as it appeared slow (due to connectivity issues). At one point, the screen went blank. Also, the Employee Central demo appeared a bit slow during the keynote, and it was given shorter airtime (not sure why?).
- Some thoughts around functionality offerings of SAP/SuccessFactors:
- Jobs2Web adds huge capability for the Recruiting solution from a social (SocialMatcher) and candidate User experience perspective. However, the recruiter functionality (original SuccessFactors Recruiting) needs improvement, which I hope is an area of innovation for SAP/SuccessFactors.
- Performance management (and goals) continues to be a strong and compelling offering. I’m not sold on the use case of the new goals app for my iPhone, but the offering in sum is functionality rich.
- Qualifications management is a key issue needing a solution. Since many customers maintain a qualifications catalog within their core HR system, and since the go forward solution is SuccessFactors, there needs to be a well-thought out plan to sync this within a hybrid environment.
- I believe the SAP on premise Enterprise Compensation Management (ECM) and SuccessFactors comp/variable pay are comparable in terms of functionality. I heard from several customers who will stay on premise with compensation since their variable pay calculations/business process need special attention. Those that have SAP Payroll on premise, I also see value in coupling the comp with the payroll.
- We need more clarity in the Workforce Analytics and HANA areas. From the information I gathered, and from the customers I met with, there is still alot of confusion around the strategy on premise v. cloud, around these two items. I suspect we will hear more about these items during SAPPHIRE in May.
- Employee Central needs to grapple with the concurrent/ global employment use case since it currently cannot handle multiple contracts. Again, an area SAP/SuccessFactors needs to invest in.
- Time management was largely absent during the sessions and throughout the conference.
- Cloud Payroll was mentioned at a very high level. When will we hear more about this?
Next stop is the 2013 SAPPHIRE/ASUG conference. Hope to see all my friends there, and learn more!
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