German ERP vendor SAP has kick-started the new decade with renewed strength. After undergoing a series of leadership changes in the past year, the company appears set on re-examining its product and strategy roadmaps based on customer feedback and more realistic self-assessment. Not surprisingly, it is S/4HANA – the new iteration of SAP’s core ERP system — the one leading the charge.
The firm was originally scheduled to discontinue support for its current ECC Business Suite in 2025, hoping the deadline would prompt a critical mass of its customers to transition to S/4HANA. However, after sluggish early adoption rates and mounting stakeholder pressure, the new leadership team decided back in February to give customers a much-needed extension.
Under the new roadmap, SAP ensures first-party support for ECC until 2030 – albeit free, general-access maintenance will be discontinued in 2027. At the same time, the company is future-proofing its customers’ investment in S/4HANA by promising platform support until the end of 2040.
Although it is still early to tell the extent to which this new policy will impact adoption in the coming months, the measures have been well-received among the community. Additionally, the migration to S/4HANA is only poised to keep gaining momentum as digital transformation initiatives across the globe enter a more mature phase.
Accelerating S/4HANA adoption
A few factors have been holding up widespread adoption of S/4HANA. First of all, there seems to be a generalised confusion around the benefits and specifics capabilities of S/4HANA. A recent study by Resulting IT revealed that SAP consultants are only marginally more knowledgeable in the platform than their clients.
The insight is pretty telling and suggests that SAP could have failed in its past efforts to communicate with its stakeholders and manage change. Thankfully, that problem has a relatively easy solution. The latest changes in leadership and the extension of ECC support signal the company’s awareness of this issue and increase confidence that it will be addressed.
Understanding S/4HANA is crucial for its adoption. This might sound like an obvious requirement for buying into a new product, but it is especially important in S/4HANA. This is not a simple software update that can be installed over the weekend. The next-generation ERP suite implies a profound redesign in terms of architecture that requires companies to invest a lot of resources and re-evaluate internal processes to carry out the migration. On top of that, existing customers who have already invested a lot of money in ECC customizations will have to start from scratch.
Therefore, it is paramount that the decision to embark on a migration project stems from a solid business case if it wants to succeed. It is never easy to convince entire teams and organisations to change their processes, but trying to do so without strong arguments and a clear roadmap can be dangerous. Moving to S/4HANA is not exclusively an IT call. It requires that business leaders across the organisation are involved in the decision-making and willing to implement changes.
Time will tell how SAP’s renewed focus on S/4HANA translates into client adoption. However, recent announcements make us think the company is on the right track and the S/4HANA will only gain momentum from now on.
Is your company planning to move to S/4HANA but is still not sure when? You might want to hurry things up.
If you are a specialist in SAP technologies but still haven’t gotten your feet wet with S/4HANA, here is why and how you should do it.
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