This content is part of the Essential Guide: SAP Sapphire Now 2014: Special conference coverage

SAP says 'run simple,' users retort: 'back at ya'

SAP's new mantra is "run simple." Can the behemoth software company follow its own advice?

ORLANDO - Software giant SAP wants its customers to "run simple." But customers and industry observers say SAP must do a better job of leading the way with its own software, which is notorious for having many features but being very complex to run.

SAP CEO Bill McDermott says that "the most intractable CEO challenge of our time is complexity."

"Has complexity taken over?" McDermott said during the keynote address at the Sapphire Now and Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG) conference in Orlando this week. "Is it in charge? Are we getting to the point where we've had enough?"

Throughout his keynote, the screen behind McDermott flashed with SAP's new mantra of "run simple." But attendees said that SAP hasn't always done a good job of that itself. We asked three of them what SAP could do to help organizations run SAP software more simply. This is what they had to say.

Keep up with Hadoop, open source
"I think it's possible for SAP to be more agile. Based on the keynote from Bill McDermott, SAP obviously has a vested interest in doing that and realizes it has to keep pace. If I knew how to do it, I'd probably be Bill McDermott. I don't know exactly how they make it happen, but I think it's possible and I think they will because I think they realize they have to.

"They need to keep up with the Hadoop infrastructure and increase the number of service pack releases. The IT team that manages Hadoop constantly wants to upgrade Hadoop, but we are a limiting factor because SAP Data Services doesn't support those latest versions. So if SAP released more frequently, allowing us to leverage the open source technology faster, that would simplify the end-to-end process for us."

Kevin Davis, senior data warehouse engineer, Adobe

Presenter, " Adobe’s Story of Integrating Hadoop and SAP HANA with SAP Data Services"

Be more mobile-friendly
"Put everything you possibly can into a Web browser or on an iPad. We all want applications that feel like a mobile app -- it's the consumerization of enterprise software. We want something that's fast, two clicks and you're done, because you have better things to do with your time. That's where SAP should put its focus - make it feel like I just bought this on the app store. In, out and done.

"If you're out counting inventory, you should have an iPad. Have a plus and minus button and that's it. I select the product, it says plus and minus, and I can type in my numbers. Easy. Make it simple."

Conner Helton, controller, Avery Brewing Company

Cloud development and HANA to reduce coding
"It’s ironic that SAP is going with the slogan of simplicity, when historically SAP has been known for systems that are functionally rich but very complex. If SAP can truly make its solutions simple to use, but still functionally complete, it may have a shot at relevance in the age of cloud systems.

"In my view, there are two ways in which SAP can allow its customers to run simple.  First, through cloud deployment it can remove much of the complexity that comes from installing and maintaining an SAP instance on premises. SAP can assume the responsibility for system upgrades and routine maintenance, freeing its customers to focus on business value instead of technical care and feeding.

"Second, its work with HANA is promising to simplify the applications themselves, by reducing the number of tables within the applications and using a single transactional store instead of aggregated data. This can dramatically reduce the number of lines of code, resulting in apps that are simpler for SAP to maintain and easier for customers to use.

"That’s the story. Whether SAP can execute on this vision remains to be seen."

Frank Scavo, president, Strativa, management consulting firm

Fiori and UI5
“Historically, you always thought of SAP as being very complex. I think [run simple] is the right direction. Sometimes to make things simple is very complex in the background.

“Fiori and UI5 is a very good thing. [Now] you don’t need SAP developers to develop front ends to SAP. In a matter of weeks, not months, you can deliver some pretty cool things.

Brian Wilcox, director of IT, Johnson & Johnson

With additional reporting by David Essex, Executive Editor,

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