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The Perfect Storm (By Frank Wammes) arrived on the 12th of November, when SAP hosted the Sapphire/TechEd event in Madrid. The buses waiting all over town to get SAP guests to the conference venue in the event of a national transportation strike made it clear that something big was happening.

With the big strike announced for the 14th, we knew we would be heading into some kind of storm, but no one could predict that the storm would also be in a completely different area. It began with the keynote address which was started by Bill McDermot, who was not able to be live on stage but came in through a video conference.

He started the kickoff by referring to the big trends in the IT industry and the opportunities this would generate. Combining forces like mobile, social, cloud and big data, opportunities will arise that we have never seen before in the industry. Indeed, another reference to a perfect storm: A lot of things coming together. But the real question is where is the best place to be during the storm.

Whilst the storm is heading toward you, you can only see the separate trends approaching, in a circle, piece by piece.  But in the middle you get the combination of things and it is quiet and peaceful. That is exactly where the different forces converge into powerful applications. A good example is the introduction of Customer 365, the new way SAP will help companies cherish and retain their customers. It’s completely based on combining the new forces.

But how to weather the storm? What is the role customers can play themselves? Do you need to invest? Will SAP drive the new initiatives and you just wait? How to be safe in the middle of the storm? These are question that are not easily answered, but I will give some hints on what I personally think you need to consider.

Three years ago I published an article on this blog that addressed the rise of the App world. Apple had just announced the Mac Store for the Mac. This new way of distributing software on the desktop was, for me, the final proof that applification would not only take place on mobile devices, but would further penetrate our lives on the desktop. Since then other platforms have announced the implementation of app stores and large enterprise software providers have started their own app environments.

The next stage for SAP will not be in the further development of ERP processes, but in the creation of stand-alone applications that are built on new technologies acquired or invented: For instance, building pieces of technology that have Hana, Cloud, Social in it, all preferably unlocked using mobile. The first step will need to be that it is easy to unlock and integrate with data in the SAP ERP solution, but a next step could be an open integration to other backbones.

If this is how the scenario goes, then SAP will move on to the next phase, which takes things from ERP to platform to power Apps provider. Forget the war on the stack; it is the war on the Power App –  Which companies will be able to churn out (together with their eco system) the right power Apps for their industries?

But where will this leave you? Either waiting for the power Apps from SAP or building your own. My suggestion would be to start exploring the technologies and create competitive advantage by bringing some of your own Apps into play.

Next step could also be to work together with SAP to invest in some power Apps that will benefit the whole industry. It is a network economy, don’t be afraid to co-operate: co-operate to profit, I would say.   Perhaps this is a good reference point for the current perfect storm taking place in the economy. Instead of blaming countries, co-operate and work together on new business models to get back in the middle of the perfect storm. It will also help the Spanish people who had to strike on the 14th !

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