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Not sure if ASUG had any clue of the magnitude of a storm that would start upon publishing their member survey results stating that “75 percent said that they had not yet built a business case or compelling value proposition for SAP HANA”. Maybe it was just the bad timing and SAP was still sulking from the July’s DSAG survey, but for whatever reason some folks over at SAP clearly were not so happy with the findings. The “official” response followed hinting politely that the surveyed customers were uninformed and some SCN blogs  (exhibit A and exhibit B) suggested a different interpretation of the results. And just as the storm was losing momentum, SAP brought the heavy artillery – Dr. Hasso Plattner himself. Wow!

But after all these rebuttals I felt that for some reason SAP simply did not get what ASUG survey results were saying. And since I was one of the 300+ ASUG members to actually respond to the survey, I feel responsible that somehow we did not make ourselves clear. So please allow me to bring it down in the most simple terms.

The Dior dress paradox

Both blogs by Dr. Plattner and Mr. Lucas featured some kind of car analogy. (Ugh, men! [eye roll] Thanks at least for not using golf.)

But let’s talk about fashion for diversity’s sake. Pretty much any dress by Dior (which is like Porsche of the fashion world) is a stunning work of art and such timeless beauty that almost makes you forget about the price tag. But even though I admire the design very much, somehow I just don’t feel compelled to rush and order one for myself. For the simple reason that I can neither afford it nor (more importantly) do I really need it. Where would I possibly wear it - Halloween potluck in the office? At the same time there are many people out there to whom a Dior dress is almost a necessity. And we somehow coexist on the same planet (imagine that!).

In case you didn’t get the analogy by now, there are SAP customers that need HANA just like I need a Dior dress, at least at this time. Which brings me to the next point.

VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, <?>

Have you noticed how DVDs came around the second you’ve finally completed the collection of your favorite movies on the VHS tapes? And good for you if you decided to sit one out and did not buy any DVDs because Blu-ray is all the rage now (and is becoming replaced by some new technology as you’re reading this, unless you’re in 2020 when Blu-ray must be like a gramophone already).

If you woke up today and decided to start a movie collection, Blu-ray would be the most logical choice. But, say, if you already have a DVD player, and some DVDs plus your TV is 10 years old and doesn’t support HD quality anyway and you’re fine with that then what would be the incentive to invest in a new TV, new player and new, more expensive, discs?

If you build it – they will come. Eventually.

In a comment to the already mentioned above blog I compared HANA to the cell phones. My fellow non-millennial SCN members must remember the first “bricks” that were an exotic accessory of rich and famous back in the days. But now even some elementary school kids already carry a cell phone to call mom and dad in case a stranger offers them candy. How did we get from there to here? By the means of cheaper and smaller phones, better network coverage and accessibility. Not by worrying about the adoption rates.

Not every student or housewife had one of the first cell phones and not every SAP customer is Unilever or Coca Cola. And it brings me to the next point.

Know thy customer

So not everyone needs a Dior dress or is in a rush to replace their DVDs with Blu-ray and the first cell phones were not for everyone either, even though now almost everyone has one. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? But when pretty much the same thing is said about HANA, all of a sudden SAP gets their Hulk on. What gives?

One of the examples of HANA’s awesomeness used at different SAP presentations is a scenario when a customer walks into some fancy-pants store and a sales rep is instantly able to identify the customer and offer them some products based on their past visits or some other intel. [In a totally non-creepy way.] Question: could SAP use HANA themselves to find out what their customers actually want and need?

Dior does not even bother advertising their dresses to me. They must have somehow figured out I’m not really their demographics. Most importantly, they also don’t try to convince the world that I don’t buy their dresses because I’m simply uninformed about how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious they are.

One might blame the disconnect between the SAP’s expectations and the survey results on bad research, marketing hiccup or ignorant customers that always have an axe to grind with SAP. But the bottom line is that it’s the Porsche dealership’s, errr, SAP’s direct interest to ensure that their products align with the customer’s needs and are reasonably priced. Unless the plan is to become the Dior of ERP system world (hmm, 'designer database' does have some nice ring to it!).

Group hug?

Dear SAP, the user groups are not attacking you. They are trying to repair and improve the relationship. If a partner tells you that they need help, would you simply cover the ears and go “la-la-la-la” or run away or would you try to help? It’s not too late to make a choice.

By the way, our next local ASUG meeting is at BMW Manufacturing and since y’all love cars so much, why don’t Dr. Hasso Plattner and Mr. Lucas and ASUG board of directors (no SCN profiles? you're killing me!) all come over, check out some rides, get a taste of Southern hospitality and hug it out? Now that would be a Dior dress worthy occasion! :smile:

Image credits: 'y u no guy meme' - authors own art based on Know Your Meme; phone image - Wikipedia; Dior dress - Wikimedia commons

Important disclaimer: this blog does not represent the opinion of ASUG or my employer.

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