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Perhaps it’s the nature of the industry but, there are a lot of statistics floating around about the speed of technology adoption. Just Google ‘technology adoption’ and an avalanche of links appear comparing the uptake of everything from electricity to phablets and everything in-between. Apparently, researchers love comparing who and what is winning the technology race. 

Included in this numbers contest is a recent study by the American SAP User Group (ASUG) on the penetration of SAP HANA. According to ASUG,…’(55 percent) [of customers] said they hadn’t purchased SAP HANA technology, while 151 (40 percent) said that they have.’

ASUG also surveyed the SAP partner community – including those systems integrators, implementers and strategic advisors to SAP’s customer base.
ASUG asked a total of 93 partner respondents whether any of their customers had purchased any SAP HANA-related products, 60 percent of the respondents said yes.

To my way of thinking, these statistics look pretty good – a 40% adoption rate by SAP customers, whose purchase has been strongly backed by SAP’s partner ecosystem. But, ASUG appears to offer a different point of view stating ‘…SAP faces a tall—but not insurmountable—task with its customer base in convincing them that SAP HANA should be in their immediate future plans.’

So, should SAP celebrate or be despondent?

Let’s look at the numbers. What is an appropriate benchmark in the race to adopt technology?

The first smart phone was introduced in 2002 with the release of the first BlackBerry capable of making a phone call (and, incidentally, my first cell phone). That same landmark year, Handspring launched the first Palm-OS-powered Treo and Microsoft shipped its Pocket PC Phone Edition. As another landmark, in late 2006, Apple announced its now-iconic iPhone. According to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byer’s 2013 estimates based on Morgan Stanley Research and ITU data, global smart phone users as a % of cell phone users is 30% – up from 5% five years earlier. Smartphones are acknowledged to have spread faster than any consumer technology in history, reaching market maturity more rapidly than phones, radio, TV, and the internet. 

What about business adoption rates? One could argue that here the dispute gets a lot more complex. If the statistics aren’t clear, is the ROI or business value apparent? While at risk of being accused of comparing apples to oranges and bananas, let’s take cloud computing as the business trend du jour. 

Whether you believe cloud computing is a new name for an old idea or, the hottest new trend in IT, references to cloud computing can be found as early as 1996, when (according to Wikipedia) the earliest known mention is found in a Compaq internal document. Certainly, it can be no younger than 2006 when introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud.

According to a Microsoft Corp. commissioned study conducted by 451 Research in March of this year entitled ‘Hosting and Cloud Go Mainstream: 2014’, more than 45 percent of organizations are beyond the pilot phase, and 32 percent now possess a formal cloud computing plan as part of their overall IT and business strategy.

Keeping in mind the recent ASUG HANA research has surveyed an SAP-only population, compared to other technology adoption figures, it nonetheless suggests that SAP HANA penetration is robust.  Let’s go back to SAP’s partner ecosystem for a final temperature check. Questioned ‘As to when SAP
partners anticipate their clients who are SAP customers—but haven’t purchased SAP HANA—will buy SAP HANA’.  More than 50 percent ‘believe that will happen within two years. Just over 20 percent stated that will happen in more than two years. Only 28 percent said they didn’t know.

Is ‘the clock ticking for SAP’ as ASUG suggests? I believe as organizations adopt HANA more broadly, they will increasingly realize more value and the perceived challenges of adopting HANA will decline. But, only time and technology will tell.