Users Speak Out about SAP NetWeaver

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Starting around August of last year I started tracking down SAP users who were early adopters of the NetWeaver platform, and I found an interesting dynamic happening that lead me to continue researching what was going on.

What I found was that SAP was attracting entirely new customers based on the NetWeaver platform.

What makes this unique in the SAP world is that the vast majority of SAP applications get sold because there is an ERP instance somewhere in the organization to tie back to. Rarely if ever in the years of doing primary research on their customer base would I find a reference who had just come onboard for their channel management applications for example. NetWeaver on the other hand is starting to show up as the architecture for future Web Services in some companies who were not multi-decade ERP customers for example. This finding contradicted many people’s perceptions (including my own) of just how SAP goes about selling their applications. I decided to go all out and complete a research study of SAP NetWeaver early adopters, mostly out of personal interest but also because I love doing primary research and wanted to see what could be learned from NetWeaver early adopters.

What I Found Out

It’s a good thing I started this project in August as a hobby of sorts because the effort to get people to respond to a survey on this topic takes a fair amount of work. Also I attended SAP user group meetings in my area and continued to work at getting the Zoomerang survey to people who were kind enough to provide their e-mail addresses. The big break in getting connected with NetWeaver users came from a friend at Disney who introduced me to several and the networking started working from there. From that point I was able to complete a decent sample size of 300 companies distributed globally, and visited many companies locally through user group meetings and buying lunches. The result is a report published in December titled Users Speak Out About SAP NetWeaver.

Here are some of the key take-aways from the research:

* The majority of manufacturing companies start out with the vision of unifying databases that had been siloed nearly out of existence in the past so channel strategies can be more aggressively pursued. This focus on creating competitive advantage through better integration pervaded the conversations with users.

* Integration to support growth strategies was by far the largest driver of investment. Companies are looking to turn their data warehouses into a competitive advantage outnumbered those looking to consolidate databases in general. There is a definite atmosphere of using NetWeaver as a platform to stimulate revenue growth over simply completing database consolidations.

* Consolidating portals onto a single platform is where Halliburton and others are both moving towards in their NetWeaver strategy. This is a common theme in many of the early adopters; they want to have a single portal for the majority, if not all, applications in specific business units.

* In manufacturing industries the challenge of handling Engineering Change Orders ECOs) and order change sequencing between Oracle and SAP systems is an area that causes shared customers much pain. Intermediating between both systems for their change order numbering sequence took custom development to resolve for example.

* One high tech manufacturer uses SAP NetWeaver as the integration hub for their order capture, order management and fulfilment systems, including integration to an Oracle supply chain system. The pay-off for this manufacturer is the elimination of manual product option updates that was previously done at the director level of the company as these senior managers are the only ones with the interrelationships of products in their heads. Instead of having to work one weekend a month to update the order capture systems, directors can have a Saturday off.

* One heavy equipment manufacturer did an ROI analysis for NetWeaver integration and built in assumptions of cost savings based on headcount reductions. As the NetWeaver integration project came online, it was apparent that more integration engineers were needed than budgeted, and the two engineers were re-assigned to those roles. This is a familiar situation in those companies that did do ROI on NetWeaver projects; they focused on headcount reductions and ended up re-assigning the engineers and staff they thought they would not need anymore.

* When those customers who came to SAP for NetWeaver were asked why they made that decision the two most common responses were integration experience and pricing or licensing. There were also an even mix of responses across industry expertise and ease of customization as well.

* When SAP customers with a median of 6 to 10 years of experience with SAP were asked what they would most like to change about the company, they asked for greater simplification and management of licenses. Specifically they asked for a portal view of all licenses so they could manage their entire SAP investment efficiently.

SAP Satisfaction Levels

The research shows that the majority of companies are either satisfied to somewhat satisfied with SAP and this is again a fascinating point. For the next survey the reasons why satisfaction is where it is need to be explored.

If you are any SAP customer, feel free to participate in the survey. I will provide a summary of the results next month.

Bottom Line

There’s not that much of a correlation between over-the-top enthusiasm on the one hand in the SAP base and NetWeaver adoption, or in other words the SAP zealots out there aren’t necessarily leading the charge to NetWeaver. What is leading the charge is the integration expertise that new customers are seeing and the ability to get clear licensing and pricing terms nailed down early in their relationships with SAP.


To get a copy of the study: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000CVIL0I/qid=1136398691/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-8674094-8326247?v=glance&s=ebooks

Users Speak Out about SAP NetWeaver
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