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SAP partners sound off on Rise with SAP program

SAP customers considering a move to S/4HANA may be attracted to the simplicity of Rise with SAP, a recently launched program that may also be a boon for SAP partners.

Rise with SAP is the company's most recent attempt to entice customers to move to S/4HANA, but SAP recognizes that it can't do the job alone.

Rise with SAP is a framework to help SAP customers migrate to a cloud version of its next-generation ERP using the cloud provider of their choice, as well as any provider services, and combining all threads into one contract, making SAP the single point of contact.

The announcement raised questions about where the partner ecosystem fits in, but SAP has repeated time and again that the initiative will open up new opportunities for its partners and that customer success will depend on their efforts.

Still, the question remains as to whether Rise with SAP's bundle of software and services will entice customers to make the move. SAP partners said they are cautiously optimistic that the program will provide the impetus to do just that, but they also recognize that the program may not be a good fit for all SAP customers and partners, and they question whether it will accelerate the migration timeline.

Establishing cloud relevance

Rise with SAP is an interesting attempt by SAP to demonstrate relevance as a cloud company to its customers, said Don Dickinson, president of Dickinson + Associates, which provides a variety of services for SAP systems and is based in Chicago.

The Rise initiative includes attractive components for both customers and partners. For customers, the program includes S/4HANA, the cloud infrastructure of choice and access to the SAP Business Technology Platform cloud-based development environment, Dickinson said. Rise with SAP also ensures partners will have access to tools that they can use to help with the customer transition.

Don Dickinson, president, Dickinson + Associates Don Dickinson

For customers, however, the appeal of Rise with SAP may depend on a company's size, IT resources and the complexity of the SAP system.

"It's going to get traction first with midmarket and emerging customers, because those size companies probably have a smaller battleship to turn around because their systems aren't heavily customized," Dickinson said. "They also probably have a little more desire to have simplified contracts with SAP and simplified approaches to doing things."

Smaller to midmarket companies may not have the resources to hire SAP partners that can do the benchmarking that Rise with SAP provides to prepare for an S/4HANA migration, he said, and the program provides access to applications and services that may have been out of reach.

"The real value is that if you're an emerging or midmarket company, you have a simpler contract and SAP has thrown in more software -- the SAP Business Network, SAP Ariba, the Business Technology Platform; all that stuff is in there and it's easier to consume," he said.

The bundle of applications and extensions makes the adoption of the broader business transformation product set easier and more attractive for customers, said Shaun Syvertsen, CEO of ConvergentIS, a firm that provides SAP system migration and application development products and services and is based in Calgary, Alta.

Shaun Syvertsen, managing partner and CEO, ConvergentISShaun Syvertsen

Rise with SAP is the beginning of a real shift for the ERP behemoth to a consumption-based model, he said.

"Customers often appreciate where SAP is driving and investing, which is clearly the case here," Syvertsen said. "Indeed, it's garnering significant interest already and I'm confident it will help many customers make the move by enabling more of them to take a lower cost and, in many respects, a lower-risk brownfield approach to their migration to S/4HANA while still realizing value from new capabilities enabled by the modern platform."

Rise with SAP represents a much more credible way for SAP to claim that it's a cloud company, Dickinson agreed. It also aligns with customers' desires to have a more modern, consumable model, like those offered by competitors such as Workday and NetSuite.

"This allows SAP to say they're a cloud company with much more integrity," Dickinson said. "A customer can consume it, predict it and they don't have to get in the business of managing all these different services. They'll have a simpler way of managing their providers as it reduces the number of parties and contracts."

I'm not sure if it'll take off as the next big thing within SAP, as they do a lot of different programs, but I do feel that this one's got some legs.
Robbie PlourdeChief revenue officer, DataXstream

A slow start, but increasing demand

Rise with SAP will involve systems integrators (SIs) from SAP's extensive partner ecosystem to do much of the work of migrating systems to S/4HANA and building the extensions for a more modern, data-centric enterprise. It will also include access to migration tools and services from partners that the SIs use, or customers can deploy on their own.

One of these partners is SNP Group in Heidelberg, Germany. It provides applications and services that are designed to make S/4HANA migrations faster and less costly, according to Thomas Rosinski, president and managing director of SNP Americas.

Most SAP customers are still deciding if they are ready to go to S/4HANA now or wait a year or two, Rosinski said, so there may not be an immediate uptake of Rise with SAP.

"Once they've made that first decision that they want to go to S/4HANA, it'll be easier to decide if they want to Rise or not, and we will see people do it," he said. "We didn't do many S/4HANA migrations last year during COVID, but this year we have something like 70 different companies that are considering doing an S/4HANA migration in our pipeline. There's a lot of opportunity out there."

Thomas Rosinski, president and managing director, SNP AmericasThomas Rosinski

Rise with SAP should help customers find and implement SNP's "bluefield" approach to an S/4HANA migration, Rosinski said. The bluefield approach combines the greenfield approach, which focuses on implementing a new system, and the brownfield approach, which converts an existing SAP ECC system to S/4HANA and may retain some old processes.

"Most companies don't want to do a greenfield project and redesign the world because it costs too much and takes too long," he said. "Using [the bluefield approach], they can transform what they'd like to -- not everything should be redesigned -- but they can redesign the areas that are most important to them, so this whole process makes it a lot easier."

A mixed bag for SAP partners

The initiative is a mixed bag of opportunity for partners and will depend on their technical and business area, according to Syvertsen.

"A discrete role has been carved out for partners to help enable the solution configuration and implementation, while at the same time SAP is taking full control of the system maintenance -- traditionally the infrastructure and Basis support -- that some partners have made a living on," he said. "The partners who've built up a business driven primarily on managed Basis support will have some attrition from this, though many of them are no doubt adaptable."

Robbie Plourde, chief revenue officer, DataXstreamRobbie Plourde

Rise with SAP will also open opportunities for partners who have the tools needed to build a more state-of-the art company, according to Robbie Plourde, chief revenue officer of DataXstream, an SAP partner that provides a UX tool for B2B and B2C commerce sites.

Rise with SAP gives customers a bundle of products to help build modern applications rather than require them to search and find products separately, Plourde said. That's not just a benefit to customers, it's a bonus for partners.

Plourde agreed that Rise with SAP may get off to a slow start. Regardless, he's readying his products to support SAP's vision of things to come.

"I'm not sure if it'll take off as the next big thing within SAP, as they do a lot of different programs, but I do feel that this one's got some legs," he said.

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