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SuccessFactors now leading SAP cloud strategy, but questions remain

SAP has placed a huge bet on a new executive “born in the cloud” and on a company that will now guide both companies’ roadmap for existing products.

With SuccessFactors now fully responsible for consolidating the SAP cloud portfolio of products, the task of integrating...

the two organizations will certainly lead to winners and losers among SAP’s existing products.

This week at SAP SapphireNow 2012 , SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe promoted the company’s bold move into the cloud. The goal is to move everything to the cloud and to mobile platforms while still allowing its customers the option to run on-premises software.

Last December’s $3.4 billion acquisition of SuccessFactors provides a new vision and roadmap for SAP’s cloud product strategy. Former SuccessFactors CEO, Lars Dalgaard, joined the SAP management team as a man whom McDermott lauded this week as having been “born in the cloud.”

Future of SAP cloud OnDemand apps

SAP has made similarly bold moves in the past in a number of technologies, both through acquisition and organic innovation over the past several years. With each innovation, existing SAP customers wonder about the fate of their installed products and whether they will be offered OnDemand or on premises.

The roadmap for some of the OnDemand applications -- and how those applications tie together with the cloud ERP offering SAP Business ByDesign-- is still fully to be determined. In several statements and tweets, Dalgaard has repeated his support for Business ByDesign. However, he noted in his keynote speech that Business ByDesign “hasn’t been positioned right or explained right and people haven’t been trained right. There isn’t much I can say that’s been done right.”

In other cases, such as StreamWork, the apparent lack of direction for the product and its roadmap has caused frustration.  For example, integrations to StreamWork that are supported in earlier versions of SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) are no longer supported in EPM 10. As of this writing, SAP has not publicly announced a commitment date for supporting StreamWork integration to EPM 10.

William Newman is managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, an independent management and technology consulting firm based in Clarkston, Mich. Contact him via email at or follow him on Twitter (@william_newman).

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