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SAP CEO only teases S/4HANA details at Sapphire

ORLANDO, Fla. -- SAP CEO Bill McDermott's keynote opening the 2015 Sapphire Now conference Tuesday was unusually short on real news or specifics about the new S/4HANA platform -- a fact not lost on some attendees, as well as journalists and analysts covering the conference.

In this video, SearchSAP editors Jim O'Donnell and David Essex sit down with Jon Reed, an independent analyst and co-founder of The group discussed the keynote and the expectation of many observers and SAP users that the vendor would clarify its roadmap for S/4HANA and its "Run Simple" strategy.

In his speech, McDermott announced no new products or new technologies, leaving Sapphire attendees with little to chew on. "It's the only keynote in history that I know of at SAP that ended ahead of schedule -- it was about 20-30 minutes short," said Reed in the video. "Some of that time could have arguably been used to add a little more meat on the bone to some things."

McDermott's keynotes are usually intended to only set the general tone by introducing or reiterating high-level technology and marketing strategies, with SAP's technical leaders left to fill in details in later Sapphire Now keynotes. This year's presentation, however, was unusual in not revealing anything strictly new. The commentators said they expected more details -- including for S/4HANA -- to come when Bernd Leukert, a member of SAP's executive board, took the main stage the following morning.

"It's very difficult to find a customer that disagrees with SAP's vision," Reed said. "The vision always seems to really resonate -- but it's, 'how do I get there?'"

The group agreed that Fiori, the vendor's platform for designing software that improves the user experience and is a centerpiece of Run Simple, was in greater evidence at the Sapphire Now conference.   "Fiori is one of SAP's big success stories," Reed said. "You're talking about a unified vision of UI [user interface] that's much more lightweight. To me, that's the future. We're living off our mobile devices, so you want to have these types of HTML 5-compliant interfaces."

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