“Can you believe this is our thirtieth anniversary conference?” Paul Cooper says as he takes the stage in Birmingham in front of a packed crowd of SAP users.
As chairman of the UK & SAP User Group, which consists of a community of over 680 member organisations and 6,000 SAP professionals, he’s seen some changes over the years – and helped affect more than a few too.
Noting the longevity of the group Mr Cooper comments that: “Maybe most importantly we’ve stayed relevant. Technology is always at the core of what we do, but we cater for so many different business audiences that we can’t be considered just a technical user group anymore.”
The SAP veteran adds: “As technology has become more important to the success of our organisations, the need for us to be able to influence technology vendors and service suppliers has become more important than ever.”
While Paul Cooper goes on to talk about the group’s mature partnership with SAP – Europe’s largest tech company – and its successes over the years, all is not entirely rosy within the SAP user ecosystem: “It wouldn’t be a user group conference without us talking about licensing. [The issue]’s not going away…” he says.
SAP User Group Conference: Licencing Challenges on Many Lips
In April of this year SAP announced a new licensing model for indirect access; while the user group welcomed the model, they are quick to comment that SAP needs to give “reassurances to existing customers.”
Indirect access occurs when a SAP customer uses a third-party application in conjunction with SAP’s database.
The concerns over indirect access come after the company Diageo enabled SAP’s ERP system to be accessed via third-party software, in that case Salesforce software.
This resulted in SAP bringing a legal case against Diageo with the courts ruling that Diageo should pay SAP £54,503,578 worth of damages.
That case was settled out of court, but it has left the user base concerned.
SAP says that it wants to show its customers greater empathy when it comes to the issue of indirect licensing and the users do have questions such as when is a customer deemed to have indirect usage? Will SAP change the rules in their future?
SAP have stated that it is hard to judge these issues as each customer scenario is different, to which Paul Cooper says the company should: “Give us the 10 most typical and talk us through how the commercials worked out.”
He is clearly speaking as a representative of the user group, because he makes their concerns visible: “Most of us in this room have been SAP customers for many years and we need to know that we won’t be asked pay more for indirect use cases and implementations that were undertaken in good faith prior to the new model.”
“Without reassurances, and we see this in our conversations, customers could find themselves in a state of paralysis, afraid to look backwards or forwards, even afraid to look at what they are going to invest,” states Cooper.
Licensing is the big talking point here in Birmingham and it is clear that SAP needs to give a more concrete reassurance to the user base that has so far remained loyal, but patience does have a habit of running out.