Before now, most companies have acquired S/4HANA software and services individually. Now, SAP is offering a comprehensive software subscription for the first time to help companies navigate the digital transformation: RISE with SAP. Swisscom experts Lars Künzler and Hanspeter Groth explain who the offering is intended for.
Text: Andreas Kunkel, Images: iStock, 25th
Mr Groth, Mr Künzler, hello. We need to talk about RISE with SAP. SAP is billing its bundle, which it launched in January, as a comprehensive, simplified full-service offering. It is focused on the SAP S/4HANA ERP system, which is purchased via a subscription model. SAP installs and operates it on a cloud provider's platform. Because the entire software platform infrastructure is vertical in nature, meaning that everything comes from a single source, the idea is that companies should receive the best possible support in their digital transformation processes. Furthermore, there is no longer any need for an upfront investment.
Künzler: The cloud is the mainstay of the digital transformation. RISE with SAP sets new standards in that respect alone. However, the bundle is not the worry-free, no-strings-attached package that some might have hoped for. The 'one offer, one contract, one partner' concept requires a willingness to commit to a long-term exclusive partnership with SAP. That comes with clear benefits, because companies have a guarantee that SAP will ensure that all the SAP systems continue to run smoothly. However, it does require them to become even more inextricably tethered to SAP. Plus, if a company wants to use more computing power from the cloud on account of seasonal business, it will have to pay for this capacity during the less lucrative part of the year as well. If it were to stay that way, that would run counter to the adaptability that I expect from a cloud.
Groth: Many customers have previously purchased their software from SAP. However, they also use other partners where necessary to run the SAP application landscape. With RISE with SAP, companies can have all of it done in one place. However, that won't always be the best option for every customer. After all, SAP partners generally not only have closer links to customers but can also offer alternatives. They may also operate non-SAP applications, for example.
Künzler: Yes, RISE does make intensive use of the cloud. That adds extra flexibility in the company's process management and makes it easier to maintain the applications. It is particularly beneficial for individual corporate groups. One example is an SME that wants to use SAP's ERP software and focus entirely on its core business.
Groth: Correct, but that's not all. Because in a case like that, RISE can help in financial terms as well. Smaller companies usually don't have IT departments, and if they do, they tend not to be very big. With RISE, they get comprehensive service from SAP. This ensures that all SAP applications work at all times and that any problems are dealt with swiftly. That applies regardless of whether they arise at infrastructure, platform or application level.
Künzler: However, it's a bit different when a company is more diverse and the IT landscape becomes more complex as a result. In that case, a horizontal approach should be considered, whereby rather than SAP, a service partner handles the operation of the systems, and particularly systems from other providers.
Groth: We often hear that. But there is no robust set of data yet to back up a sweeping statement along those lines. If we compare available services assuming various customer situations, RISE is not always automatically the most attractively priced option.
Künzler: Especially as you need to consider the contract term, which is normally three or five years in the case of RISE. With the RISE model, customers lease the SAP software. That means you need to consider sign-up conditions, such as prices and fees, as well as your options for switching if the model turns out not to be the right fit.
Künzler: RISE is a kind of stepping stone between a pure SaaS system and complete individuality with the aid of an on-premise S/4HANA solution. As for how useful the service is, every company needs to decide that for itself based primarily on strategic assessments and its existing IT landscape. The support of experienced, independent experts is generally a great help in these situations.
Groth: We operate independently, we're familiar with the needs of Swiss companies when it comes to SAP, and we can offer a comprehensive overview of the market. That applies to not only technical aspects but also the fully integrated implementation of the strategy in question.
Künzler: As far as we are concerned, the question of which products and services make sense for which of a customer's departments and how they are coordinated with each other is
fundamental. Our many years of experience have allowed us to put together checklists and processes that help our customers to arrive at informed decisions on the best choice of products and services.
Groth: RISE with SAP is still new to the market, and we anticipate that it will continue to develop in a rapid and clear manner. RISE with SAP is something that we're focusing on quite closely, so we are following the subject proactively. We are keeping in touch with the experts at SAP as well as the DSAG, an organisation of German-speaking SAP users – and, of course, with our customers.