SAP fondlers: IoT? Machine learning? Woah there, we still don't understand licensing

User conference opens with call for clarity on indirect access

Man closes his eyes and crosses fingers

Brit SAP users have little interest in adopting the German enterprise resource planning giant's self-branded "digital innovation system", Leonardo, citing licensing concerns as a barrier, according to a survey.

In a poll of almost 400 UK and Ireland-based organisations using SAP, some 58 per cent said they have concerns about indirect licensing – where customers can be hit with fees for any and all software that connects, even indirectly, to data stored on SAP systems.

The issue hit the headlines earlier this year, when Diageo was charged £54.4m for introducing two Salesforce.com systems, and the software firm later promised to simplify the rules.

Despite issued revised terms for Order to Cash, Procure to Pay and Static read – which the firm says makes up 80 per cent of all non-compliance problems – the message does not appeared to have filtered down to users.

In a keynote address at the UK and Ireland SAP User Group conference today, chairman Paul Cooper revealed that half of respondents weren't aware of the updated policies.

A further 29 per cent reported that they didn't understand the updated terms, while a separate question found that 73 per cent still felt SAP's licensing and pricing model was overly complicated.

And these concerns could be damaging the company's prospects of bringing customers over to its new Leonardo toolkit.

The platform, launched at SAP's main conference in May, promises to offer all manners of innovative tech to companies in one system – Internet of Things, machine learning, blockchain... the buzzword bingo goes on.

But if the survey results are anything to go by, interest is low: just 2 per cent of respondents said they were planning to use SAP Leonardo to support IoT and machine learning.

To rub salt into the wound, some 43 per cent said they weren't even aware of Leonardo, which the biz has been touting at every opportunity.

When asked whether indirect licensing concerns were delaying their plans to use IoT technology, 31 per cent said that it was somewhat, while 6 per cent said it was a lot. Just 10 per cent said it was not having an impact at all.

Complicating the licensing issue further is the fear that SAP will back-charge firms if they come forward to ask for clarification on their licences and are found to be wanting.

Although SAP has launched a "transparency centre", which aims to offer anonymous advice, take-up appears slow, and as both observers and the user group have pointed out, it can only provide generic answers to anonymised questions.

Cooper said there needed to be a focus on renewing the trust between the firm and users, or relationships "will break down".

He urged the firm to offer "clarity and even more clarity" on licensing, and added that it would, for example, be interesting to know what kinds of licence Diageo should have used and "if they were on the price list".

In a separate keynote, Hala Zeine, chief business development officer at SAP, said that the firm was focusing on offering its customers consistency, transparency and predictability on licensing.

However, the bulk of her talk was focused on the future of data management in a world driven by tech like blockchain and machine learning, including demos of its Data Hub and a new e-Quill product that offers conversational-style AI. ?


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