This was our fifth year participating at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference, the largest global business technology event, and being part of the daily conversations in terms of addressing the current challenges and future opportunities for SAP users. SAPPHIRE NOW always provides us with a unique environment to connect with the global community of professionals who use SAP software every day―face to face―to discuss not only how they can get more from their technology investments, but also how to apply solutions to help them survive in today’s digital business age.
Interest in FICO and other types of SAP reporting in Excel has been steadily increasing since our first appearance at SAPPHIRE NOW, and 2016 proved to be very similar to past years. SAP users are still having issues with accessing real-time data, too many manual processes involved with building their reports, and the inability to drill down for deeper analysis. Additionally, other topics of discussion included reporting against SAP HANA, better budget planning options, and dashboard visualization, as well as a major need for enabling user self-service capabilities.
From large international corporations to small-and-mid-sized companies to public sector organizations, our booth saw more than twice as many visitors as last year, seeking us out to discuss Excel-based solutions for problems that continue to cause them headaches. For example, we heard from numerous attendees that Controlling-Profitability Analysis (CO-PA) reporting continues to be difficult for users based on these two factors: 1) Volume of data; and 2) Reconciliations back to the finance ledger.
The Big Picture
The bigger picture issues and buzz-worthy topics that most people at SAPPHIRE NOW were talking about this year included:
- SAP S/4HANA Migration. In contrast to last year, it appears that every customer is now aware of the need to start planning, or is in the process of planning, their move to S/4. They’re more knowledgeable of what it will take and more accepting of their “fate” in terms of having to move in the next few years. Many―more than last year―are close to nailing down their upgrade plans, including (surprisingly) smaller companies. Very, very few have stood up an S/4 system and we didn’t hear of any customers that have actually completed an upgrade from SAP ECC 6.0 to S/4. But by next year, we believe that will have changed.
- SAP Fiori User Experience. Fiori is getting lots of hype by SAP as the new sexy interface. Although a lot of progress has been made in a year, SAP is still in the process of rebuilding its input and reporting transactions. Currently, only 100 or so Fiori apps for finance/controlling have been completed.
- Roambi Mobile Analytics. Roambibusiness apps are engineered to give users mobile analytics, reporting, and business intelligence on iPhones or iPads anywhere. Understandably, this recent mobile acquisition SAP has made, with a very pretty phone and tablet interface, was getting lots of demo time on the floor. At this time, it really only appears to be just “eye candy.” However, our feeling is that by next year, SAP will add noise about mobile leveraging Roambi.
In the coming months, we look forward to introducing SAP users to and educating them on how GL Wand, Reports Wand, and Planning Wand can drastically improve their forecasting, planning and reporting in Excel―never-ending needs that were on so many attendees’ minds this year. And, we look forward to SAPPHIRE NOW 2017, where we’ll be excited to be part of the dynamic discussions for SAP solutions once again.
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