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19 May 3 Predictions for SAP in 2016

(By Mike Raftery)

Well, what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t make totally baseless projections from time to time?  I always find the SAP conference season (spring) a nice benchmark for the year.  You see old friends, compare notes, and realize you’re a year older, but more importantly, it’s a time to think about the year ahead.  We’re planners right?  So let’s focus on the future.  The following prognostications for SAP in 2016 are purely speculative, so no gambling please.  Also, since it’s a blog, please don’t go back in a year and compare notes.  Deal?  Deal.  Ok, let’s move on.

1. IBP Comes Into Its Own

There was definitely a change in tone this year. Last year, there was a definite theme of skepticism in the SAP community.  There was this new application, but nobody seemed to know exactly what to do with it or what it was.  That tone has changed, and changed for good.  There’s a confidence and a curiosity that is distinctly different.  The people I talked to were more informed, they are more confident, and the questions started with “How?” instead of “Why?”

The realization is not just that IBP is here, but also that it’s not black and white.  It’s not IBP or APO, the question is: how does IBP and APO work together?  What does a transition look like, and more importantly, how can we do it?  It might seem subtle, but it’s a big deal.  People want to see it, and they’re craving proof that it works. (See proof here: IBP in 30 minutes.)

Next year, I think we will see a change in tone again.  I think people will try to put a toe in the water sooner than later.  Business cases will get written, capital will be allocated and plans will be made.  Not everyone will be getting into the pool, but everyone will start changing into their bathing suits.

2. IT and Business Become One

New technology unlocks new opportunities.  By the time conference season 2016 comes around, I’m predicting that we’ll see just how much the new world of IBP can unlock new possibilities.  Now processes are defined by the business, not the technology.  In a world where batch jobs no longer exist, data cubes aren’t loaded, and information is always available in real time, it’s time to rethink how business is really run.  The process can define the process.

This is new to a whole generation of business users.  What does a process that is free from the constraints of technological limitations even look like?  Most of the supply chain in this generation doesn’t even know what that feels like.  It’s ok to feel a bit lost.  Without restrictions, and more importantly, without limitations, the business can run as they see fit.

The coming year will require a different way of thinking, and a different type of talent.   IT needs to understand what a business process looks like, and business needs to get used to not hearing “no” all the time.  Those that succeed will get creative, and build new processes, not recreate old ones.  This creativity is rare, and partnerships will be required, to the point where there is just one team.

3. Musical Guest will be…

Two years ago at Sapphire it was Bon Jovi, this year it was J-Lo.  That means that next year, the pendulum swings back to classic rock.  Tom Petty?  Journey, Zeppelin?  My bet is Aerosmith.  Steven Tyler will be desperate enough and it follows the theme of American Idol cast members.  So there ya go.  Predictions?

As a final note, enjoy Memorial Day next week.  Everyone has those that have sacrificed amongst their families and friends.  We get an extra day off, so please take one minute of that day to thank the military, police, fireman, coast guard or crossing guard in your family.  It takes a lot of effort to build a community, so thank those that have built yours.