IBP, A Year Later and a Look Forward

(By Mike Raftery)

It was one year ago at SCM Insider that SAP really dropped the bomb on the APO community when they set the expiration date on the APO solution and pointed everyone to Integrated Business Planning (IBP) as the future.  That set off a mild panic within the community as we all tried to figure out the repercussions of this declaration, which has changed the direction of the planning space, and IT organizations throughout the SAP community.  It’s been a crazy year and SCM Connections will keep you posted throughout the week to the latest and greatest breaking news as we enjoy the SCM Insider conference in Vegas.

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I’ve noticed a big shift in the past year all around the SAP Supply Chain planning community.  First there was denial, then fear, skepticism, and finally where we are now: acceptance.  There seems to be an alignment that this is coming, and it’s going to be better than today.  There’s also a consensus that this won’t be easy.  It won’t be easy for the customers to absorb such a change, and it won’t be easy for the SAP community to adapt to a huge shift in technology.  But it will happen and we’ll all get there together.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: HANA in the Cloud.  I hear those words in my sleep now, and they’re not going away.  This is also a huge shift in the technological landscape that probably has the longest road to go.  It’s hard for the general community to digest moving their business to the cloud when it seems like, daily, we hear news of security breaches and stolen data.  Whether these concerns are valid or not is beside the point.  It’s hard to reconcile the publicity with the reality and this is a huge hurdle to overcome not just for SAP, but for all companies that want to move their software into a cloud environment.  Confidence takes a long time to build, and this one will be a “show me” before we see broad adoption.

What’s to come next?  Well hopefully some nuts and bolts details from SAP.  I think the IBP concept is much more widely understood and accepted than it was a year ago.  But every single person I talk to wants to know, “How much?”  “What does this really look like?”  It’s hard to provide answers, either actuals or anecdotal evidence.  For these IBP projects to really take off, there needs to be broader understanding on the cost of this project for companies to really evaluate the ROI equation on this endeavor.  Projects this big will have a long runway to line up capital, resources and support, so the more that can help the estimation process, the faster this process will happen.

Stay tuned this week for hopefully more news and updates around IBP and APO from your friends at SCM Connections.  Personally, I’m hoping for some updates on timing and scope around all the IBP modules to come so we can see the product as it’s intended to be: in its entirety.   A lot’s happened in the past 12 months; it’s hard to imagine what we’ll be talking and complaining about a year from now.

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