If you work with me you have already heard this rant, so might as well just skip this blog post and go back to
work playing with your new tech toys.
SAP user’s of today are people that can remember a time when computers were the size of small city blocks and the idea of having one on your desk was laughable. Most of them are happy enough to have a computer on their desk to run Excel and mess with their own spreadsheets. These people today control the purse strings of IT spending and are “leading” the relationship with SAP. This is bad…. why? I’ll talk about that later.
If you have a child who is less then 30 years old and you work in an IT shop that runs SAP software, you should be scared. Talking from my personal experience ( I am 27 years old ) my family got their first computer when i was 6 or 7, I can just barely remember a time Before Computers, what this means to me and everyone in my age bracket is that we have used computers forever, our expectations are different. How different can be quickly mapped as you go down generations, the younger you start to use computers the higher your expectations are. I can’t stand when Ctrl-C doesn’t work or when I can’t turn on and off toolbars or when the screen is so full of information I don’t need all I can see is a box 200px by 150px. When this happens I go find another tool — this is why you should be scared.
Thomas Otter points out that at SAP they are good at process — it sounds almost like a core value,
“at SAP we think a lot about processes. I hear it all the time in the corridors and meeting rooms in Walldorf. It is one of the main reasons for SAPâ€™s success. It is goodness, and it is very tough to emulate… It is a significant competitive advantage.”
This is all quite true they do have that “special sauce” down to a ‘T’ however, it won’t help when folks in my generation start to take control of the purse strings.
If someone gives me a piece of software I “must use” and it is horrible, the first thing I do before using it is to see if there is another tool I can quickly use the way I want and then just plug the numbers into the horrible tool. This is a huge problem for SAP as that all the wonder process focus Thomas talks about goes out the window when people don’t use the tool in the manner it was designed. I would argue that for the next generation of people who will soon ( < 10 years ) start to get into decision making positions at Fortune 1000s UI ease and flexibility will be nearly as important as all the process stuff already boiled into SAP software.
As campy as Time’s person of the year was, it was about a change of focus on the internet. From just a push of information and goods out, to a true conversation. People creating content to be consumed by others, the internet as just another conduit for people to carry out conversations. This change of focus needs to be felt in the Enterprise too and I am concerned we might not be able to move fast enough.
 “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” — Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977 ( Snopes )