As ASUG prepares to unveil the full results of its signature 2024 Pulse of the SAP Customer research survey, insights already abound as to the attitudes, preferences, and plans of ASUG members as they relate to their current and future investments in SAP technology.

SAP customers continue to prepare their organizations for future transformation, and a sense of urgency is taking hold with regard to cloud migration initiatives. Shifting from on-premises ERP environments to the cloud, and embracing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), will prove complex and time-consuming for many intelligent enterprises.

And with SAP committed to providing mainstream maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7, which includes SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 6, through the end of 2027, ASUG members are progressing toward adoption of its successor, SAP S/4HANA, in increasing numbers. ASUG members are also sharpening their focus on integration challenges, seeking to maximize their budgets, and turning their attention to upskilling their workforces.

Here are our top takeaways from the 2024 ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer Research, to be unveiled in full at a future date:

It's the year 20S/4.

2024 signifies a tipping point in ASUG members’ implementation of SAP S/4HANA. First launched in 2015, almost a decade ago, the ERP software—intended to cover all core capabilities and day-to-day processes of an intelligent enterprise—is now embraced by more SAP users than ever before.

47% of surveyed ASUG members are either already using SAP S/4HANA or currently starting the implementation process, according to ASUG’s Pulse of the SAP Customer research findings. Within two years, 69% of survey respondents expect to have implemented SAP S/4HANA.

SAP S/4HANA is the top focus area for ASUG members this year, with 48% of those surveyed calling it “most important” to their organizations in 2024 (compared to 42% in 2023). In addition, members report that the top skill set missing or lacking at their organizations is SAP S/4HANA expertise. As the 2027 deadline for end of mainstream maintenance nears, demand for implementation and migration resources will likely surge; 41% of surveyed ASUG members say they still plan to implement SAP S/4HANA, pointing to the in-progress nature of these initiatives for many in the SAP user community.

This identified focus on SAP S/4HANA aligns with what ASUG members report of their readiness to increase SAP spending. 52% of surveyed ASUG members reported making more investments in SAP as a part of their technology stack in 2024 (as opposed to 46% in 2023), with SAP S/4HANA cited as the leading reason for members to expand their existing SAP investments. Other reasons for increased SAP investments, as reported by survey respondents, included business growth, increased functionality, and integrating and consolidating more systems into SAP.

According to one SAP customer and ASUG survey respondent, additional investments are being made in consulting, software/services acquisition, migration, integration, and education as their company pursues SAP S/4HANA migration. Another noted that their company’s expanded global use of SAP is creating opportunities to upgrade its U.S. market to S/4HANA.

Cloud growth continues to rise.

ASUG members increasingly see themselves in the cloud, but addressing costs and security concerns remains essential.

57% of surveyed ASUG members view migrating to the cloud as having a significant impact on their organizations’ overarching digital transformation efforts, secondary only to data analytics/dashboards (62%).

ASUG members are starting to shift away from on-premises ERP environments in increasing numbers, consistent with the movement of overall SAP instances outside of SAP S/4HANA. Still, SAP S/4HANA migration is a principal driver for members moving to the cloud. In 2024, the majority of ASUG’s Pulse of the SAP Customer survey respondents (62%) run or will run SAP S/4HANA in the cloud—more specifically in a private cloud (40%), managed cloud (16%), and public cloud (6%). 

2024 SAP S/4HANA Cloud Environments

2024 SAP S/4HANA Cloud Environments

2024 SAP S/4HANA Cloud Environments. Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) conducted its annual Pulse of the SAP Customer study in October/November 2023. The results are based on responses from 766 participants who are members of ASUG, the world’s largest independent SAP user group.

Multiple cloud solutions are on the radar for SAP customers’ future use—and with SAP focusing on delivering innovations specifically to its cloud customers, adoption of its cloud solutions is expected to increase. Across the board, more ASUG survey respondents are considering future use of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, RISE with SAP, SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, and SAP Business Technology Platform, compared to 2023.

Among surveyed ASUG members currently running on-premises SAP instances, costs or resources, security, and compliance were noted as the top hurdles preventing them from migrating to the cloud. Addressing these concerns would move the needle for these customers in terms of accelerating their embrace of cloud ERP. Some ASUG survey respondents in on-premises environments signaled that they are currently migrating or planning to migrate to the cloud.

It's business as usual, in a post-pandemic world.

Pandemic-induced business disruptions are no longer top of mind for ASUG members, and organizations are moving forward with their technology initiatives, with budget, integration, and master data maintenance cited as leading challenges organizations face this year.

Maintaining knowledgeable staff/turnover and supply chain issues (two challenges exacerbated by the pandemic) decreased by 8% and 11% respectively in 2024, according to surveyed ASUG members. Though maintaining knowledgeable staff/turnover is still a notable challenge for organizations, it is no longer the leading challenge.

This year, surveyed ASUG members reported that budget issues are the top challenge for organizations, and further indicated that cost reduction, revenue generation, and increasing process efficiencies are all ways in which they are moving to address this challenge. “We are growing as an organization both organically and through acquisitions,” one respondent stated. “We need to spend money on technology to support the growth."

Pre-pandemic reality is re-emerging, and with it so are integration challenges related to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), according to ASUG survey respondents. As interest rates rose across the last two years, companies regained some of their traditional leverage in M&A deals, compared with the period of low interest rates seen during the pandemic that favored financial buyers. With integration a top focus area for organizations in 2024, as well as a leading challenge, an increase in M&As is likely to complexify integration initiatives in the coming year.

It is prime time for the great reskilling.

Workforce needs continue to shift. While surveyed ASUG members still cite maintaining knowledgeable staff/turnover as a top challenge, it has dropped from 37% in 2023 to 29% in 2024. ASUG members increasingly are turning their attention to upskilling and reorganization, so that they are better equipped to implement new technologies.

29% of surveyed ASUG members plan to implement new technology this year, and almost as many (27%) reported that they are struggling to keep up with the pace of change related to technology. Further highlighting the need to focus on talent alignment, 28% of organizations struggle to find the right internal candidates with the skills to manage new projects.

ASUG members are also articulating the need for more training to tackle this challenge. Skills and training continue to be a priority at organizations, and candidates with SAP S/4HANA skills are most in demand, followed by AI, optimizing emerging technologies, and business process management.

Pulse of the SAP Customer

Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) conducted its annual Pulse of the SAP Customer study in October/November 2023. The results are based on responses from 766 participants who are members of ASUG, the world’s largest independent SAP user group.

ASUG Members’ Insights on AI

Examining ASUG survey respondents’ attitudes toward artificial intelligence suggests that many technology professionals believe AI will help their organizations overcome pressing business issues. Asked what challenges they’d ideally want to solve with AI, 45% of survey respondents selected “dashboards and analytics,” while 22% selected “customer experience.”

Transitioning from manual to digital processes and integration between SAP and non-SAP systems, meanwhile, each registered with 21% of survey respondents as a potential challenge for AI to support. Concerns over data continue to hold back organizations, with only 13% of surveyed ASUG members stating that they’re currently willing to load data into a generative AI model.

SAP customers’ choices for the top technologies impacting digital transformation efforts are data analytics/dashboards (62%), cloud (57%), and automation (43%), consistent with those reported in 2023, in both share and ranking. This year, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) surged as one of these technologies, with 38% of surveyed ASUG members selecting these technologies as impactful for their digital transformation initiatives (as opposed to 23% in 2023).

More to come!

ASUG will continue to share more 2024 ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer research throughout this year on ASUG digital channels and in-person at ASUG experiences. Join ASUG on LinkedIn; we would love to hear your thoughts on this year’s results.

Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) conducted its annual Pulse of the SAP Customer study in October/November 2023. The results are based on responses from 766 participants who are members of ASUG, the world’s largest independent SAP user group.

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