The new year brings new perspectives, and with that, I’m proud to announce the results from the ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer 2020 study. We canvassed our members in North America to gather SAP market research so we can gauge the attitudes, preferences, and plans of these SAP customers as they relate to current and future SAP technology decisions.

I love the “pulse” moniker, because what we do is take the vital signs of a wide assortment of SAP customers. This year, the topics include: SAP S/4HANA adoption, the evolving roles of technology teams, which SAP products customers are investigating or investing in, and their organizations’ relationships with innovation. We compare data year over year, where appropriate, to track key areas of difference.

The results, however, are more than just a handful of data points: This market research informs how ASUG plans to serve our customers and help them get the most value from their investment in SAP technology. We use what we learn to drive planning around education, in-person and virtual events, on-demand digital resources, and our ongoing advocacy for members.

In short, the collective SAP customer voice illuminates where information, knowledge, and advocacy are needed most. So, let’s have a look at three results from this year’s study.

1. The Pulse on SAP S/4HANA Adoption

This is probably one of the questions I receive most often: What’s happening with ASUG members on SAP S/4HANA adoption?

Well, this year’s results show that SAP S/4HANA transitions are moving forward. All responding organizations have either already started or are planning to start future SAP S/4HANA implementation projects. What’s most interesting to me is that 0% of respondents indicated that they had no plans this year, versus 12% in 2019 who said they weren’t moving to SAP S/4HANA. Keep in mind, that data doesn’t mean they all will decide down the road to adopt SAP S/4HANA—just that, at this point in time, they are actively making assessments for their next ERP moves and that they have not ruled SAP S/4HANA out entirely.

As I’ve said for several years, ASUG believes that if you’re an SAP customer who wants to grow and accelerate your business, remove inefficiencies, reduce technical debt, and take advantage of the latest capabilities of SAP software for your business, then you need to move to SAP S/4HANA—as far in advance of the 2025 deadline as possible.

According to the 2020 study, respondents recognize the value and efficiencies in migrating to SAP S/4HANA before the 2025 retirement date. Enhanced functionalities and quick wins—such as data analytics and more expansive tools with new capabilities—are also what the respondents told us are compelling reasons to move to SAP S/4HANA.

2. The Pulse on Investments in SAP Technology

No two companies follow the same IT purchasing strategy. Many prefer a “one-throat-to-choke” philosophy with as few vendors as possible in the portfolio, while others adhere to a “best-of-breed” mantra for buying enterprise software and technologies.

Most respondents to the 2020 survey are maintaining or increasing their investments in SAP, with SAP S/4HANA specifically continuing to build interest among nearly 60% who are new to it.

Breaking down the numbers a little bit more finds that 59% are making more investments in SAP (versus 53% in 2019), 33% are keeping the same (versus 39% in 2019), an only 8% are making fewer investments in SAP, a percentage that dropped 1% from last year.

3. The Pulse on Approaches to Innovation

Just like beauty, innovation is in the eye of the beholder: What’s game-changing tech to one small or medium enterprise in the electronics manufacturing industry can be table stakes to a Fortune 500 global energy behemoth.

This year’s survey revealed that no matter your organization or industry, your employees are more likely to be spending time executing rather than innovating: Respondents say their organizations are spending more than twice as much time executing on current strategies than on planning for the future.

How are ASUG members going to overcome this innovation inertia? Organizations say they plan to focus their innovation efforts on adding new technologies or systems, overhauling outdated business processes, and unveiling new products or services.

I’m eager to hear what you think of the results, so please email me your thoughts.

Download our infographic with an overview of the study results. Special note to ASUG members: Be sure to register to listen live (or check it out on demand) to the Feb. 11 webcast when I will join ASUG VP of Content Strategy and Research Ann Marie Gray to dive deeper into the results. 

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