Welcome back to Nerd Exchange, a new ASUG column from Jelena Perfiljeva and Paul Modderman, The Boring Enterprise Nerds. Helping subscribers stay on top of SAP, AI, Cloud, and enterprise software news through their hit Boring Enterprise Nerdletter, Jelena and Paul are funny, cynical, and always interesting—a breath of fresh air for the enterprise software landscape. Below, the Boring Enterprise Nerds offer their reflections on this past year and a few predictions for 2024.

Paul Modderman: As celebrity writers, I think we're required by law to do an annual wrap-up and predictions piece. Jelena, the baton passes to you first! Give us a reflection on the past year.

Jelena Perfiljeva: SAP TechEd, in its pre-COVID form, is pretty much gone. I'm giving up the dream of getting back that “Vegas experience” of big crowds, with its sense of community and celebration.

Paul: I have a general observation about events as well. Over the last year, I lost my ability to keep up with news and announcements that popped up in tech events. I’ve been overwhelmed. It's an avalanche! How does anyone keep up? I'm drowning in my Twitter, Feedly, and newsletter feeds.

Jelena: Several people I met at ASUG Tech Connect said their companies are forming competency centers around continuous learning. There are people whose full-time jobs are to manage that avalanche and make sure employees are well-fed with information about the new skills they'll need to succeed. And as companies add more solutions into their landscapes, that challenge of keeping up will continue to grow.

Paul: That's related to one of my predictions for the new year. My magic scrolls say that companies will continue to diversify their enterprise application portfolios. By itself, that's not a very interesting forecast. The interesting part, in my view, is that one of the ways they'll do that is by slicing up their monoliths. Part of that will come from peeling off individual applications that were once under the same umbrella, but another part of it is that enterprises are willing to adopt new solutions outside of their monoliths. The fact that SAP Cloud Integration is the most-used component of SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is evidence. Everyone's OK with gluing more things together.

Jelena: Last year, I predicted we'd see more unconventional, "create-your-own" roles emerge. I hereby claim the title of “Vice President of Foresight,” because I was spot on. It's interesting, too, because not all of these “Chief of Something or Other” roles are actually on the same level as the rest of their organization’s C-suites. Which is just fine, because companies need more leaders, not more executives.

Paul: I would argue with you, except that my real-life title at my current company is “Chief Nerd.” So I'll just slide past that to my next reflection: SAP S/4HANA. This past year proved how much of a priority it is for some companies to make their move and how low down on the list that ERP transition is for others. ASUG’s last Pulse of the SAP Customer survey, published early in 2023, found that 35% of respondents were either 2+ years out from executing or "on hold" with their S/4HANA migration plans. SAP professionals are going to have their hands full either executing upgrades or supporting out-of-date installations for years to come. What strikes me about all of this is that those findings are not appraising the quality of S/4HANA. This is a statement on the quality of SAP ERP Central Component (ECC)! That so many customers are getting what they need is a true testament to ECC's strengths. (SAP, please make out the endorsement check to "Chief Nerd Paul Modderman.")

Jelena: Paul, you'd think that an AI nerd like you would be the first to broach the topic, but it looks like I've beaten you. Here's my two-pronged AI prediction for 2024: SAP will double down on AI messaging (which might seem impossible, given its current level of hype), and AI will start to reach The Plateau of Disappointment. The hype has just gone too high, and the expectations are unrealistic.

Paul: I talk about this stuff so much that I've started to hype myself into orbit. I was having a hard time pinning down a reflection or prediction about AI, and then I realized that my difficulty in selecting a take was itself the take. So: my reflection is that you can't make a list of 2023 reflections without saying something about generative AI. My prediction is that you won't be able to make a 2024 list of predictions without saying something about generative AI. It's table stakes for every tech discussion from here on out.

Jelena: I'll wrap with neither a prediction nor a reflection. It's a Santa wish list with but one item: that SAP would stop renaming things.

Paul: That's crazy. That's like wishing for more wishes.

For more Nerd Exchange, check out Jelena and Paul's first column, previewing ASUG Tech Connectand subscribe to both ASUG First Five and the Boring Enterprise Nerdletter.

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