back to article SAP cofounder admits: Biz goofed on branding, confused customers, depressed staff

SAP’s cofounder has admitted that its branding strategy confused customers and prevented staff from feeling like part of a team. Opening the second day of the German ERP giant’s annual conference, Sapphire Now, in Florida, USA, Hasso Plattner discussed the evolving focus of SAP – while emphasising a coherent internal brand …

  1. JohnFen Silver badge

    Good looking?

    "having a brand name which is at least as good looking as S/4HANA… it helps"

    They think S/4HANA is good looking?? I think it's ugly and clumsy.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Good looking?

      They think S/4HANA is good looking?? I think it's ugly and clumsy.

      I don't know, perhaps they're trying to improve their image by making people confuse it with Shana (Flame Haired Blazing Eyed Hunter). Or perhaps they'll hope to chop down their competition like a Crimson Denizen. And she was pretty cute too (although potentially a little young for me, depending on how you count).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Good looking?

        Shirley you mean Shanna the She-Devil? Maybe I'm in a different demographic ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good looking?

        @elabarre59; "making people confuse it with Shana (Flame Haired Blazing Eyed Hunter)"

        Side issue, but I've noticed that manga and anime seem to push that supposed "big eyes = cute" thing to breaking point- and often past it. Because manga is such a common style nowadays, one often registers it as a cliche ("oh this one has huge eyes, so she's supposed to be cute") rather than noticing how anatomically weird they are (i.e. the eyes are half the height of the face and finish *below* the nose).

        However, on occasion they do end up looking borderline insectoid- more like fly's eyes.

        And this is just horrifying.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Good looking?

          I've noticed that manga and anime seem to push that supposed "big eyes = cute" thing

          A fetishization of exaggerated neoteny, boosted a bit by the fetishization of the double epicanthic fold. (Though the latter is partly due to the former anyway, and partly to European/US cultural influences during the colonial period and in Japan's case the Meiji restoration.)

          There's good reason to suspect that neoteny fetishization is partly instinctual - it encourages the extended care human children require - but I don't like to put too much weight on sociolinguistic explanations.

          to breaking point- and often past it. Because manga is such a common style nowadays, one often registers it as a cliche ("oh this one has huge eyes, so she's supposed to be cute") rather than noticing how anatomically weird they are (i.e. the eyes are half the height of the face and finish *below* the nose).

          It's a fetish pump.1 There's a portion of the market that wants the fetish enough to demand it; then there's a large portion that ignores it. So on the whole it's economically advantageous to producers to include and increase it, until they hit a breaking point where exaggeration actually discourages a portion of the market that's larger than the enthusiasts. We don't seem to have hit that point for many manga/anime genres.

          Note that there are "serious" manga/anime genres which prefer more realistic face and body designs. They tend to be more niche than mass-market, though.

          1In the sense of the economic behavior, not the pornographic style from which it takes its name. (The pun on "pump" is rather felicitous.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good looking?

      SAP piggy-backed off IBM in the 1979s-1980s, and learned how to do "enterprise sales" the "right way" (bribe, extinguish). Expect bad service-quality from any hospital, public-administration that run on SAP, their employees have serious troubles inputting your data.

      SAP is just a database with electronic forms, think 1980s terminal/DOS screens where women have to input text all day long. Nothing has changed in SAP-Land. Their GUI is still text based, with text based tables from the DOS-era. Their ERP system is "SAP R/3" which got renamed dozens of times but is still assembly and COBOL based (they call their COBOL version "ABAP"). Their rewrite adventures were all failures, they tried to rewrite it in Java between 2000 and 2010 and now in HTML&JS. All "business logic" (aka all eletronic forms) are still in COBOL and Assembly, with parts in C and acquired applications in Java.

      And their "HANA" SaaS is just 1990s database software "MaxDB" (which used to be open source in 2000s, until their lawyer traced down all repositories and pulled the plug) with SSD and in-memory database engines. Just the same tech that other databases offer, like MySQL, Oracle and MSSQL, Apache(Lucene/Elastic/Solr/Hadoop/Spark). HANA is just one of these SQL databases with NoSQL capabilities.

      Anyway, SAP is like M$, bad and evil. If your manager wants it all of the sudden, you can bet that your CEO and your IT manager got a nice golf vacation and a sport SUV. And your company will stagnate while paying hundred million $$$, and you have to customize the shit out of crufty procedural COBOL code. Run, as long as your career isn't "tainted".

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: Good looking?

        The thing that makes me laugh the most is, after inflicting the monster of ABAP on the poor fuckers, they then plump for Java.

      2. Korev Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Good looking?

        Expect bad service-quality from any hospital, public-administration that run on SAP, their employees have serious troubles inputting your data.

        I recently had problems after buying something from a company, their system had got confused about currencies, forgot about exchange rates somewhere and had taken too little money from my credit card. The company chased me for the remainder and I was less than pleased about their cockup. The very helpful support man told me that since they'd migrated to SAP two years ago they'd had loads of problems like the one I had...

      3. Torchy

        Re: Good looking?

        Almost killed off my company eleven years ago.

        Still got it but it is very unwieldy.

        Works great with whole numbers but when you try to add decimal points...............

        it throws the toys out of the server room.

      4. Zemus

        Re: Good looking?

        Looks like HANA was stolen from Teradata. Hasso claims its based on Hyrise but the evidence looks pretty damning.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In their own words

    if the firm “can get rid of perception that SAP is only good at the back office… we have achieved a lot

    I work in an industry that is dominated by big SAP systems. I've worked for a number of employers who've used the system, and been responsible for monitoring the competitor performance, often through their SAP adoption or upgrade cycles. And I'd agree. SAP aren't only good at back office. They're good at NOTHING.

    Every flavour of SAP is a horrible, complicated bastard system, one that inevitably is associated with immense costs to change, and still often causes huge problems when any change is implemented. Only today I was looking at data that showed that a huge system upgrade affecting thousands of customers was in trouble because of hundreds of system problems. Not specification problems, not staff adoption issues, just because the shitbag system doesn't do what was required. Of course, the involvement of Accunture would not have helped, but the point remains, if you need specialist external help to build or modify your CRM or ERP, you're using the wrong system.

    SAP. Isn't that the German abbreviation for Bunch Of Useless Turds?

  3. Munkstar

    ******* ****

    I use as I have to, comes with the job, ugly, user unfriendly with a mind of its own. I assume it pleases somebody in high office.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ******* ****

      "I use as I have to, comes with the job, ugly, user unfriendly with a mind of its own. I assume it pleases somebody in high office."

      High office managers don't use SAP at all. They ask you to do the "report" and send them an email or ask you for a "KPI dashboard". You will save the data as plain text, with text based tables (not even CSV) and parse it with an excel macro and create a Excel diagram. Everyday. The manager got a nice "gift", an exclusive club-membership, a car, so he is in favor of SAP, or is a middle manager and doesn't care and just wants to please his own boss to get his seat in future.

  4. JassMan Silver badge

    Don't know if SAP has changed recently.

    But I used to work for a well known broadcaster who had been sold a useless heap of turd by some persuasive SAP marketing team. The most frustrating bit was not the names of the packages, but the fact that the programmers hadn't discovered resource files for internationalisation. A year after the system went live there were still 30% of field names and warning dialogs in German and we had to have handwritten scripts of what info to put in which (German named) field. Even after 18months the odd message would still pop up in Deutsche. Every change to rectify this involved a re-install and I can't think of how many hours we lost while waiting for bodged upgrades to be rolled back and told we could not charge our time to the rollout project.

    For some strange reason it also appeared not to be written in any standard dev package. Either that or they hadn't worked out how to reuse graphic primitives and standard windows controls. Visually it was the kind of program a 10year old school kid would have come up with as their first program after "Hello World". It certainly didn't have any kind of intuitive user interface.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't know if SAP has changed recently.

      SAP is a Kraut-system. "Deutsche Grundlichkeit" which means "German efficiency".

      Many parts of SAP are in German, incl. the modul-names. You better speak German to code their procedural ABAP dialect, a forgotten language from the IBM punchcard era. SAP just recently converted their codebase to Unicode. One day you may have to refactor the SAP installation of your company from ASCII database to Unicode-enabled database. Refactoring all ABAP code for unicode support. (Mind you, Unicode is from 1989, and Windows 3.11 and WinNT 3.1 all had Unicode support in 1994 already, not so SAP.) Yes, the language strings are hard coded in the code.

      1. Rob 54

        Re: Don't know if SAP has changed recently.

        What product / version of SAP which only recently got updated to unicode?

        Sounds awfully ancient as from my experience SAP products have been unicode from early 2000's and for several years SAP have not offered new installations to be non-unicode

        I do feel sorry for their support bods having to support so many different mixes of technology, but the theory of this product alignment is to stop all that (in practice this will take several years and things will change along the way)

        There is still a long way to go, especially to align the different technology stacks without complex middleware integrations

  5. jake Silver badge

    I've heard from more than one person ...

    ... that they thought the company was run by a bunch of saps, based on the name alone. And said persons were dead serious, they won't have anything to do with SAP.

    A rose, by any other name ...

  6. I'm Dugly

    SAP excels at one thing

    The company, and its consulting partners such as Accenture & IBM, excel at selling to the C-suite.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And i just thought all the name/brand confusion

    was just a way of preventing effective management of licences by customers so they could be screwed just a bit more...

  8. Ben1892
    Facepalm

    Yup, confused customers, that's it! What we need is a re-brand ... seriously?

  9. sqlartist

    How do you pronounce C/4HANA ?

    Is it C Slash 4 HANA?

    Is it C Four HANA?

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      I'd go with "Kahana" or maybe "Klahana" depending on how miserable I was feeling at the time. There is a nice assonance to the former, at least.

    2. Rob 54

      Haha, I've no idea.

      It makes me chuckle that google responses with 'Did you mean S/4 HANA'?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's C Four HANA.

      But HANA pronunciation varies by nation. Brits and Germans say it like the girls name. Americans say it with longer vowels like hahna/harner, a bit like how they say pasta.

  10. ortunk

    Doggy internet connection in a demo?

    What kind of a biggest event is that.

    Ah well dodgy company and dodgy connection, follows I suppose...

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