Brit SAP user group seeking more line-of-business members

Newly minted chairman speaks of 'changes' to the IT dept's role

The new chairman of the UK and Ireland's SAP User Group (UKISUG) is looking to boost its number of line-of-business users, in response to "changes" in the IT department's role in organisations.

Paul Cooper, who has taken on the role after being vice-chairman since 2013, told The Register that the group, which has around 5,000 members from 500 organisations, wants to widen its base.

"One theme for the next couple of years will be around driving our line-of-business membership," Cooper said.

"What we're seeing is, as the cloud becomes more important to people, as well as Software-as-a-Service, the IT department's role is changing, while the business user is becoming more important.

"They can go and put a [project] together and roll it out almost without the IT department's involvement, so for us it's important that we start to attract the people using those solutions, to help them share their knowledge and learning."

Cooper didn't specify the number of line-of-business users currently in the group, but said that the work would tie in with a merger of UKISUG and the UK user group for SuccessFactors, set to be SAP's main Human Capital Management platform. SuccessFactors will be a Special Interest Group in the wider SAP group.

Asked what issues the user community were most concerned about at the moment, Cooper said licensing was a topic of continued discussion.

At SAP's conference Sapphire earlier this year, CEO Bill McDermott announced a change to indirect policy, setting out "modern pricing for modern times".

McDermott said that the aim was to simplify pricing, so procure-to-pay and order-to-cash scenarios will be based on orders. SAP would not charge for static read access in third-party systems, he said.

Cooper said that the UK and Ireland user group, in combination with 20 others, was working on the issue of licensing, and praised the fact that SAP was making efforts to hold an "open dialogue".

The issue of licensing has been the subject of two major court cases between SAP and drinks companies in recent months – first Diageo and then Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Earlier this year, AB InBev revealed that SAP was suing for damages worth in excess of $600m, based on allegations that employees has used SAP systems and data without appropriate licences.

AB InBev said it planned to "defend against SAP's asserted claims vigorously".

Meanwhile, Cooper said that Brexit was likely to dominate his chairmanship, as well as discussions about SAP's Internet of Things and machine learning toolkit, Leonardo, and users shifting to SAP S/4HANA.

"A couple of years ago, not all users were talking about S/4HANA; it was if not when," Cooper said.

"Now, a greater percentage of the membership are talking about when they're doing it, and how they're doing work on it in their roadmap."

He said that the UKISUG plans to discuss these issues at its conference in November. ®

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