SAP has renewed its recent challenge to Salesforce and other cloud services companies by criticising the "verticality" of those firms' offerings, and insisting on-premise integration is required for a more complete and dynamic service.
This viewpoint came from SAP's senior vice president of HANA and Enterprise Cloud, Martin Heisig, who echoed CEO Bill McDermott's January 2014 comments that the company would be going after the likes of Salesforce and Workday with "everything we have".
Speaking to Computing at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona today, Heisig commented how 2013's launch of the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service, "creates benefits for companies, [because] what you see is that customers have a chance to justify their benefits from their investments".
But it's the integration with SAP's existing on-premise infrastructure offerings that Heisig believes makes all the difference.
"If you look at Salesforce.com, or Netsuite, or Workday, they go with very vertical solutions, and I think SAP has a big experience and broad knowledge in integrated functions and solutions, and bringing that now into the cloud is a key element," said Heisig.
"Because at the end of the day, it's nice to have an HR function in the cloud, but there's still a need to integrate with on-premise solutions, right? That makes it much easier."
But Heisig was quick to acknowledge that SAP has been "not really very brilliant in bringing it all together" in the past, and spoke of a "new mantra" for SAP as it moves into the future.
"In a nutshell, we have the breakthrough technology which is able to enable new businesses. People should not have to care about technology, even think about it. It should be second place, and we are ready to do this," Heisig told Computing.
"I think simplicity is super important to us; the new mantra for SAP," he said.
"It's about providing simple, beautiful and easy-to-use applications. Turnover times are getting tougher and shorter - six months or even shorter. Cloud is a nice way to do that, but you also need to turn around on your process times."
But again, Heisig was self-deprecating about SAP's progress in utilising its favoured marketing approach - word of mouth and reputation - in areas such as its "SAP Mentors" partner feedback programme.
"Are we there already? Not really. We still have to do some homework, but we've understood the message.
"Technology-wise we are ready. We've spent a hell of a lot of money on making HANA ready, and it's ready. We have the cloud platform, the mobile, and now we can focus on the simplicity. There's more to come this year from SAP, and you're going to be surprised."
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