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Protocol | Enterprise

SAP unveiled a big sales promo. It's a bid to juice cloud customer numbers.

The move is the culmination of CEO Christian Klein's efforts to turn around the German software giant.

SAP data center

SAP unveiled "RISE with SAP" on Wednesday.

Image: SAP

SAP CEO Christian Klein is trying out a major sales gambit in his attempt to get more customers onboard the software giant's signature cloud platform.

A new offer unveiled on Wednesday called "RISE with SAP" bundles together several products, including the flagship S/4 HANA platform, under one contract with a flat cost, a promotion that the company is hoping will encourage more users to more quickly switch from the on-premise services that dominated the company's product line until the last few years.

The offering, and the promotional blitz behind it, are a culmination of sorts of Klein's work over the past several months to remake SAP. While it signals progress in his vision to become a core tech provider — one that links data from all a company's operations on a single — it's also a big gambit, particularly if Klein can't address key concerns from customers, many of whom might be looking to shrink their IT spend on SAP's products.

To incentivize the pivot, SAP is promising a "highly automated" migration with "near-zero downtimes," effectively a move to try to standardize an often arduous and costly transformation that may have prevented new and existing customers from pursuing such an upgrade. And in a nod to the open partner ecosystem Klein is pushing, those who take advantage can use SAP's cloud, one of several of the major providers (Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud or Alibaba Cloud) or a private network.

Embedded in the packaged system are also numerous "business process intelligence" tools, such as robotic process automation, that help organizations, among other applications, pinpoint tasks that can be done solely by machines. SAP purchased Signavio, a provider of software that helps businesses manage workflows, to help further amplify these offerings, per a Wednesday announcement.

"We are bundling everything companies need to holistically transform their business, with a fast time to value regardless of their starting point," Klein told reporters.

Since COVID-19 hit, investments in the type of technology that SAP offers, the bulk of which center around the core enterprise resource planning system, fell in priority for many enterprises. Existing customers are also putting off upgrading, instead choosing to elongate use of their current platforms, many of which run via on-site data centers. The convergence of both led Klein to issue a stark warning in October that SAP's recovery would last until 2025 at the earliest. The stock price has yet to fully recover after dropping roughly 23% following that proclamation.

Wednesday's announcement shows that he's hoping to accelerate that timeline by quickly juicing the company's number of overall cloud customers. Under such a system, expensive, long-term contracts are traded for monthly subscription payments. While that might mean lower upfront costs for some clients, industry experts say they may end up paying more over the long term, especially if customers add on other services, which is one reason why the strategy is so attractive for vendors. SAP, for example, previously estimated that cloud revenue could exceed traditional sales and reach roughly $26 billion by 2025.

When asked, on average, how much more clients would end up paying under this promotion, Klein said the offering "has a lot of value in it." A spokesperson declined to say how SAP was factoring this offer into its overall financial outlook.

And for clients that held off on the cloud until now, the offer provides a seemingly viable rationale to move, with one consolidated contract likely covering the bulk of their needs, including service and deployment costs.

"It will take a great deal of work to move these large customized enterprises off of their legacy applications," IDC Program Vice President Mickey North Rizza told Protocol. "SAP customers have been given a pathway towards the intelligent enterprise using modern software."

The offering ran as a pilot project since July, with 130 customers currently signed up. As of Wednesday, it's now available for new and existing customers.

"The machine internally is already ready," said Klein.

People

No editing, no hashtags: Dispo wants you to live in the moment

David Dobrik's new photography app harkens back to the days of the disposable camera.

Dispo turns the concept of a photography app into something altogether different.

Image: Katya Sapozhnina, Diana Morgan, Amanda Luke

Instagram was once a place to share Starbucks cups and high-contrast pet photos. After Facebook acquired it in 2012, it has turned into a competition of getting as many likes as possible (using the same formula over and over: post the best highly-curated, edited photos with the funniest captions). More recently, it's essentially become a shopping mall, with brands falling over themselves to be heard through the noise. Doing something "for the gram" — scaling buildings, posting the same cringe picture over and over — became the norm. Pop-up museums litter cities with photo ops for posts; "camera eats first"; everything can be a cute Instagram story; everything is content.

And to be clear, Dispo — a buzzy new photography app that just came out of beta — is still a place for content. It probably isn't going to fix our collective online brains and their inclination to share everything about our private lives with others online. It's still an app, and it's still social media, and it encourages documenting your life. But it runs pretty differently than any other image-sharing app out there. And that might be what helps it stand out in an oversaturated market of social networking apps.

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Jane Seidel

Jane Seidel is Protocol's social media manager. She was previously a platform producer at The Wall Street Journal, creating mobile content and crafting alert strategy. Prior to that, she worked in audience development at WSJ and on digital editorial at NBC Universal. She lives in Brooklyn.

Sponsored Content

Building better relationships in the age of all-remote work

How Stripe, Xero and ModSquad work with external partners and customers in Slack channels to build stronger, lasting relationships.

Image: Original by Damian Zaleski

Every business leader knows you can learn the most about your customers and partners by meeting them face-to-face. But in the wake of Covid-19, the kinds of conversations that were taking place over coffee, meals and in company halls are now relegated to video conferences—which can be less effective for nurturing relationships—and email.

Email inboxes, with hard-to-search threads and siloed messages, not only slow down communication but are also an easy target for scammers. Earlier this year, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages.

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Protocol | Enterprise

Rimini Street is trying to stifle SAP and Oracle's cloud business

The animosity dates back over a decade, but the feud is reaching new heights.

Search for Rimini Street in Google, and one of the top results that pops up, just below the company's own site, is this one from Oracle.

Image: Protocol

For over a decade, a bitter feud has been raging in the enterprise software industry, pitting SAP and Oracle against Rimini Street, a relative unknown in comparison that's trying to undermine one of their most lucrative revenue streams. Now, that battle is nearing a pinnacle as the legacy providers try to persuade their customers to make the pivot to the cloud.

Founded in 2005 by former PeopleSoft executives, Rimini Street made a name for itself offering cheaper support for Oracle and SAP products than the vendors themselves provide. The business model hits at an under-the-radar, but critical aspect of deploying big-ticket products from any software titan: the need to continually keep the systems up to date. And the importance of that maintenance revenue stream — one of the largest for both SAP and Oracle — is evident in the intensity of the drama with Rimini Street.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Power

Cord cutting in 2020: Pay TV industry lost 5.5 million subscribers

Subscriber defections slowed toward the end of the year, but there's no end to cord cutting in sight.

The pay TV industry is undergoing a bit of a power shift.

Photo: Nicolas J Leclercq/Unsplash

The five biggest pay TV providers lost a combined 5.5 million subscribers in 2020, narrowly staying below the 5.8 million subscribers the companies collectively lost in 2019. Subscriber losses slowed a bit toward the end of the year, but pandemic-related cutbacks still hit the industry hard — and may have led to hundreds of thousands additional cancellations if not for industry-wide billing relief efforts.

The industry is undergoing a bit of a power shift, with pay TV subscribers switching from traditional operators like Comcast and AT&T to tech companies like Google and Hulu and their respective pay TV services. However, a closer look at pay TV trends suggests that these gains may be temporary, as so-called skinny bundles fall out of favor with consumers once operators are forced to increase their price tags to make up for ever-increasing network licensing costs.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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