Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ein Fuß auf dem Friedhof?

That is, of course, German for "one foot in the Graveyard"... much confusion and conflicting information about what SAP is and is not doing with its much-discussed BusinessByDesign offering.

Are they pulling the plug on new development?  Maybe.  But as Cindy Jutras noted in a post last month, rumors have been swirling about the product for many months.  But things have picked up - and it kind of feels like the moment where the President says he's got total confidence in the Secretary of Screwups, right before he throws him/her under the bus.

Has ByDesign been successful?  Well, not by most peoples' definition of success.  Ben Kepes over at Forbes faults the SAP culture, which strikes me as fair.  This is, after all, the company who gave us a product called All-in-One.

Typical of the coverage are these posts by AllThingsD and Accounting Technology, which cite original reporting by the German business mag WirtschaftsWoche.  Among the widely-repeated and uncontested factoids therein:

  • 7 years of development work, at a cost of 3 billion Euros (that's $4.1 billion)
  • a grand total of 785 customers to date
  • annual revenue of 23 million Euros ($31.6 million)

So that works out to $5,257,834.39 cost per customer.  Far from groovin'.


  1. Dennis Howlett responded to a @freebalance tweet the other day saying that the 3 billion Euro figure is fiction. It seems to have taken on a life of its own. Is there a reputable source for the number? That's, as you know, a heck of a lot of money to invest. Probably more than the combined cost for R/1 and R/2.

  2. Hi Doug,

    The 3 billion Euro figure was reported in the WirtschaftsWoche article, and widely repeated, as I said. If Dennis - or better yet, someone from SAP - has a rebuttal online somewhere, I'm happy to link to it.


  3. More from The Register and PC World, wherein Ray Wang points the finger at the SAP sales force, who didn't want to cannibalize their big-ticket sales.

  4. An interesting postscript at Accounting Technology today: the successor to BBD will be a "platform" with an HTML5 front-end.

    Heck, if that's what you want, save yourself a few billion and check out xTuple's Mobile Web platform.