Future of SAP APO
A few general questions about SNP, PPDS and GATP modules:
1. With more and more consultants getting experienced in SAP APO modules like SNP/PPDS/GATP -- is there really a good future for all ? I mean will not be there a problem of plenty as many good consultants will be around and still world economy is sluggish.
2. As of now we do not see any other SCM software competing with APO -- and even if some new software comes --it will take 5-10 years to grab the market share. So, this way is SAP APO in a very safe territory ?
Ofcourse SAP itself is coming out with new applications like HANA,EM etc but their area of application is different-- not core --supply chain management.
Kindly answer both the points.
Somnath Manna replied
Well the question was posted on Friday and a reminder put on today already asking for responses
GIG SL you must be either desparate or have a career decision to be made today / this week.
Jokes apart as Dogboy and Satish has replied and I agree with their points.
Let me put a different take based on my experience and how I see myself doing SCM consulting for at least reasonable future (I do not make enough money to retire early nor do I intend to move over to the dark side of project/ delivery management).
1. According to basic economics there is demand-supply curve and equilibrium on that determines the price. So as more and more consultants are coming into SAP (not just APO modules) supply is rising but at the same time demand in form of more and more clients implementing / optimising / running SAP applications is increasing. Economy is really not sluggish compared to say late 2008-09 and if there are some old-times then back in 2001-02. The market has matured and so have client needs - with most of the major companies already implemented / invested in SAP the focus is now on how to recoup the investment and how to derive value from IT. At the same time CIO budgets are under pressure. Bottomline there is still demand but one needs to be either a deep specialist in a particular application module or generalist with expertise in one area and knowledge of related areas / application. The first specialist hopefully gets called out for his deep experistise to solve specific problems faced by clients and second generalist called out for architecting an end to end solution serving a business process that may span across multiple applications.
2. While it is true right now there is not many SCM applications from other competitors so much in attention like SAP, remember in early to mid 2000s it was not so. In fact APO was struggling compared to i2 and even Manugistics was going strong. Yes that has changed but there are still niche softwares in SCM space focused by industry (like Chemicals, Process industry) that have good usage. What set APO apart was the tight integration with SAP ERP which is still the case till date. You plan in one application but keeping it in sync with your Execution system and seamlessly transfer plan to action is a big big plus for APO. That was not possible for most of the competition and according to me that is where they took the back seat.
There are white spaces in APO that we all know of and let me give few examples
a) In PPDS certain clients still use 3rd party Scheduling applications especially in chemical and process industries (just look at the amount of functionalities brought out in SCM 7 onwards)
b) Safety Stock Planning (actual Safety Stock and Target Norms) is done outside APO. Many companies used SmartOps which SAP has bought out.
c) Value based planning and Promotion planning / tracking in APO DP - most CPG companies go for CRM or TPM (Trade Promotion Management) and BPC applications.
Finally coming to new applications that you mentioned "HANA, EM" well there are completely different things. HANA is a core technology somewhat like the Netweaver ABAP stack that provides the base for the applications to run. So no point comparing that with SCM. As for EM (Event Management) it has been around for a long time - it does not compete with SCM. In fact when Auto-ID and EPIC were hot in Supply Chain / Logistics space, EM rode with it. Over time it got sidelined but now EM is back in action thanks to SAP TM (Transportation Management). EM again is more of a core technical functionality similar to if I can dare to say BI. It can be used in multiple process areas be it supply chain, production, marketing, finance, asset management etc.
If you are interested then have a look at this blog on my presentation at TechEd Banaglore.
Well this may be a long answer for a Monday but then I have some time to spare before my US client wakes up and comes online .
Hope this helps and gives you some perspective on future of APO.