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The article is poorly written, and SAP is indefensible as a company.

That said, welcome to my world. It's been an interesting experience working in an industry (ecommerce) that is regarded as a huge yawnfest by most of the startup community. The reality is that there really are very interesting problems to solve. Algorithms to predict demand curves, optimize warehouse pullbox location, and identify product flow constraints are all arguably more interesting problems to solve than sharing photos.

Nonetheless, nobody cares. And that's fine, mostly.

"SAP is indefensible as a company."

What does that even mean?

As others have remarked in this thread, their products are maintenance and UX nightmares, and their sales and legal departments operate on the basis of "do lots of evil".

I suppose it was an exaggerated choice of term, but I was trying to set aside the specific issue of SAP to talk about the somewhat broader issue of how the tech community often finds technology boring if it doesn't appear in the form of a consumer app.

It is difficult arguing with results. I can't personally judge SAP particularly well, but its interesting to me that they are so successful in the long run despite "UX nightmares" & evil sales dept. That to me suggests that they are doing something else right which is worth paying attention to.

It's because of their "Hotel California" strategy: you can check in but you can't check out.

Seriously, once your company is using SAP, it's rarely going to be worth rejecting them. It will be more cost effective to just pull SAP data out of SAP and use it in whatever way you need to than it is to try to customize SAP or get a new system that better fits your needs.

A big reason they stick around is because decision-makers are so fearful of changing very basic systems (i.e. payroll, accounting, etc).

Maybe they re better at capturing value than at creating it?

The answer is pretty simple: companies that implement ERPs save money and are more successful. It's the business change aspect that matters, and SAP enables that business change.

Totally agree with you on the UX nightmares, and this needs to be fixed. But if you look at SAP's new products, they are pretty interesting from a UX perspective. Design thinking is at the core of it. I really encourage you to take a look at for example http://www.experiencesaphana.com

SAP legal (like most large IT companies) has work to be done, and they know that. I hope they do something.

On the sales side your comments surprise me. I work with those guys on a regular basis and the vast majority are customer focussed: they have to be, or customers won't continue to buy. But this has changed a lot in the last 10 years.

SAP is rarely ripped out because it's rarely worth replacing systems of record. They are a long term investment, and most financial people are fine with SAP: it affords them control.

some companies are successful because of (rather than despite) "evil sales dept"

Not in the long run. Unless they have some other leverage like a monopoly or something.

Do you think Oracle is a great company from which innovation springs forth?

Who said anything about innovation? For all I care a company can be making grey widgets...if they do that better than anybody else then it is of interest (for me).

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