The Math of Probable S/4HANA & Fiori Usage

Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • SAP has made exaggerated claims regarding the usage of S/4HANA and Fiori.
  • In this article, we estimate the actual usage, which is quite distinct from these claims.

Introduction

SAP has been releasing false numbers regarding S4 HANA and Fiori’s uptake and usage for several years now. This is driven by the desire to make it appear as if their new offering is far more popular than it is. The more they can seem to have a wide acceptance of these new products, the more they can convince others to purchase S/4 HANA (and accompanying Fiori), and the more they can convince Wall Street that their strategy is working. SAP claims 4,200 customers of S/4 HANA. (I prefer to call S/4 HANA simply “S4” as I find S/4 HANA to be marketing-centric as there is no reason to have the database as part of the application’s name). The evidence I bring is one cannot find another application with the database in its name. You will learn about the actual usage of both S4 and, by extension Fiori.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles, see this link.

Lack of Financial Bias Notice: We have no financial ties to SAP or any other entity mentioned in this article.

  • This is published by a research entity.
  • Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department. 

The Math for the Estimate

To estimate the amount of Fiori usage and how drastically it differs from the statements made by SAP, we have to isolate where Fiori is used.

  • Fiori has been designed to be used with the S4 ERP system, at least in the beginning. Fiori has been broadened to work with other applications, but there are still very few S4 applications.
  • S4 only works with HANA, and Fiori only works with HANA for roughly 83% of its apps. (This is a correction. Bjorn comment can be read below this article. It is a good interchange. However, Bjorn’s estimate, upon review, is also inaccurate. The number of Fiori apps requires its own article because of the confusing way that SAP has counted Fiori apps)

Therefore determining likely Fiori usage means estimating S4 usage.

According to SAP, they have 50,000 ERP customers across 25 industries. I have been on projects where it is claimed that SAP has upwards of 250,000 customers. However, this would mean any company that owned an SAP license for any application. It would not necessarily include active customers. SAP may count customers that used their software 10 years ago and moved off of their software.

For this estimate, I have gone with the 50,000 ERP customers to compare against the total number of S4 customers.

I have spent time estimating the number of customers using S4 with inputs from multiple sources and around 150. This is 150 global customers either in the current state of implementing S/4HANA or having already implemented it (almost all only having implemented S4 Finance). The largest concentration of these implementations is in Germany. They were not undertaken because of S4’s value (as it is a currently being developed application – set of applications) but because of SAP’s control over these companies. (See this article for the surprising details on the implement-ability of S4)

That would mean that of the 50,000 customers, 150/50,000 or .003 of SAP ERP customers use S4. But this is not 150 live customers with S4.

However, this is not sufficient for estimating how small the usage of Fiori actually is. Unlike what has been proposed by Hasso Plattner, Fiori is not a replacement for SAPGUI. Fiori is only a little over 1000 apps that are concentrated in low data intensive transactions. No company can use S4 without spending most of its time in SAPGUI. Companies would use S4 some percentage of the 1000 apps, but these apps replicate screens in the SAPGUI, and there would be a transitionary time and training required to use these Fiori apps.

  • Therefore of the 150 implementations of S4, some small subset of the overall transactions accessed by SAP customers that use S4 use some Fiori apps.
  • Of these 150 implementations, only a portion of them may be using some of the Fiori apps.

Conclusion

Understanding these limitations of Fiori’s possible usage indicates that Fiori’s overall usage must be minimal. This likely fact, combined with the fact that Fiori has been around for several years now, argues very poorly for Fiori’s likely survival.

What is also interesting about this is if you compare the numbers I have come up with versus pretty much every other number that is published — it is far off. This is because just about every IT media outlet just takes SAP’s word for how many companies are using the software. Wall Street and the traditional IT media are so easy for SAP to fool because they apply no filter to what they are told by SAP.