Revenue nudges up 2% year-on-year, S/4 adoption up 2.5% on prior quarter

by Joseph K. Clark

SAP has reported first-quarter 2021 revenue of €6.35bn, up 2% on the same year-ago quarter. Its cloud revenue has increased by 1% to €2.147bn, representing 34% of the total. The supplier has stated its flagship S/4Hana ERP system added 400 new customers in the quarter, taking total adoption to 16,400, an increase of 2.5% on the previous quarter. In Q4 of 2020, 900 new customers were added for S/4Hana. The quarter was notable for the January launch of the “Rise with SAP” package, described in the Q1 results statement as a “simplified pathway for customers to transform their business in the cloud”. Customers cited for the service include Carrefour Brazil, Sono Motors, KIA Chile, Hillstrom, and Grupo Flomax.

Rise is a subscription service that packages managed cloud infrastructure and managed services in one contract. It is a way of bundling all the elements that makeup what SAP has called “intelligent enterprise” for the past few years and making them available as a service. In particular, it may be a way of speeding up the otherwise sluggish adoption of S/4Hana. In the results statement, Christian Klein, CEO of SAP, said: “We are seeing robust order entry growth across our applications portfolio. And we are just getting started. Our new offering, ‘Rise with SAP’, is rapidly accelerating our customers’ business transformations with our platform at the center. With our unique ecosystem of more than 22,000 partners and a strong innovation pipeline for the year, we are well on track with our strategy to deliver robust cloud growth.”


Luka Mucic, chief financial officer, added: “The first quarter of 2021 was unique in many ways. We had the highest order entry growth across cloud and software in five years, posting the strongest increase in Non-IFRS operating profit [€1.741bn] and margin in a decade. In the mid-term, SAP’s expedited shift to the cloud will accelerate top-line growth and significantly increase the resiliency and predictability of our business”. The supplier cited “customer wins” at Unilever, BioNTech, IKEA, Nippon Express, BMW, Yamaha Motor Company, Toshiba Corporation, and AstraZeneca. It also highlighted go-lives at Google, Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte, and Peloton.

The statement also noted “significant competitive wins in ERP, digital supply chain and across its broader cloud solution portfolio”. This is in the context of the Oracle wins against SAP declared by Larry Ellison in the financial analyst call accompanying its most recent quarterly results in March. At that time, SAP’s official response was: “We’ve heard this before, and it’s as spurious now as it was then. Our priority is driving our customers’ success, not putting them in a public relations battle. And our numbers speak for themselves. Our increasing ERP market share is approximately double that of our closest competitor.”

In the results statement, SAP recorded the completion on 5 March of the acquisition of Signavio, a business process intelligence firm, which it announced around the same time as the inception of the “Rise” service. At the time of the announcement of Rising, Paul Cooper, chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, said: “It’s been an extremely challenging 12 months for most organizations, as they have juggled between maintaining ‘business as usual operations and accelerating their digital roadmaps.

“Our recent member survey revealed that 30% of organizations had delayed their move to SAP S/4Hana due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We, therefore, welcome ‘Rise with SAP’ as a package to help customers transform their business by moving to the cloud in a sustainable way that suits them. “It will be interesting to see if ‘Rise with SAP’ helps customers build a strong business case to move to SAP S/4Hana. For customers during business transformation or those worried about the 2027 maintenance deadline [for ECC6], ‘Rise with SAP’ may be attractive as they evaluate their options.”

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