SAP saps client goodwill

Taking license. Source: DPA

At first glance, Diageo, the maker of Smirnoff and Johnny Walker, might not have much in common with a small German agricultural cooperative based in the Rhine. But both are hopping mad about their software bills.

Both are SAP customers and both are now subject to extra licensing fees being levied for using other software. They and many others are fuming at having to pay to access their data. Critics sputtered that this shows the company’s “clear preference for squeezing every penny over good customer relations.”

For example a medium-sized German business whose chief information officer prefers to remain unnamed. Bills arrived for services that had long since been used. After a lengthy back and forth, there seemed to be no way out of paying an extra €200,000 ($233,000). For a company with annual turnover of €2 billion, that hurt and left little aside for fresh IT investment, the CIO told WirtschaftsWoche, a sister publication to Handelsblatt.

The new fees are for what SAP calls indirect access to its services. Many companies use SAP products to run their business operations, and a large international firm might have thousands of third-party logistics companies. Often for these customers, SAP isn’t the sole software provider: The company might also use IT services from rivals Salesforce or Oracle. But now whenever SAP customers use competing software in order to access data in their own systems originally stored in an SAP database, they must hold a license for “indirect use.”

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