SAP Digital Access Survey 2020

Transparency and reliability not yet achieved

“This makes digital access transparent and reliable” was the slogan with which SAP advertised its new pricing model for licensing indirect use in 2018. A year later, SAP launched the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP), an offer to accelerate the spread, especially among its existing customers.”

But how is the acceptance of the SAP Digital Access license model and does the Digital Access Adoption Program offer sufficient incentives for a change? The current survey by Felix Baran (COMPLION AG) and Guido Schneider (Software License Compliance 365 Ltd.) dealt with these questions.

Survey data

The majority of the participants in the survey, which was carried out between June and August 2020, come from German-speaking countries (86%) and from the “manufacturing, trade & services” sectors (93%). Most of the participants stated that they have been SAP customers for more than 10 years (86%). The participants represent a cross-section through different sizes, with:

under 1,000 SAP users (42%)

between 1,000 and 5,000 SAP users (33%) and

over 5,000 SAP users (25%), of which 12% with over 25,000 users.

Knowledge level of those responsible for SAP increased

The majority of all respondents (86%) stated that they had already dealt with the topic of indirect use and were also familiar with the SAP Digital Access license model (82%). An increase compared to the surveys carried out by Guido Schneider in 2015 and 2018 can be observed among companies who are of the opinion that the use of SAP software in their company involves indirect use according to the SAP definition . The following table shows the responses over time:

SAP customers surveyed have not yet made any arrangements for indirect use with SAP. In the case of existing agreements, however, the old form of licensing (named user and order processing licenses) or individual regulations predominate. Few of the respondents (12%) agreed on licensing based on SAP Digital Access.

As a result, it can be said that there is still a large, untapped sales potential for SAP in the licensing of indirect use. A promotion on the sales as well as the audit side can therefore be expected.

Biggest points of criticism: lack of transparency and doubts about legality

The main reasons given for the relatively low acceptance of the digital access pricing model on the customer side are the lack of transparency in connection with the measurement and evaluation of the types and numbers of documents and the legal uncertainty. Other mentions concern the high costs and lack of budget planning for these. The determination of requirements has also not yet been completed in many places.

As a result, it can be stated that while those responsible for SAP have increased their knowledge of whether or not there is indirect use in their company, it is still difficult for them to determine the number of documents for digital access. There is still a lack of Transparency of what and how exactly is counted. The results also show that the respondents, besides the demand for more transparency, missed a legal clarification of the topic. Even today – five years after the first survey – the question of whether SAP is even entitled to charge additional licenses for indirect use has not yet been clarified.

Incidentally, only 50% of those surveyed stated that they were even aware of the antitrust complaint by VOICE – Bundesverband der IT -utzer e.V. against the licensing of indirect use. VOICE accuses the software company that the license terms of SAP are unlawful and that the monopoly is using its strong position in the market for ERP software against its customers to their disadvantage. In addition, SAP is damaging the market for manufacturers of third-party applications with its licensing requirements. The opinion from SAP, which has now reached the Cartel Office, is currently being examined. It is still unclear when a result can be expected.

Incentive program (DAAP) is not working properly

The Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) was set up specifically to increase its penetration among SAP customers. Most of the respondents (63%) are familiar with the DAAP, but it does not appear to be an incentive to buy, as 67% stated that they are not sure whether the offer is commercially attractive. After all, from the participants who have already licensed Digital Access, 57% used the DAAP when purchasing the new licenses.

Current reservations regarding transparency and the users’ uncertainty as to whether the SAP approach is lawful at all are weighted higher than pure cost considerations. The DAAP has no broad impact because it does not comprehensively address the key points of criticism of SAP customers. The extension of the program until the end of 2021 is unlikely to change that.

Evaluation yes, but without SAP and external consultants

Nevertheless, SAP customers are grappling with the new Digital Access license model. A third of all respondents said they had already carried out an assessment of SAP Digital Access. Another third are planning the assessment, while another third has no intention of taking a closer look at Digital Access.

The vast majority of SAP customers plan to evaluate Digital Access without involving SAP and without external consultants. From this it can be concluded that this is still a sensitive topic that companies prefer to investigate internally and with their own know-how.

Companies for which the evaluation is not yet on the agenda are probably still feeling the effects no external pressure to act or consciously prefer a certain lack of transparency with regard to indirect use in order not to be forced to act. A procedure that becomes critical when a short-term decision about licensing has to be made and the necessary database is missing.

License acquisition despite a lack of data

Basically, only the SAP Passport Tool, which is also used for system measurement, can provide such a data basis. In addition to the high implementation effort, there are doubts in the community as to whether the tool is even fully developed, whether the results of the tool are reliable or whether other documents may have to be counted in the future than is currently the case. When asked about the use of external license management tools (such as Aspera LicenseControl for SAP® Software, Flexera FlexNet Manager for SAP® Software, Snow Optimizer for SAP® Software or Voquz samQ), over half of the respondents (53%) stated that you do not want to use any of the solutions mentioned for the assessment. A trend that has been continuing since 2015. In all of these cases, you can only rely on your own gut feeling or negotiate with SAP. Both options are risky because experience shows that they are labor-intensive, imprecise and therefore often costly, at least in retrospect.

Insufficient knowledge of the actual amount used Of the respondents who stated that they had already acquired licenses for SAP Digital Access, 71% did so within the framework of the existing ECC contract and 29% within the framework of the SAP S / 4HANA migration via product conversion. However, there is not yet sufficient experience with measurement (audit). Accordingly, no conclusions can be drawn as to how large the deviations between the number of acquired document licenses and the number of document licenses required are in practice.

Conclusion: goal not (yet) achieved

The efforts of SAP to establish the new pricing model SAP Digital Access for the licensing of indirect use have not yet been successfully implemented. The call of SAP customers to make licensing more transparent is still loud, but doubts remain about the fundamental legality of SAP’s demand for additional fees for indirect use. At the same time, those responsible for the license endeavor to gain more security when assessing requirements and negotiating with SAP. The only thing that is certain at the moment is that there is (still) no talk of “transparent and reliable access” in digital access, and so it will initially remain a “lifelong, but severely limited, trusting relationship”.


Felix Baran, Complion AG

Guido Schneider, Software License Compliance 365 Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *