Aussie SAP users seek global platform

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Aussie SAP users seek global platform

Local group to lean on global panel for licensing clarity.

Australia's SAP User Group (SAUG) hopes to win a seat on the executive of a global user group to arm itself with the clout and objective distance necessary to tackle complex customer issues such as licensing and price transparency.

SAUG has remained silent after its peers in the UK and Ireland kickstarted a global campaign to convince SAP to publish price lists and loosen licensing restrictions across several core product areas.

SAUG chief executive officer Mark Baker told iTnews this week that licensing "certainly is an issue" for many SAP customers, and the matter required "clarity and simplification."

"We have a number of channels for members to express concerns," he said, "there is our CIO Council, which has face to face meetings twice a year, and there are around 25 active special interest groups."

However, Baker said the best forum to pursue the licensing matter in public was via the SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN) - a panel representing SAP user associations around the globe.

Graham Reynolds, a past chairman and current committee member of SAUG, is nominating for an executive position at SUGEN at a meeting to be held next month in Madrid, Spain.

There currently are five elected representatives on the SUGEN leadership committee - four from EMEA and one from the Americas.

"We have always had a voice through our membership of SUGEN - but this would give us a seat at the main table," Baker said.

SUGEN claims to be the "voice of the customer" and a "strategic sparring partner" for SAP on critical customer issues.

It was established in 2007 when SAP attempted to hike its maintenance fees by 30 percent, and it has managed to negotiate some minor compromises.

Both SAUG and SUGEN lay claim to being independent and not-for-profit. SAUG covers part of its costs via membership fees.

But like most user groups, event sponsorship and other funding from the German software vendor does require the user groups to temper their approach to issues such as pricing and licensing.

"If they [SAP] weren't around, we wouldn't be around," Baker explained. "We are working together for the continued success of both organisations. But we are fully independent and managed and they appreciate our independence."

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