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Mission Control: Sending SAP Customers into the Right Orbit

April 24, 2015 by Stephan Magura

In their quest to become perfect companies, organizations invariably encounter SAP’s mission control center. It sends customers into the right orbit.

We are experiencing a digital transformation, with IT as a key driver of innovation. And innovation is irresistible.

The fact is that many companies – even whole industries – are in a state of flux. Markus Albrecht, head of Global Service & Support Germany, can confirm this. According to Albrecht, business models are changing, in some cases dramatically.

“Thanks to the Internet, purely manufacturing companies are suddenly coming into contact with end customers. And as the result of mobile trends, industry-leading equipment manufacturers are having to shift their business to provide software solutions for smartphones and tablets,” he says, citing two examples.

Developments such as Industry 4.0 are connecting the economy and at the moment no one dares predict where the digital transformation is headed. Albrecht says he could imagine that Lego will one day grant consumers permission to print the blocks they want at home on their 3D printer.

In the face of this revolution, “we need all our skills to support our customers in their transformation,” says Albrecht. And it’s not about improving everyday processes here and there. On the basis of SAP MaxAttention, SAP wants to provide strategic support and all-round care for its customers, and help them reach new goals with the help of end-to-end processes. In Global Service & Support (GSS), consulting and support will work closely together in the future, marking one of the largest transformations in the history of SAP.

Albrecht explains, “In individual cases, the two are already integrated. But that’s not true of all our important customers worldwide.”

And Wolfgang Eschenfelder, head of the Mission Control Center, adds, “Our global customers with premium engagement contracts expect a global partner such as SAP to operate with the same high quality level throughout the world. That’s why we need global structures and a future-proof engagement model.”

From problem solver to innovation partner

In its capacity as central control room, these are just what the mission control center now plans to put into practice. Through the mission control center, SAP taps its know-how even before transformations start – for example, to determine both customers’ innovation potential and their innovation requirements.

“On the basis of our day-to-day work, we can gain an exact picture of the specific challenges,” Eschenfelder explains. And he specifically includes experiences from mediocre projects. “Until now, we at SAP took little notice of this factor,” he says.

The vast number of SAP MaxAttention customers play into the hands of Eschenfelder and his team, who can look beyond individual customer relationships and discover similarities. This results in an interesting situation: Every new SAP MaxAttention engagement broadens the horizons of Eschenfelder’s team, while at the same time, each new SAP MaxAttention customer profits from previous engagements. The mission control center thus becomes the ideal starting point for transporting new topics like SAP S/4HANA into the installed base.

So what exactly does this look like? At the mission control center and its global branches, SAP experts make all aspects of the customer situation transparent. Is the current solution portfolio still state-of-the-art? Which customer-specific details should be considered when drawing up a quotation?

The mission control center bundles all the necessary resources so that the customer can move from A to B. Depending on the project phase, the core team is supplemented with specific experts from all areas of GSS.

Albrecht says, “When we want to flesh out ideas or model and implement a road map, we need strategy consulting, technical consultants with SAP HANA or cloud expertise, or SAP Custom Development.” What’s more, Eschenfelder is certain that such a rotation model fosters mutual knowledge transfer.

More efficiency through best practices

To make things clear: The mission control center remains the hub for controlling and optimizing the system operations of SAP MaxAttention customers, but it has taken on many new tasks. For example, it will also assume quality assurance for transformation projects – and ensure that tried-and-true standards are used. That’s the only way this model can work efficiently.

“Our colleagues in support were always better than us when it came to standardizing and harmonizing,” says Albrecht in praise Eschenfelder’s old stomping ground. He continues, “We recently implemented a global spare parts solution for a large automotive manufacturer. Now other customers have approached us with the same request. Together with the mission control center, we can now compare the extent to which this company’s requirements tally with those of the new interested customers.” This means methods and procedures from this implementation could be reused.

Such best practices are invaluable. At the mission control center, the team goes a step further: Specifics from industries such as automotive or banking are merged with reference processes for certain areas (for example, sales, purchasing, HR) to create industry-specific “model companies.” The plan is for them to serve as the starting point for customers’ innovation journeys.

Eschenfelder’s goal for this year is to ensure that the MaxAttention pilot customers are particularly satisfied. Furthermore, he wants to extend the new cooperation model to the other GSS areas and strengthen it. “We’ll collaborate with each other more than in the past,” Eschenfelder says.

But won’t that make everything more complicated? “Things will be easier for the customer, while we’ll have a bit more work in some areas,” Albrecht answers. But, he adds, it’s like with a car: To improve the driving experience, manufacturers need to integrate more and more software.

And is there anyone who’d rather not have Brake Assist?

Photo: Shutterstock

 

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