SAP.info spoke to Dan Maloney, Vice President, GEPG and Global Lead of SAP EcoHub.
What exactly is the SAP EcoHub?
The SAP EcoHub is a community-powered online solution marketplace for partner and selected SAP offerings that gives our customers a simple way to discover, evaluate and buy solutions. It was built for our customers to give them the right information at the right time to make better-informed decisions. In one single location, we give them a 360-degree view of every solution – not just what SAP and its partners have to say, but also what SAP customers and the IT community at large are saying.
Can you elaborate a bit more about SAP EcoHub’s features and functionality?
For customers, SAP EcoHub greatly simplifies the process of finding the right solutions to complement existing SAP investments. It has enhanced search features that let users query with free-text just like they would on Google, or search by industry or category. It also includes Web 2.0 capabilities like ratings and community reviews. And it has tools for bookmarking and information sharing. That could involve traditional collaboration capabilities like email and popular social networking tools like Facebook and Digg. For partners, SAP EcoHub offers content self-service and lead management capabilities, which makes it a highly scalable, low-cost online marketplace.
Would you say that SAP EcoHub represents the convergence of consumer and enterprise go-to-market paradigms?
Yes. Many consumer-centric behaviors and paradigms also apply in the enterprise marketplace. If you go to a consumer site like Amazon.com, eBay or Bestbuy.com (one of my favorites), the idea is to provide the consumer with most or all of the information they need to make a buying decision in a way that is simple and easy to consume. That is what SAP EcoHub does for the enterprise audience: It gives them the right information at the right time, with limited human interaction, to make the best possible decision.
SAP EcoHub comes out of the Global Ecosystem Partner Group, so it has origins as a partner-driven initiative. How does SAP EcoHub benefit SAP partners?
The value to our partners is pretty clear. SAP EcoHub gives partners a globally available, 24×7 online channel where they can showcase their solutions while getting access to a captive SAP customer base. It is definitely a new way of doing business with SAP and our ecosystem. But what is perhaps most important for our partners is that this new channel provides a new marketing platform that captures and passes leads directly to partners. It’s a huge advantage.
Is EcoHub limited to third-party solution providers?
For now, the short-term focus is partner offerings. But we will work with our broader ecosystem and SAP to determine where we want to grow in 2009 and beyond. It is probably safe to say that in the immediate future the SAP EcoHub will be a key place to conduct SAP-related business online – whether that involves ecosystem offerings, SAP solutions, or both.
Do you see the SAP EcoHub evolving in conjunction with the evolution of SAP on-demand solutions?
Yes, and we have already started to see some synergies with the On Demand group. We are currently piloting a seamless experience for customers that allows them to go to the SAP EcoHub to discover, evaluate, try – and ultimately buy – solutions online. This same capability could be leveraged for SAP BusinessObjects solutions, SAP CRM on-demand solution or other offerings.
Is EcoHub SAP’s response to Salesforce, or are we doing something a bit different?
“SAP EcoHub is enabling us to provide greater value to our customers and partners, develop new revenue streams, and better understand the behavior of our customers and our partners in the market.” Dan Maloney, Vice President, Global Ecosystem Partner Group.
I would not consider it a response. In fact, the idea of an online marketplace has been around for some time now. But the SAP online ecosystem is very different for a couple of key reasons. For one, we bring an extremely strong SAP community to the table. It is easier for our customers to get a more holistic view of solution offerings than ever before. Another key strength of the SAP EcoHub is the trust factor. We call it “trusted engagement”. We have implemented a stringent policy at SAP EcoHub to ensure that our customers can trust what they buy there. To offer a solution at SAP EcoHub, you must be an SAP partner with an up-to-date certification. SAP EcoHub also offers customer success stories, ratings and reviews from a community of 1.4 million developers and consultants – the people who actually implement the solutions. So this 360-degree view really instills a lot of trust and confidence.