VIDEO: The Key to SAP’s Future Success? Listen Up

June 26, 2013 by Derek Klobucher 0

“Not listening to people like you would be our biggest mistake,” SAP Chief Customer Value Officer Chakib Bouhdary told scores of industry analysts last week in Newtown Square. “It’s all about listening: listening to our customers, what they want, and listening to your feedback.”

“There is no doubt in my mind this is the right thing to do,” Bouhdary told SAP Business Trends.

Their feedback is important because customers talk to industry analysts about what they’re buying — and complain to them about why they’re not buying. Fostering a dialogue is one of the major reasons that SAP opened up its North American headquarters last week to more than 60 analysts, journalists and other influencers from around the world for the 4th annual SAP Industry Analyst Base Camp.

We’re All Ears
The importance of listening to analysts and customers was a big part of Bouhdary’s keynote address and his closing remarks at the two-day invitation-only event. Analysts have a lot to say to SAP, and that includes suggestions for the influencer conference itself.

Analysts in years past indicated that they would like to hear from SAP customers. So this year’s Base Camp included an Industry Customer Panel, in which three businesses openly discussed big challenges they had faced and how SAP solutions helped them prevail.

“They really love customer examples,” Bouhdary said of the analysts during a video interview with SAP Business Trends, citing his earlier story about SAP helping to improve agricultural efficiency. “They’re starting to realize that we’re not a stodgy, slow ERP company anymore.”

Eyes on the Future
Another reason SAP hosted the influencers was to offer insight into the company’s vision for the future. This occurred via panels, presentations and a dinner on Tuesday night, as well as break-out sessions about 13 of SAP’s 25 focus industries.

“I hope next year we can take this beyond 13 industries and have break-outs with all 25 industries,” Bouhdary told SAP Business Trends. “There is no doubt in my mind this is the right thing to do.”

SAP and its focus industries will blend cutting-edge solutions with the company’s 40-year legacy of loyalty to customers, delivering innovation without disruption, according to Bouhdary. But, he assured the analysts, this flexibility will not cost SAP its humility.

“If we feel too arrogant — if we drink our own Kool-Aid — and believe in our success, I think we’re going to fail,” Bouhdary told the audience during the event’s closing remarks. “Our humble attitude to listening and learning is going to take us to the next level.”

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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This post originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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