Interview: Customers Embrace HANA

Tim Noble tells what UK & Ireland customers are asking for: HANA (photo: SAP)
Tim Noble tells all about the hottest trends in UK & Ireland (photo: SAP) Let’s start with what has happened in the past year. What were the important events and milestones for you in 2010?

Tim Noble: First, from a business perspective, we had a really fantastic year. Not only did we perform well in the market but, more importantly, our customer satisfaction index improved significantly from the year before. At the end of Q3 in 2010, we had a 92% satisfaction rate and we’re working hard to keep it that way throughout 2011. What do you see as hot topics in the industry today? What is important to your customers?

Tim Noble: In terms of technologies, business analytics continues to be very important to customers, as well as CRM and HR. Another hot topic, especially in the U.K., is cloud computing. We’re often one of the first regions to embrace new technologies, and that means significant competition for SAP because niche cloud-computing vendors tend to open here first.

Outside of technologies, the public sector is a hot topic. The government’s deficit and public spending is on everybody’s minds and I believe our solutions offer the insight and governance models needed to help authorities of all kinds bring their administration a step forward. What sort of particular business problems or challenges do customers in the U.K. and Ireland region face? And how do you help people run their businesses better?

Tim Noble: I don’t think this region really differs from others – our customers continue to be concerned about costs. One of the ways we’re helping them in that respect is to address the question, how do you drive value from SAP and how do you drive it as quickly as possible? Customers are looking for a greater and quicker return-on-investment, and we’re delivering that with our rapid deployment solutions. We’re working closely with field services to see how customers can implement more quickly and how we can better package those implementations.

Customers in the U.K. especially embrace cloud computing and in-memory technology. We have some big SAP customers, and they are very interested in SAP HANA and the benefits of the NewDB. So our job is to help these organizations, many of them quite mature in their use of SAP, to maximize the value they get from us.

Next Page: Tim Noble discusses SAP HANA and Sybase SAP HANA came out in March. Is that how we differentiate ourselves clearly from the competition?

Tim Noble: Yes, clearly, but we’re not limiting ourselves to HANA. The whole area of mobility is equally important, for example. This is where the U.K. and Ireland are to some extent different from other regions or countries. These countries are highly mobile and pretty advanced in their use of mobile technologies. I think we were one of the first countries to have 3G. And whether it’s the device or the actual technology, there is a big push for mobility. Hence, our acquisition of Sybase. How was the acquisition of Sybase perceived in the region?

Tim Noble: I got lots of positive feedback on the acquisition. Customers believe it’s the right strategy, but of course now they’re anxious to see the results. And SAPPHIRE NOW in May will show the good work our joint teams have done to bring innovations to the mobility market. As a closing question, let’s talk about 2011 and the year after. What are your goals? Where do you want to take SAP in the U.K. and Ireland?

Tim Noble: One goal is to continue to grow, and I think we have a significant opportunity to do that. SME will play an increasingly important part in that, and it will also be important to help customers gain all the value they can get out of our portfolio, be it with the SAP Business Suite, our on-demand products, or our service offerings.

Another goal is to be more customer-centric. I think in past years we distanced ourselves from our customers but that is now changing. We clearly have a stronger communication in our whole SAP Enterprise Support area and our customer satisfaction continues to increase. If we’re customer-centric, the rest will follow.

The third goal involves the game-changing technologies: In-memory, HANA, business analytics, and SAP Business ByDesign – these are all relatively new technologies with great potential. It will be exciting to see customers benefit from all these innovations.

Tim Noble, Managing Director of SAP UKI


Tim Noble, Managing Director of SAP United Kingdom & Ireland, joined the company on June 15, 2009. His primary focus is to drive the company’s business strategy and execute growth plans that will enable SAP to expand its leadership position in the business software arena. A key goal for Tim is to carry forward the company’s Clear strategy, which enables customers to exploit SAP’s integrated solutions for improved performance, efficiency, and flexibility. Prior to beginning his role at SAP, Tim was Senior Vice President and Executive Officer at Gartner. In this role, Tim had responsibility for the development and execution of the company’s global sales strategy. During his 15 years working with Gartner, he served in a number of sales and leadership positions. Prior to this, Tim worked for organisations including New Science Associates, and Yourdon International, a subsidiary of Kodak. Tim holds a Law Degree from the University of Buckingham.