On-Demand: “It’s in our DNA”

Over the past few years SAP has been putting a lot of effort into its on-demand business and its new portfolio of on-demand solutions. Indeed, “cloud” computing is an important part of the company’s growth strategy. But because SAP is so well known for its traditional suite of on-premise business applications, some customers still don’t know the full extent of SAP’s new on-demand applications.

To help organizations worldwide understand and take advantage of these important new tools, SAP recently announced the return of veteran SAP executive Greg Tomb to head its new Global On-Demand Sales and Go-to-Market organization. While at first this might seem like just a routine personnel appointment, this announcement shows that SAP is putting significant focus on building its on-demand business and reputation.

SAP.info: Before returning to SAP you led Vivido Labs, which offers on-demand sales applications. What did you learn there that is influencing your work at SAP?

Greg Tomb: Vivido develops cloud-based applications for driving and selling content and product information out to an enterprise sales force or channel. At Vivido, similar to what we are doing at SAP, success was based on enabling customers to quickly try these cloud-based applications, test the value in a low-cost manner, and then extend them across the enterprise at their own pace.

At SAP, we have a robust portfolio of cloud applications that cover many different departments, including sales, procurement, finance, and human resources. We’re opening up this simple consumption model en masse to our customers and the market, which, in turn, enables them to prove out the benefits in a fast and cost effective manner.

Where do you see SAP’s biggest opportunity in the cloud market?

The cloud application market will be one of the fastest growing software markets, and at SAP we have the opportunity to lead this market. We have more than 170,000 customers today that can benefit greatly from our cloud-based applications.

For those customers that are leveraging our SAP Business Suite, these applications can be used to quickly extend value out to a new range of business users. Products such as SAP Sales OnDemand or SAP Travel OnDemand can be “turned on” in days or weeks and provide almost immediate benefit.

And, for companies that are not currently SAP users, we have applications like SAP Business ByDesign that can be used as a full ERP solution in the cloud.

What is upper-most on your to-do list for 2012?

Our goals are very straightforward. We already have a great portfolio of products and we must now focus on market awareness, sales, and customer success. We have tremendous products with customers that love them. The key is now bringing the awareness to the entire customer- base so they can all benefit.

Where would you say SAP is strongest in on-demand compared to its competitors, and where does it have room to improve?

From a product standpoint we are heads above most of the other companies in the market. Our platform is robust and scalable. Our data centers are state of the art. Our cloud applications are the easiest to use in the market and have a people-centric design. This means that they are designed around an employee’s work life, maximizing productivity, and providing a user experience that is intuitive and enjoyable. On top of this we have made social collaboration a fundamental capability for all the SAP cloud applications.

Where we need to improve is around educating our customers, the market, and partners on this new breed of applications. We have made this a top priority and you will see us make great strides in market awareness and adoption in 2012.

How does SAP plan to translate its leadership in the on-premise world to the new world of cloud apps?

It’s in our DNA to build the best applications in the world. We have proven at SAP that as new technologies come to light, we can quickly adapt to be a leader and bring the best solutions to our customers and the market.

We have proven this over and over with client server technology, supply chain management, CRM, business intelligence, mobility, and now cloud-based applications. We are blessed to have a tremendous customer base that innovates with us and makes sure that what we build can bring value and scale.

Business ByDesign is the best-known of SAP’s on-demand solutions, but what else is in SAP’s toolkit and in development?

Our portfolio is quite broad and covers many different departmental users. Sales OnDemand for sales. Sourcing OnDemand for procurement and spend management. Career OnDemand for talent management. Travel OnDemand for travel and expense management. Carbon Impact for carbon and energy management.

In addition, we have collaboration applications such as SAP StreamWork for employee collaboration and Crossgate for company to company collaboration. Each of these applications is best in class in their respective areas. Each has been designed from the ground up to be easy to use and easy to consume. And each can be integrated easily with SAP on-premise applications or used as standalone solutions.

Oracle has been making a lot of noise recently around the cloud. What is different about how SAP is approaching the market?

I can’t speak much about the Oracle strategy other than their current message from OpenWorld seems to be old school and focuses on providing cloud offerings based on single instance, private clouds, requiring their stack of middleware products. We have provided private cloud options with our solutions at SAP for many years.

SAP’s cloud applications of today are well beyond this and provide speed to value, flexible consumption, and leverage multi-tenant architectures which enable SAP and our customers to adopt new functionality and innovation quickly and at low cost.

Salesforce.com recently said it plans to “‘unlock’ SAP’s core software for ‘social enterprises’,” saying that customers are challenged by SAP’s back end, “which houses their most critical data but limits data accessibility.” Comments on that?

SalesForce will always be challenged because writing and maintaining interfaces is costly for any company. With the strength of SAP’s Sales OnDemand application and the roadmap of functionality and new cloud applications SAP is bringing to market, enterprises get a much better answer all the way around with SAP. They get the low TCO, speed, and easy consumption model with the built in integration if they have an investment in an SAP backend system such as order management.

The cost of maintaining interfaces with SalesForce applications over the long-term will be exponentially more than the cost of Sales OnDemand integrating to other SAP applications and investments. In addition to cost, maintenance of the SalesForce interfaces becomes time consuming and reduces the speed at which new requirements can be adopted.

Why should customers look to SAP over similar offerings from competitors?

1. Ease of use. If you review products from SAP such as Sales OnDemand, Travel OnDemand, Sourcing OnDemand, etc., you will see a UI and people-centric approach with built-in collaboration that is light years ahead of other companies in the market. Our product teams at SAP have done a tremendous job at leapfrogging the competition — including “best of breed” companies — with our new portfolio of cloud applications.

2. Plug-in integration to SAP Business Suite that makes it simple to “turn on” and provides low cost to manage over the long term.

3. Leading data centers operated and managed by SAP.

4. Working with SAP, which brings the best talent, experience, and track record focused on enterprise scalable software.

Will in-memory computing such as SAP HANA have a big impact on what SAP is doing in the on-demand space?

Absolutely. HANA is changing the manner in which our customers interact with our applications. All the benefits in regards to speed, total cost of ownership, and innovation impacts our cloud applications in the same manner as the other applications in our portfolio. I expect that HANA will be a critical foundation for every cloud application by SAP in the future and will be another advantage that separates SAP from our competition.


In his new role at SAP heading on-demand sales, Greg Tomb will report to Rob Enslin, president of Global Field Operations and a corporate officer of the SAP Group. Tomb will help ensure that the needs for this high-growth business are addressed globally. He will also play a critical role as SAP expands the on-demand solution portfolio to additional applications for specific countries and industries.


Most recently, Tomb served as CEO and president of Vivido Mobile Inc., an on-demand mobile applications company and certified SAP partner that develops applications that enable enterprises to enhance productivity for their sales organizations and management. Prior to this work, Tomb held a number of senior roles at SAP, including president of SAP North America and executive vice president leading both the Field Services organization for the Americas and the Enterprise Sales organization in the United States.