SAP.info: You’ve led ASUG through an impressive transformation in the past three years. How has the organization changed?
Bridgette Chambers: Five years ago we were struggling – underperforming and the brand was in jeopardy. We wanted to remedy not just the organizational issues, but transform from volunteer-led to a professionally managed business. We reengineered into an efficient, innovative, customer-focused company capable of leading SAP customers towards operational excellence and innovation so they can create market leadership by using SAP solutions.
What top three things have you learned from this experience?
First, we have to embrace and seek customer feedback. Our customer advisory councils make sure the innovations ASUG commits to and the investments we make are based on real-time customer demands. Second, we keep it simple. We focus on things we know we can do that will deliver value to SAP customers, like providing timely, relevant insights via ASUG News. Third, we keep the business fun. Our strategic partners, employees, volunteers, and 140,000 members are very busy. We work hard to make ASUG activities fun, social, and interactive. This keeps participation and satisfaction high.
Customers have so many networking venues these days. Why is ASUG worthwhile to join?
Customers want everything that SAP has built into the brand promise today, as well as an innovation path to solve tomorrow’s problems. They want cost-effective licensing agreements for cloud and mobile solutions. SAP HANA provides real-time insights to drive competitive advantage. But real-time means different things to different customers. That’s why ASUG is so important. A customer community helps people avoid costly project failures, and instead implement quickly to make SAP easier for less technical stakeholders so they can get the most out of their SAP investment.
As SAP evolves with innovations like in-memory computing with SAP HANA, mobile, and cloud, what does that mean for ASUG members?
Customers have more opportunities to be the best by consuming the mobile and cloud solutions SAP offers. HANA unlocks insights from data so they can be that business of the future. Our Integrated Enterprise program helps customers understand the strategic side of innovation without disruption. The Infinite Return on Investment program helps customers learn how to innovate on the SAP platform to solve problems and create new product opportunities. We’re working with SAP Value Engineering to create a second generation look at return on investment for customers as they commit to a path of innovation on their SAP platform. As SAP innovates, we’ll be there to help show customers how to use it today, and be forward thinking to stay ahead of their industry with what comes tomorrow.
Next page: Education around SAP HANA is a top priority
How will the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA impact customers?
There has been a tremendous amount of excitement and interest among our membership about SAP HANA since 2011. Two of our board members were early adopters and have shared their lessons learned. Education around SAP HANA is one of our top priorities. In 2012 we launched our Strategy Builder series, with four webinars dedicated to the topic, to help members gain insight and competitive advantage. This announcement ratchets up customer enthusiasm and member questions to another level. Now SAP has to show customers the way forward with clear technology road maps so that there’s as little disruption as possible for those who want to embrace the new innovation.
You and ASUG have had a remarkable year already with a total of three 2012 American Business Awards. What can members expect in 2013?
We have significant improvements planned for ASUG News, adding interactive ways for customers to network and share experiences. Our Leadership 2.0 Program, a grassroots approach that nurtures the leader in everyone, is expanding. If you’re working with SAP and have all the resources you need for a perfect project, but your leadership skills aren’t solid, you won’t get all the right results. Newbies can learn the fundamentals. Seasoned pros can refine their skills. Additionally, we’ve relaunched the ASUG.com website, and members can expect revolutionized search, expanded gamification, and mobile capabilities in 2013.
What would you say to SAP customers who haven’t yet joined ASUG?
You don’t want to do this alone. SAP is the world class provider of software and solutions, but solving big business problems can be complex. Participating in ASUG can simplify the process by allowing everyone in your organization to share insights on everything from maintenance and co-innovation to future product road maps and how technology trends impact SAP’s presence in your landscape. SAP, more so than any company I’ve worked with, wants to please their customers. SAP wants happy, profitable, market leaders and is committed to using a customer connection like ASUG to helping customers drive success. I invite anyone reading this to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll welcome them into the community with a trial membership.