In this exclusive interview, Andreas Heckmann, global senior vice president and head of Support Delivery for SAP Digital Business Services, looks back at SAP’s incredible support transformation and ahead to what’s in store for intelligent enterprises in 2018 from innovations like machine learning and embedded support.

Andreas Heckmann, global senior vice president, head of Support Delivery at SAP Digital Business Services

Q: What are you hearing from SAP customers about support in this era of digital transformation – any major epiphanies?

A: Many customers describe their journey as one of becoming an intelligent enterprise. Everyone has new expectations from the resultant changes that encompass both technology and people. Core business processes, traditionally called mission or business critical, are turning into real-time processes. Running 24/7, 365 days a year, companies have a much lower tolerance for unplanned downtime and performance problems; they are dependent on real-time availability. We’re also seeing a workforce change with generations X, Y, and Z moving up the ranks. In addition, business partners are working together with IT experts as customers flock to cloud-based solutions.

Considering the business hurdles customers face, what are the top priorities every company should demand from support in 2018?

First, customers need support that moves away from traditional reactive mode to proactivity. Problem avoidance uses new self-healing technologies. If support sees that something isn’t right, customers should expect us to act and fix it.

Second, the new workforce wants more choice in support channels, including self-service rather than interacting with an expert. When a customer does interact with experts, they want to do it live.

Third is support that’s built into the product so customers can get the expert they need without leaving their working environment. They shouldn’t need to go to another portal, make a phone call or write an email.

Fourth, in the increasingly complex intelligent enterprise environment with multiple technologies, support must provide a one-stop shop so customers aren’t scrambling to figure out who to talk with for immediate answers.

How is SAP support meeting these new expectations?

We are constantly double-checking everything that we’re doing. For example, we redesigned the SAP Support Portal to make it more user-friendly and intuitive for a mobile-first world. Now whether a customer uses a browser, iPad, or smartphone they easily receive the information they need. The SAP ONE Support Launchpad, which is accessed on the portal, provides customers with a highly personalized experience. Despite having greater functionality in the launchpad, customers see less when they log on because the information is focused on what’s most relevant to them.

Equally important, we introduced real-time support options. Customers can select the Expert Chat button to quickly reach the most experienced support person available on the topic. With our Schedule an Expert service, they can also schedule a time to speak with an expert, like making a doctor’s appointment with support to talk at their convenience.

Can you share some examples of business outcomes customers have experienced as a result of SAP’s transformation?

Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Expert Chat is a great example. Traditional tickets took several days of back and forth between SAP and the customer to final resolution. Today’s average chat session duration is about 30 minutes, and we’re solving two-thirds of cases that quickly. Already strong, our customer satisfaction levels with Expert Chat service and Schedule an Expert are sky high. We’ve also made the knowledge from our thousands of support experts searchable via Google. To date, millions of customers have viewed our support-created SAP Knowledge Base Articles.

What can customers expect from SAP support in 2018?

We began providing a public view on the cloud service status of our solutions with the SAP Cloud Trust Center. We also provided customers with a personalized view of availability in their cloud environment for the first set of solutions in the Cloud Availability Center, which we plan to expand to more products in 2018. We plan to offer more channels and choices to customers, including extended tasks on mobile devices, and a new mobile app for support. Machine learning is another area we’re very excited about, with algorithms and chat bots on our development road map. We’re currently using algorithms to solve known problems, and exploring chat bots for more complex support issues. Our engineers are using machine learning services internally, testing and training the systems and algorithms before giving to customers. We’ve piloted beta tests of built-in support for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and plan to move into additional cloud solutions in 2018, adding new functionality with quarterly releases.

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