Customer Success in Digital Transformation Does Not Have to Be One Giant Leap for Mankind


An SAP customer in the telecommunications industry said, “We are now embracing new technology and driving efficiencies through digitalization, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) as we are evolving into a more innovative and agile organization.”

This statement clearly highlights the importance of technology as an enabler for the digital transformation of companies. But helping customers succeed always starts with the customer, not technology.

In times of COVID-19, businesses and entire industries are more disrupted than ever as they try to adjust to the new normal, making digital transformation an even greater opportunity to innovate and find new ways to effectively and efficiently work with customers.

IDC forecasts that companies will invest US$2.3 trillion in digital transformation efforts by 2023. The question is how to become an intelligent enterprise that embraces agility, fosters nimble ways of working, and maximizes the value of digital technologies to help organizations evolve even stronger from these unprecedented times.

Embracing a Mindset Shift

The answer lies in a mindset shift around business outcomes rather than rapid adoption for the sake of innovation.

A McKinsey Global Survey evidences this idea and suggests that the only way to transform is through unyielding focus on a clear set of objectives: “With successful digital transformations, […] organizations keep efforts focused on a few digital themes — that is, the high-level objectives for the transformation, such as driving innovation, improving productivity, or reshaping an end-to-end customer journey — that are tied to business outcomes, rather than pursuing many different agendas.”

Companies must realize that technology alone doesn’t spur a successful transformation; it’s the calculated and guided implementation of technologies that help move a business toward specific outcomes, objectives, and customer experiences.

Adaire Fox-Martin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Customer Success, suggests that companies should realize that the customer is focused solely on outcomes, and businesses should do the same when pursuing a new mindset during digital transformation.

“Customers do not come to SAP to buy technology. They come to buy outcomes and value,” she says. “The whole premise of Customer First is about keeping our promise to deliver valuable business outcomes to customers.”

This mindset shift can be seen within SAP as we undergo a transformation resulting in a Customer Success board area that has a resolute focus on the success of both customers and SAP employees. The team maintains an unwavering commitment to providing extraordinary experiences while recognizing the unique business demands of each customer.

Choosing the Right Partner to Drive Business Outcomes

Organizations are looking for partners to lead, advise, and shape this journey together with them and ultimately drive their business outcomes. “SAP plays a pivotal role in enabling us to achieve our transformation goals by providing the core platform and its maintenance and service support as an enabler for that,” highlights an SAP customer in Australia.

Partnership, direction, and knowledge are also important for SAP customer Poongsan Corporation, an international copper manufacturer based in South Korea: “With expert support, Poongsan built a detailed, step-by-step road map to optimize and accelerate its migration to an intelligent ERP. Now, everyone – from our planners and operators to our developers and IT architects – is prepared to execute toward our digital journey.”

Customer First and the resulting engagement create an environment where customer outcomes become the overarching focus. Being able to bring tangible direction and action driven by the customers’ data and insights places any organization in a strong position to move its digital transformation forward.

Identify Opportunities to Innovate, Improve, and Maximize Value

By working with companies that can inform innovation and business process improvements, such as SAP, priorities can be set on relentlessly driving business outcomes. The SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder service for SAP ERP provides an interactive, simple-to-consume report with all of the personalized opportunities to optimize business and IT processes. This way, stakeholders are on the same page and have a calculated plan to tackle transformation head on.

Using services from SAP Enterprise Support and the pathfinder report, paper pulp maker CENIBRA in Brazil wanted to accelerate its digital transformation with a next-generation business suite: “Using SAP Enterprise Support, we are preparing the ground for a successful migration to SAP S/4HANA. And we now better understand the wide-ranging benefits our new digital core will bring to the business.”

BYTON, another SAP customer, builds fully connected electric cars from the ground up. Its goal is to bring a new level of intelligence to the smart car by marrying automotive engineering with digital innovation to create a next-generation driver experience. With a focus on innovation and speed, its digital transformation needed a capable partner: With deployment guidance and follow-up support, BYTON reduced the IT costs of its digital transformation by at least 10 percent.

These customer examples show that transformation requires a mindset shift, relentless focus, and the right partner with experience and capabilities – and does not have to start with massive shifts in focus. And sometimes a starting point can be found closer to home. SAP delivers an opportunity to easily obtain insights about innovation, business process, and IT potential. From this, priorities can be set and focused on to drive business outcomes. The insight is delivered by SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder for SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA, a simple-to-consume, interactive next-generation report free of charge for every SAP maintenance customer. It addresses different stakeholders in the organization to get everyone on the same page — an important starting point for every transformation.

For a more detailed understanding, see SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder At a Glance.

Thomas Spandl is the senior vice president and head of M-GTM at SAP.