One year ago, Steffen Burger was announced as the Next-Generation Partnering leader for Partner Enablement in the Global Partner Organization at SAP. Bolstered by an unrelenting commitment to partner success, he and his team embarked on a mission to transform the partner enablement experience and the way partners learn, working to ensure the SAP ecosystem is ready to deliver a world-class experience to customers at every stage of engagement.
Here, Burger looks back at the last 12 months of Partner Enablement at SAP, reflecting on the accomplishments, the challenges, and the direction going forward.
Q: Congratulations to you and your team on a stellar first year. Can you tell us more about the journey so far?
A: The last year kept us very busy, with the ongoing pandemic requiring us to accelerate the transformation to remote and digital partner enablement. We put the long-term enablement strategy in place, and now we have a great story to tell about global partner enablement at SAP. I am very proud to lead an extraordinary team of individuals whose work has had a tremendous impact so far.
This past year we have been focused on bringing the Next-Generation Partnering initiative to our ecosystem, helping our partners innovate, grow, and deliver exceptional experiences. Partners are more relevant than ever to SAP’s success because our partner ecosystem has the potential and capabilities to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise to our customers. Providing our partners with the best-in-class enablement in the industry is not only a competitive advantage for SAP, but also helps ensure that our partners deliver a world-class experience to their customers – every single time.
Can you talk about the key focus areas for the last 12 months? How has the partner learning experience transformed as a result of addressing these?
We set ambitious goals that are driving us forward and taking partner enablement to another level. This past year we took significant steps in addressing these goals.
First, we focused on providing a one-stop-shop for partner enablement consumption within SAPPartnerEdge.com, where partners can easily access all enablement content. Through this platform, we launched over 160 Learning Journey guides. These are role-based, according to the individual resource needs of our partners, and go beyond normal classroom training, with experiential learning and hands-on coaching. We cover the entire SAP solution portfolio.
In addition, we launched more than 35 pre-defined learning paths with outcome-based guidance for partner C-suites and decision-makers. This allows partners to effectively identify the enablement needs for their teams’ individual roles, and the required investment into learning secures their business decisions. They can increase or change their footprint within the SAP solution portfolio, build implementation quality, demo excellence, package their customer offerings, as well as keep their skills current and up to date.
And it goes without saying that our partners’ input is fundamental. This year, we established a continuous listening and improvement cycle as part of our Next-Generation Partnering initiative, including a partner enablement experience survey. Having received over 6,000 responses, we are committed to acting on the feedback to deliver the best experience going forward.
What do you consider as some of your biggest achievements, and how do you measure them?
We have had a jam-packed 12 months of development in Global Partner Enablement.
For me, SAP Global Partner Summit Online was one of the peak moments of the year – not only because our team was heavily involved in the execution of the event, but also because we launched some of the most pivotal Next-Generation Partnering initiatives in the partner enablement and experience space. The event itself was a huge success and had more than 16,750 registrations and 11,500 attendees on the day. In addition to the fantastic keynotes, SAP CEO Christian Klein joined to echo his belief in and the commitment of our ecosystem to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise together.
We introduced a shared option for the partner demo environment, which gives SAP partners free access to a new shared demo landscape with dedicated enablement, to expedite sales conversations and demonstrate the power of the Intelligent Enterprise. This is a major milestone and a key highlight for us and, ultimately, for our partners, and I am very proud of what the team has achieved. Since the launch in early June, more than 695 partner companies have completed the mandatory training, of which more than 440 are already demoing in the shared option for SAP Partner Demo Environment.
At the same time, we are extending SAP’s commitment to share resources to support our partner business and their customers. From July 1, SAP partners meeting the criteria can get free access to test and demo systems on SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Business ByDesign for 12 months.
Our partners deliver 90 percent of SAP projects to our customers. The quality of those services is critical to customer success. Within the partner delivery quality framework, our team provides the tools and enablement support partners need to enhance project quality, build consultant capacity, and safeguard the delivery of partner-led customer projects.
As we experience the effects of COVID-19, what is your team doing to help build the path to business resiliency?
Now more than ever, agility, innovation, and the ability to redesign and sharpen business processes is crucial to business health and future competitiveness. It is imperative that software implementation projects can be delivered swiftly, without risk, and with a clear and predictable outcome and fast ROI.
Many of our SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions already contain offerings that are highly relevant in our “new” world of social distancing – such as remote learning, improved analytics, and increased supply chain elasticity and efficiency. These solutions are combinations of market-leading SAP software and a partner’s services and intellectual property, creating a unique and highly targeted offering. Currently, there are more than 1,100 solutions created by over 440 SAP partners to choose from.
In addition, to help midsize customers resolve the current challenges quickly, recover, and build resiliency for the future, we identified 16 solutions based on a predefined scope that can be delivered by partners remotely, with implementation in days or weeks rather than months, with low to no project risk. Based on this relevance, more than 140 partner packages are ready to be consumed by customers in the COVID context.
The transformation to digital partner enablement accelerated dramatically in the last months and, going forward, virtual partner enablement will be the new normal. From an enablement perspective, we responded to this need and offered virtual sessions on how to use digital tools on a daily basis to meet, interact, and collaborate virtually as well as on best practices to create engaging virtual training content with Zoom technology.
Looking ahead, what can SAP partners expect?
In 2020, our team has been recognized and rewarded for our work and our cross-collaboration capabilities. Going forward, we are committed to delivering what our partners ask of us and need the most, helping them to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise for our joint customers.
Delivering the best enablement experience to our partners can only happen if we continuously demonstrate and deliver excellence by ensuring all our partners are provided with the right capacity and competencies. We also must lower the costs of partnering, including cost of learning, and offer the same demo capabilities to partners as SAP presales.
For instance, our plan for the coming months is to add up to 20 intelligent enterprise online demos to the SAP Partner Demo Environment. We will also continuously increase the number of more than 250 existing offline scenarios for partners in SAP Demo Store – packed with the latest technology innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. In addition, service partners can expect higher value coaching to deliver successful implementations to their customers.
With SMEs accounting for about 80 percent of our customer base, we understand their need to optimize and simplify IT processes. We will deliver an intelligent enterprise story to SAP Business One and bring intelligence and automation to fast-growing cloud midmarket businesses with SAP Business ByDesign. Helping customers become intelligent enterprises will require the right combination of technology and expertise from SAP and our partner ecosystem, who are uniquely positioned to deliver the intelligent enterprise strategy and message.
Industry cloud creates new business opportunities with an integrated go-to-market model. Building on the Intelligent Enterprise strategy, SAP is putting resources into expanding its vertical solutions and investing heavily in the partner ecosystem – both in enablement programs as well as development efforts. Partners can leverage this momentum to focus on building vertical innovations and deploying them much more easily and efficiently, together with the industry-specific SAP solution portfolio.
Partner enablement will be a core component of the new partner program, especially around competencies – like rewarding and recognizing partners’ investments in high-quality delivery practices that drive customer adoption – cross-border certification, readiness transparency into SAP for Me, and the SAP partner finder.
How did you personally experience the last few months, and how has your own daily life been affected?
I am convinced that COVID-19 has changed all our lives, and it is on each of us to take away some positive gains on the private and business sides. In the very first phase, it was about securing health and keeping the lights on. Then, we quickly switched gears to transform the services to our partners to help ensure we add the same value in a remote environment. Partners´ responses to that were very encouraging and rewarding. The digital way of delivering our job will give us a maximum of scale. Once the pandemic is safely behind us, we look forward to meeting our partner family in person and maintaining our trustful relationships.
During the lockdown, I learned how to be more flexible at balancing my time between family and work. In the future, I will travel less and work from home more often for a healthy mix – that’s a gain for my personal life!
What do you do when you are not leading Global Partner Enablement at SAP?
There is a very simple answer to that question! As a father of three children, I spend and enjoy as much time as possible with my family – sharing a good meal, sitting at the table with the entire family, or enjoying a good bottle of wine with my wife and our friends.