The culture at SAP is diverse, international, and passionate. Luciano Ravenna, global vice president of Enablement Innovations and Partner Delivery Excellence in the Global Partner Enablement Organization at SAP, perfectly combines all three attributes.
In this interview, Ravenna conveys how he and his team are bringing enablement innovation and delivery excellence to life and provides insights of what is in store for SAP partners — now and in the future.
Q: Your ethnicity is Italian, your accent is South African, and you reside in Florida. How do these fit together?
A: I was born and grew up in South Africa in a family of Italian immigrants. Both of my grandfathers were captured during the World War II and transported to the prisoner of war camp at Zonderwater in Pretoria, South Africa. When the war ended in 1945, my grandfathers — like many of the Italian prisoners who were talented engineers, construction workers, and artisans — were offered permanent residency and a chance to start a new life. That’s when they brought their families over, and that was the start of my families’ life in South Africa. I moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2012, to lead the North American partner solution center.
What do you do when you are not leading Enablement Innovations and Partner Delivery Excellence?
I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and my two amazing daughters. We play tennis together and spend time boating, fishing, and going to the beach. Living in Florida, we enjoy sunshine all year round — with the exception of hurricanes. Personally, I consider myself rather a tornado: very passionate, very active in my daughter’s lives, and I am the weekend chef, cooking everything and anything, but mostly Italian and Indian cuisine.
How did your SAP career start?
I studied accounting and joined SAP in South Africa as an FI/CO Consultant more than years ago. I have held several managerial roles, with the majority of my time spent supporting and enabling partners. I was later appointed head of Presales for the SAP Africa market unit. In 2012, I relocated for the opportunity to lead the North American partner solution center. One year ago, I was appointed to my current role, with a strong focus on the Intelligent Enterprise, industry cloud, next-generation partnering demo experience, delivery excellence, SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions, and experience management.
Can you share your biggest achievements this year?
There have been quite a few but I’ll point out the two most important ones that are supporting partners in their next-generation partnering experience journey.
First, a major achievement in my current role was the build, launch, and release of the SAP Partner Demo Environment, shared option, engineered in an amazing one-team cross-organization approach. Partners have been struggling to build and maintain demo environments that can showcase the latest end-to-end intelligent enterprise capabilities across our portfolio. Today, they can enjoy free access to an integrated, pre-configured software demonstration environment to expedite sales conversations. This new shared demo environment brings the best demo practices and content from presales to the partner ecosystem, assuring a consistent story across direct and indirect channels. Since launch in June 2020, more than 560 partner companies globally have gained access, with close to 2,000 system users and over 1,600 unique script downloads for intelligent enterprise demos.
This is a key highlight for us and our partners. Partners that are leveraging the free partner demo environment have called it “simply awesome,” said it “saves us significant time in preparation for customer demos,” and is “perfect for us to position the Intelligent Enterprise.”
Second, earlier this year we made the intelligent enterprise ambassador program available to partners. The program is a combination of e-learning and instructor-led virtual trainings designed to enable partners to articulate the Intelligent Enterprise story with their customers and become their trusted advisors.
It goes without saying that these achievements could not have been realized without the tremendous effort and dedication from my direct team and the support of the enablement leadership team, as well as many other colleagues from the Global Partner Organization, presales, and partner licensing services.
How has COVID-19 affected you, your team, and your work?
The effects of the pandemic are impacting everyone around the world. Moments of extraordinary challenge are known to test our collective will. Personally, COVID-19 added some pressure, as the entire family was living and working from home. Though I am accustomed to working virtually, these circumstances made balancing my work and personal life challenging.
The pandemic stopped travel and in-person meetings, including large physical events. But it expanded opportunities to leverage digital technologies such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others, to have video chats and virtual coffee sessions, etc. Though we were physically distanced, we remained emotionally connected.
Initially the workload increased as we pivoted to digitize how we conduct business. To support partners, we delivered enablement sessions virtually, such as implementation bootcamps, via instructor-led platforms and tools.
What is your focus for the coming months?
We will continue to embrace the digital collaboration with our partners and deliver tools and enablement content to consume, aligned with SAP’s intelligent enterprise strategy. Building on that, industry cloud is creating new business opportunities with an integrated go-to-market model (learn more in this whitepaper).
We plan to roll out the Intelligent Enterprise for industries to all partner types. We currently provide an extensive collection of industry-specific content designed to partners with their thought leadership engagements. An industries toolkits for partners, consisting of industry-specific enablement packages, learning journeys, executive overviews, social media packs, and more, can be found in this predefined learning path with outcome-based guidance.
To help all partners become trusted advisors for their customers, and help their customers become an intelligent enterprises, we are rolling out a second wave of the intelligent enterprise ambassador program.
Our trusted partners are very well equipped to help customers achieve their outcomes. The Intelligent Enterprise learning room within SAP PartnerEdge will continuously provide learning programs to help understand and articulate the Intelligent Enterprise strategy, explanations and demos of components of the Intelligent Enterprise, links to learning journeys, and other enablement resources.
In the coming months, we are planning to add an additional 10 to 20 intelligent enterprise online demos to the SAP Partner Demo Environment. We also plan to continuously add to the more than 250 existing offline scenarios for partners in SAP Demo Store, which is 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.
How are you and the team engaging with partners?
Earlier this year, based on valued feedback, we have been taking steps to improve the enablement experience for partners. We want to enable them to deliver a world-class experience to our customers by providing delivery and implementation skills, best practices, tools, accelerators, and knowledge in order for them to successfully implement SAP solutions, help ensure customer satisfaction, and ultimately secure renewals and customers for life.
We know feedback drives change. The more our partners share their experiences with us, the more we can align our actions with their priorities. Our mantra is to listen, understand, and act on our partners’ experiences. So we ask our dear partners to be open with us. Telling us what we are doing well and what we can improve helps us continuously improve the partner experience.