“On-plan and on-budget.” In the past, if you met these targets in projects or ongoing IT operations for your customers, everyone was happy.
Today, that is simply not enough. Whereas IT used to be seen as a cost factor, technology now drives the value chain. “On-value” has become a criterion for customer success.
This is the view held by Derek Prior from Resulting IT, an independent SAP consultancy in the UK. He looked at the importance of SAP MaxAttention premium-level engagement for SAP customers and presented the results of his study at the 2020 SAP MaxAttention Summit, which took place November 9-10.
SAP wants its most strategic customers to gain from its own transformation as a company.
He concluded that SAP Services played a pivotal role in sustaining customer success. SAP MaxAttention helped companies generate value-based outcomes – and innovate incrementally – again and again. Businesses with their own Global Center of Expertise (CoE) are best placed to do this.
But there is a message of caution here, too. Namely, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. Too much has happened in the last few months. Paul Kurchina, who has many years of experience as an independent SAP expert and guru of the SAP scene in North America, recommends that customers look very closely at their Global CoE models.
When describing the most significant change, Kurchina said, “Remote business has become the norm.” That might mean that neither a company’s CoE concept nor its tool landscape is equal to new, emerging challenges.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first SAP MaxAttention Summit in the era of Customer Success was a virtual event this year. Presenting in tandem, Prior and Kurchina interacted adeptly to create a compelling online exchange.
Adaire Fox-Martin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and head of Customer Success, explained that SAP had brought all its customer-facing services and sales roles under one area.
“Our name is our mission,” Fox-Martin explained in her welcome address. Under the new organizational structure, some 40% of SAP’s workforce was now focusing directly on customer success by following the LACE (Land, Adopt, Consume, Expand) operating model – though the “customer first” mantra, of course, applied equally to all of SAP. According to Fox-Martin, SAP was unique among its peers in the way it has organized to make customer success its key mission.
Having opted for a strategic partnership with SAP, SAP MaxAttention customers in particular need to consistently “feel” the benefits of this close cooperation in the shape of business outcomes.
As the subsequent presentations showed, that is exactly what is happening. In 30-minute slots, long-time SAP customers spoke about how they benefit from SAP’s premium engagements – in a variety of ways.
With help from SAP, an industrial conglomerate from Turkey has made a slew of improvements after embarking on its digital transformation. These include productivity and efficiency gains in multiple divisions. The company has driven costs down and minimized risk while increasing employee satisfaction and improving its environmental footprint.
According to its chief information officer (CIO), almost all of the company’s 850 individual projects have been completed, and it now has around 40,000 SAP users working with products that include SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors, and Qualtrics solutions.
An operations manager from a telecommunications company reported on his experiences with SAP MaxAttention. The telecommunications giant switched to SAP S/4HANA Finance in under two years, implementing various cloud solutions –– SAP Concur and SAP Ariba software among them –– at the same time.
An urgent need for real-time reporting coupled with mounting volume issues were key reasons for transforming the in-house enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, EVO. By achieving optimal levels of standardization – an 84% improvement – and automation – a 73% increase – the company now has better control over its hybrid IT landscape, while adding refinements to accelerate month-end closing were still ongoing.
For their part, IT experts from a multinational IT company provided initial insights into their cooperation with SAP on business operations self-healing. Here, they plan to use chatbot technology to more rapidly remedy errors commonly made by its internal IT users and implement a more consistent approach to automating routine tasks.
Innovations like these are possible because SAP often trials and enhances new ideas together with customers – and thus in the real world.
In this context, Peter Harkin, senior vice president of Premium Engagements at SAP and host of the 2020 SAP MaxAttention Summit, announced the founding of the Intelligent Enterprise Institute, where customers will be able to work together in various labs on new processes and much more. EMEA North has been selected as the pilot region for this cooperation.
Harkin also announced extensions to the SAP MaxAttention portfolio for 2021. These include back-office SAP applications and the Mission Control Center.
With regards to expanding its technology for the benefit of customers, SAP would be investing chiefly in the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and its components, according to Anja Schneider, head of Customer Innovation in the SAP Technology and Innovation board area. She described technology as integral to customer success.
“Technology is a value driver,” said Shane Paladin, president of SAP Services. But he added that the benefits could only be reaped if the technology was utilized in the right way, which made it even more crucial for SAP to gain customers’ attention and position itself as a trusted advisor. “Trust is the default of moving forward,” he said.
Both Schneider and Paladin advised customers to keep their core systems clean. Any specifications and enhancements they required could be integrated through the SAP Cloud Platform as part of the SAP BTP.
Bring on the Feedback
A highlight at the end of each day was the executive session, in which SAP managers answered questions from attendees.
One of these questions related to “cloud-only.” Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE responsible for product strategy, explained that this was not yet an option for SAP. With demand for on premise still strong, particularly in the ERP segment, SAP was sticking to the principle of “cloud-first.”
When asked how SAP measured its customers’ success internally, Fox-Martin referred to the Net Promoter Score and user feedback. She stressed that one of the reasons why SAP’s strategic partnership with its SAP MaxAttention customers was so important was that it was a source of firsthand feedback. Also, programs had been set up to evaluate joint key performance indicators (KPIs) for SAP and its customers.
Addressing the issue of customer criticism, Harkin confirmed that SAP had responded and structured the contract for the New SAP MaxAttention offering more flexibly. Initially, the extensions to the portfolio had been met with a positive response – the complicated rules less so. But SAP had remedied the situation in the meantime.
“I hope we’ll be able to meet face-to-face again next year,” Harkin said when closing the event.
Even the best virtual event is no substitute for personal contact.