In my article a few weeks ago, I touched on how small, innovative improvements can add up to massive transformations and huge gains down the line. For us within the Customer Solution Support & Innovation team at SAP, many of these incremental changes are derived by listening to you, anticipating your needs, and delivering on them within our SAP solutions.

Let me describe three big examples of innovation developed to make your lives easier: continuous updates that are no longer disruptive to the business; artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that produce more precise search results; and real-time support at your fingertips that is built into your application.

Continuous Updates That Are No Longer Disruptive

System updates are important as they provide new or improved functionality, enhance stability and security, and enrich the user experience. However, what’s been a challenge in the past for on-premise software is the downtime, test efforts, and spike in system issues that often followed a bigger release cycle. For cloud solutions, you should – and already can – expect ready-to-use, manageable updates with minimum disruption.

With the SAP Cloud ALM solution, our application lifecycle management platform developed on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), we solved that issue by introducing “deploy with confidence” as a new way of how we develop this solution. Deploy with confidence works to increase developer productivity and helps ensure high quality while delivering daily system updates. From a technical side, it incorporates many development tools to help automate the daily deliveries of multi-microservice software-as-a-service applications like SAP Cloud ALM.

All this allows us to provide regular feature updates to SAP Cloud ALM with daily deployment and enables a robust lifecycle without disruption or downtime. Additionally, as our teams are in continuous exchange with customers using SAP Cloud ALM, we can quickly bring their feedback into the solution to further improve our software quality. Introducing deploy with confidence as the development method for SAP Cloud ALM is a great example where we as a team leveraged innovation to increase productivity and quality while at the same time lifting customer experience to a whole new level.

AI and Machine Learning: More Precise Search Results

Continuous updates are one thing. What about using technology to get answers faster? With companies working in a faster-paced digital world, making decisions and finding answers also need to move faster. This is also the case when business processes aren’t running as expected.

Think about yourself and if you are someone who prefers to find answers on your own and not wait on support to respond. You’ll be happy to know we have various ways to help you find the right answer. When you search in SAP ONE Support Launchpad or “SAP for Me,” you can get an increasingly personalized search experience that considers the topics most relevant for you. As this applies machine learning to improve search relevance and we are continually optimizing our knowledge base for better discoverability, you’re more likely to get the needed answer instantaneously – listed as a proposed solution within the first bunch of search results.

When you actually contact SAP support directly, your request and all of its context, such as system and product information, text input, and soon even attachment data, are evaluated in real time by a highly optimized, AI-powered algorithm to provide you with precise solution recommendations. This Incident Solution Matching algorithm helps to make sure you are shown the best available solutions even before you send a ticket to SAP or start an Expert Chat session. This helps reduce your effort to solve the problem.

Real-Time Support and Answers at Your Fingertips

It’s definitely an advantage to tap into modern technology for finding the answers you need. How about the convenience behind it and having answers at your fingertips? One of the things we’ve learned from research and talking with customers is how annoying it can be when you must drop everything you were doing and leave your IT workspace to raise a ticket in a central support portal. This meant you would need to rethink what you were doing when the issue came up and where it happened. Plus, you needed to enter all the contextual information the portal doesn’t have, such as the system where it happened or the application you were using when running into problems.

We’ve made this obsolete and convenient: Built-In Support is available in many of our cloud solutions and can be used right away, if needed. It’s a click of a button to ask a question, search for solutions, get tailored recommendations for your problem, or to just report an issue. Built-In Support knows where you were working when the issue came up and what you were doing when you got the error message. Through the usage of AI and machine learning technologies, the tool either already finds possible answers while you are typing in your issue, or it pulls together the necessary information for the support engineer. This is a more personalized support experience tailored to your specific situation. How convenient to not need to post a ticket elsewhere or explain your situation.

And even better, this click can get you connected in a real-time chat or a scheduled appointment with a support expert. You can more quickly describe and resolve your question or problem – avoiding the ping-pong back-and-forth happening through a traditional ticket resolution. Talk about a way to free up time and resources to focus on the business.

On top of this, Built-In Support will evolve towards bi-directional communication: if there’s a brand-new solution to a critical issue in the application you are currently working with, why not get it shared with you right away? And if there is supporting information around a new or changed feature in the app you might have questions about, why not see it published proactively before you run into problems? This is exactly the future-looking direction of Built-In Support. Tailored to every screen of your application, it can proactively provide you answers and solutions and not wait until you run in to a problem and need to report it. Built-In Support is ending the one-way communication. If we know a customer has a problem but isn’t yet aware of it, we’ll proactively take care of it.

In Summary

All this sounds smart, right? Let me summarize my key messages to you. You’ve learned that SAP system updates are important as they bring you new functionality, but they don’t need to be disruptive. Finding answers to your support problems is just as quick as what you know from a regular Web search. And finally, you’ll experience the convenience of having support at your fingertips and getting your support questions and issues quickly worked out without needing to leave the application you are working in.

I hope I got you excited about some of the existing support innovations that will further improve your support experience. And we’re not stopping there. We’re already working on more great things.

Andreas Heckmann is executive vice president of Product Engineering and head of Customer Solution Support and Innovation at SAP. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.