A year ago, SAP brought together the Services and Customer Engagement & Experience teams to form the Cloud Success Services organization. The group helps customers achieve value from their technology investment. Its president, Claudio Muruzabal, shares more here.

Q: The business environment is challenging right now. How can Cloud Success Services help customers through these hard times?

A: We are all navigating through the global challenges and predictions of what 2023 will bring. Our customers will need to continue to focus on being more efficient and effective, as well as more competitive, and technology plays a role to support them. Cloud Success Services supports them as they realize and maximize the value expected from their SAP technology — now and throughout the lifetime of the customer engagement. This is not just about supporting the adoption and consumption of our solutions or selling SAP services to support our customers; it’s about bringing decades of proven expertise to bear on behalf of SAP in order to help deliver outcomes for our customers.

Q: Some larger customers start with a “technical” transformation and “lift and shift” their SAP ERP Central Component systems to the cloud. Could this be a successful strategy?

A: If a customer moves its existing landscape — SAP ERP Central Component, for example — to the cloud using RISE with SAP, that customer will realize value by improving efficiency and reducing the cost of day-to-day business operations. Moving to SAP S/4HANA provides simplified access to data, improved user interfaces, and overall agility to the business

However, full transformation only happens when you take a closer look at your business processes and find ways to optimize and transform them. Here is where emerging technologies such as process management, mining and optimization, process automation, and artificial intelligence allow for improved value realization. Our customers are seeing significant additional value from these investments

Q: What does applying emerging technologies involve?

A: Process optimization is critical, and SAP Signavio solutions are the right tool to embark in this journey. Next is applying process automation capabilities to improve the way those processes work. And then leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to make them smarter and even more efficient over time.

In parallel, the aim should be to create what we call a “clean core,” a core system that is not customized and can easily be upgraded in the cloud. Whatever development is needed on top of this is built using SAP Business Technology Platform. That’s the journey we help customers pursue. This is not just about having a clean, consistent enterprise architecture. It is anchored in creating business value by allowing for new functionality to be brought to life faster while maintaining an efficient operation.

Q: Business transformation is not a one-way street. What part do customers play in making the journey successful?

A: Digital transformation is a business imperative. It is not about technology refresh, but ensuring that there is true economic contribution of the adoption of technology. This is why it is so critical to focus on process optimization, which leads to building a clean core architecture for the business.

Achieving success in this journey is a joint effort among the customer, the partner ecosystem, and SAP. In fact, we in Cloud Success Services have introduced a new simplified portfolio of services aimed at supporting the customer in this journey. We can meet the customer where they are. Our portfolio also allows for supporting our partners so as to “deliver with” them, accelerating customer value.

Q: A recent survey of members of the Japanese, American, and German-speaking SAP user groups found that while cloud will become the standard, on premise will also remain extremely important. Does SAP focus too much on the cloud?

A: While we need to be very respectful of the investments our customers have made in our on-premise software over the years, it is very rare to find a customer that does not see the value of the cloud. It’s not so much about one model versus the other; it is about finding the right path to get you to the destination, which eventually is having the core of your operations in the cloud. What we have done with RISE with SAP is create a platform to accelerate that process, making it easier for customers to set out on their transformation journey.

Q: SAP launched a reimagined services and support portfolio in April 2022. Can you tell us about it?

A: It’s a simplified portfolio of all the expertise built up by the SAP Services organization over five decades. We’ve standardized a wide range of offerings that help customers onboard, adopt, and consume SAP technology — from first use to full use to future use — and scale effectively so that their investment nets them the benefits of becoming an intelligent enterprise.

Q: Given that partners manage more than 80% of SAP customer projects, how have they reacted?

A: We have made it very clear since we set up Cloud Success Services at the beginning of 2022 that our role is to deliver together with our partners. This means providing valuable enablement services to our partners that help them address customers’ needs in a consistent manner.

Having said that, we have to respond to our customers, and increasingly they want us to continue to be involved in helping them unlock the potential of their SAP investment. But we have no intention of replacing our ecosystem; on the contrary, we want to increase the value that the ecosystem brings to the table.

Q: More and more support functions are being automated. Can we expect the same to happen with services?

A: Telemetry and product insights play a key role in ensuring our technology is successfully adopted, and it will be a big part of how we deliver services in the future. They enable customers to understand how they are using the product. When customers can access the basic information they need to onboard, adopt, and consume products in an automated manner, our experts have more time to assist them gain maximum value from our solutions.