SAP.info: SAP has set very ambitious goals for its ecosystem strategy, including aiming for 40% of its software revenues to come through partner sales. How does Partner Service Delivery (PSD) support SAP’s mission for its ecosystem?
Denis McGauran: To achieve our goals, SAP must grow its partner ecosystem, simplify the working relationship as much as possible, and ensure that partners embrace SAP’s innovation portfolio. PSD is actively involved in making all three of these happen. The most important driver of this is the customer. Customers want mobile solutions; they want to see what they can move into the cloud; they’re interested in crunching Big Data and extracting true business intelligence. Our partners need to think similarly and PSD is committed to enabling our partners to ensure they meet these evolving customer demands.
A key differentiator in how PSD operates is that we build a specific enablement plan for the partner. We review with the partner their business plan and ambitions, and we form an agreement with the partner where they need to increase their knowledge and capabilities. Once this is in place, then we deliver the services to execute the plan.
Early in 2012, PSD launched a new partner service portfolio aimed at providing partners with tools and resources to grow their SAP business. What has been the partner feedback so far?
It’s been excellent. People have consistently viewed PSD as being very capable at handling operational, administrative, and program queries from the partner community. We’ve built a very strong reputation on that. The key challenge in 2012 was in moving beyond that. So, we built a number of services focused on driving the partner’s business instead of just reacting to their issues.
One major initiative is around our Partner Quality Program, which has reached over 600 partners to date. These partners are seeing fewer escalations, improved implementation time scales, reduced costs, and a true business benefit. That’s something our new service portfolio has presented to partners in a scalable way.
Another major area in our service portfolio is driving partner adoption of SAP Rapid Deployment solutions. PSD works closely with the SAP Sales and Solution Center teams to provide a range of services where we proactively reach out to partners who have solutions that they want to market as SAP-qualified Rapid Deployment solutions. We take partners from the very beginning of the process to the very end – right to the point where they’re up and running, live on SAP’s EcoHub, and marketing their solutions.
These are just two examples from many where PSD is leveraging a scalable inside delivery model to drive partner growth.
Next page: What does “partner enablement” really mean?
We talk a lot about “partner enablement” at SAP. For some this term may still be a bit abstract. From your perspective, what does partner enablement entail?
Enablement is the how. So, take an example I talked about earlier, Rapid Deployment solutions. If a partner is interested in packaging a solution, the obvious question beyond that is how? That’s what enablement is. It is enabling the partner to take advantage of the identified commercial opportunity. In PSD we have a huge network of experts – solution experts, go-to-market experts, and process experts – available behind us in the wider SAP organization. And we make those connections happen in a very efficient, structured, and scalable way.
During 2012, PSD set up resources to enable partner specialization. Why is specialization so important?
I think as the global IT market continues to grow and expand in so many directions, the biggest risk to a growing business in the IT sector is actually growing too quickly and in too broad a way. So, partners have to be able to recognize where they are strong, where they can compete, what their unique selling proposition is, and continue to focus on that area and only move beyond that area in a very structured, tight and coordinated way…in a way that the business case is actually demonstrable and makes sense.
And that requires specialization. Without that specialization, if partners spread themselves too thin or if they try to do everything themselves, they won’t succeed in the long term. It’s in our partners’ interest and SAP’s interest to educate and work with our partners – to help them identify and grow their specializations in a very careful manner.
PSD has made a strategic decision to expand the role of the Partner Service Advisor (PSA) as a partner touch point within SAP. Why is the role of the PSA so important?
Once again, the approach we take is around enablement. The PSA “virtually” sits down with the partner and builds an understanding of the partner’s capabilities, where they’re specializing, where they’re investing in their business, and then works with the partner to build a tailored enablement plan that fully draws on all the resources SAP has available to meet their needs. Our PSAs are often seen by the partner as a counterpart within SAP, somebody who is actually taking the long-term view, indicating to them not just what is needed in the next quarter, but guiding them through what developments are planned for our solution portfolio in the next year or two. That strategic level of the relationship with the PSA is critical to a partner.
Next page: What’s planned for 2013?
SAP has built up substantial support centers in various regions around the world. How do these regional centers factor into PSD’s mission?
To build relationships with partners across the globe, we have to recognize our partners need support from people who understand their languages, their competitor markets, their culture and are available in their own time zones. That’s why we have our people in PSD available to them through regional centers that provide a necessary crossover between the scalability that’s required globally from SAP in terms of how we drive profitable enablement of our partners, and having a degree of the local touch – a local feel to the relationship.
2012 was a pivotal year for PSD. From your perspective, what were the successes?
I think the key successes were that we’ve really changed the ethos and the DNA of the team. Not just in the context of the people in the team, but also the perspective of other people at SAP. We had built up a reputation around operational efficiency, and now we’re actually tapping into that operational efficiency to drive ways to have a measurable business impact.
If you put five partners in a room and you enable them the same way, the output of each of the five will probably be quite different. Although there is an element of truth here, it doesn’t really change the importance of continuously measuring the return on investment of what SAP puts into enabling its partners. Our whole approach to building our services with business impact in mind for our partners and for the company, rather than just being a reactive helpline available to our partners, has been the single biggest success of PSD in 2012.
As we enter 2013, what can partners look for from PSD? Do you have plans to expand the service offering? What areas will PSD emphasize?
I think one thing we have learned from 2012 is that we have to balance specialization with our reach. PSD has been extremely successful because upwards of 7,000 partners in the SAP ecosystem have regular touch points with PSD. And for many of these partners, we are their primary point of contact. However, we’ve also learned that each of these partners needs specialized knowledge at certain points in their development. So, I think what partners can look forward to from PSD is that we are re-evaluating and re-formulating our strategy to completely widen the pool of specialized experts that will be available to our partners in a one-on-one basis.