Fueling Innovation In The Cloud

CloudWhen the topic of cloud rolls in during any business conversation, the benefits of lower up-front implementation costs, faster deployment, frequent updates and integration with legacy systems are typically front and center.

What often gets lost in the conversation is how rapid cloud adoption is transforming business.

While the cloud certainly offers a cost advantage, the real benefit it brings to business comes in two flavors: innovation and agility.  More than anything, the cloud is a platform for innovation.

Companies invest in the cloud not just to do the same old things using a different delivery model, but to create new engagement models through which they can achieve new processes and insights to run their business in an entirely new way.

Just as social networks, mobile devices and apps have made it easier for us to shop, share and consume, cloud apps have leveled the playing field and made it easier for companies to engage their employees, customers and partners on a deeper, more connected level. And innovative companies are using them to achieve business outcomes they never thought possible.

Take Brookshire Grocery, a Texas based regional food chain with over 14,500 employees and 152 locations. Brookshire used SAP’s cloud based learning management tool to move beyond simply educating its employees and created “Learn” – a branded leadership empowerment and resource network to link them more tightly with the company’s business priorities and deliver a better customer experience. Through “Learn,” employees have easy access to information and training on personal smartphones, iPads, and laptops.  As a result, their knowledge and job satisfaction increased, which in turn led to happier in-store customers.

T-Mobile, the wireless giant, is surrounding its core on-premise CRM environment with cloud applications to engage customers in a new model for social care. Rather than simply responding to customer requests through traditional channels, T-Mobile is actively listening to them on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere in order to improve their overall satisfaction and boost renewals.

Taking things a step further, the company is driving incremental sales by aggregating conversations around mobile devices and then following up with individual customers when the devices are available for sale.

Telus, a leading Canadian telecommunications firm, is using Jam, SAP’s social collaboration tool to break down silos and foster interactivity and connectivity among employees, across all departments. Similar to Facebook, SAP Jam allows employees to create profiles, share content, and work on projects collaboratively. It has become the systematic social glue that holds the Telus team together. Since implementation, employee engagement has increased from 53% to 83%.

Many Fortune 500 companies use Mediafly’s cloud-based platform to arm their mobile workforce with interactive access to secure company content on any device. As a startup, Mediafly was able to take advantage of the Ariba Network’s dynamic discounting capabilities, allowing buyers to accelerate approved invoice payments in return for discounts.  By transacting on the Ariba Network, Mediafly could speed the market-to-cash cycle by 50 percent. This clarity of cash flow management allowed them to project their business further out, and hire great people earlier in the cycle to get ahead of demand. Other potential advantages: increased efficiency of sales and marketing activities, improved order accuracy, gains in productivity, increased sales from new customers, and bigger wallet share from existing customers.

So while IT has its own reasons to move to the cloud, the real magic isn’t in the cost savings and efficiencies that it can deliver today, but the innovations it can drive to prepare your business for tomorrow.

Check out what it takes to be a customer-centric company and how SAP customer engagement solutions can get you there today.

Tim Minahan has more than 20 years experience in the technology industry.  He is considered a pioneer in business-to-business collaboration and was responsible for the strategy behind the Ariba Network, the world’s largest and most global business network. He is the CMO of SAP’s Cloud and Line of Business Organization and blogs frequently about the cloud and the impact on business today.