The SAP EcoHub has been live since October 2008. In just that short time, it has proven to be a fairly compelling online solutions marketplace, recognized by many of our early adopter customers, partners, and analysts as a potential catalyst to expose and provide access to the full value of the SAP ecosystem.
But a central question remains open for many of us:
- What is the relevance of the SAP EcoHub for the 1.6 million members of our SDN, BPX, and BusinessObjects communities? …
- What is our role in the SAP EcoHub? …
- What value does it hold for us as community members (more importantly, you) and the companies we work for?
SAP EcoHub Background
Let’s back-up a minute… and re-state for those who don’t really know what the SAP EcoHub is and does.
SAP EcoHub is the online solution marketplace where our customers, partners, and prospective future customers can discover, evaluate, and initiate the purchase of SAP and partner solutions. It represents a next-generation capability with significant benefits to all stakeholders who choose to engage with it, and has gained significant momentum since its launch. It has handled more than 100,000 page views and generated thousands of contacts in a few short months … contacts that will help us match customers and prospects to solutions that can fill their business needs, and to connect them with other customers who can provide insight into the quality and value of various solutions exactly when they need it most – during the investigation and evaluation period.
The odd name – SAP EcoHub – is meant to represent that these are solutions from the vast SAP ecosystem … including certified partner offerings, plus SAP, and SAP BusinessObjects solutions, whether “pure” or OEM or Solution Extensions or some other type of solution.
Here’s how the SAP EcoHub works:
- Partners publish their certified solutions to the SAP EcoHub thru a set of tools and platforms. It’s fairly straightforward for them to upload content, screenshots, demos, etc. If they need help, an SAP team member helps them.
- Prospective customers can then visit the resource online 24×7 and discover solutions by industry, by solution area (usually related to SAP apps), by searching, by narrowing the list to solutions available in their geographic region, by criteria such as “most popular,” or “most recently added,” by browsing thru featured solutions, and so on.
- Anyone can post ratings and reviews that describe their experiences with those partner and SAP solutions. The ratings are represented by stars, with five stars reserved for the best solutions, and one star at the low-end. The reviews can be short-and-sweet (a sentence or two), or very extensive – covering the purchase process; how easy was the solution to install, use, manage, and extend; how straightforward was it for end-users to use the software; was product support responsive; did the customer get the business benefits it expected when making the selection… just about anything relevant that the reviewer wants to comment on.
- Prospective customers can then evaluate the full range of solutions, look up data sheets, view on-line demos, watch videos of the product in use, see one of its users describing or navigating-thru the experience, assess peer feedback, download detailed product and technical information, review certification details, verify availability by region and applicability by industry, and get real-world success stories from actual customer users.
- If that prospect is interested in learning more, a contact is generated when he or she clicks on the “demo,” “contact me,” or “buy” button on the specific solution page. Those contacts are handled by SAP and/or passed to the partner (and available in a really cool partner dashboard) in order to follow-up and fulfill the request — either to pursue a sale or simply provide more information.
And here are some of the benefits to the various people and companies involved:
For our customers, SAP EcoHub brings together the right information, at the right time, in a convenient package for them to make smart, informed buying decisions around SAP and partner solutions by offering:
o Accelerated Discovery – to quickly identify partner and SAP solutions relevant to their specific business needs
o Power of Insight – to evaluate solutions they have short-listed by tapping into the feedback, opinions, and ratings of peers, partners, and experts within the SAP community
o Trusted Engagement – to rely confidently on verified partners to schedule onsite demos, provide additional information, or assist with the purchase and then implementation
For our partners, SAP EcoHub offers a new channel to showcase their solutions online though an easy-to-use interface. It also facilitates a new channel for direct dialogue with potential customers resulting in quality leads and solution sales. The connection with the customer community also gives partners direct and straightforward feedback from our joint customers so partners can improve their current product offerings, and also to recognize whitespace opportunities for future features and products to meet emerging market needs.
And, of course, there are benefits to SAP for managing the SAP EcoHub as a customer, partner, and prospect resource … accelerated time-to-value and expanded solution benefits make our customers happy and loyal to SAP as their trusted partner, an expanded footprint in our customer accounts thru additional certified partner offerings gives us a stronger presence, and SAP EcoHub is an efficient model, a channel with global reach, high impact, and very few distractions for our colleagues in the field and other organizations.
The Differentiator is You … Your Experiences and Insights
But what makes the SAP EcoHub unique in this space, and far more interesting than a boring, two-dimensional product catalog, is the power of community… specifically, its ability to deliver trusted insights from real people.
You and other members of our communities have a critical role to play in making this a reality, in the same way that all of your contributions have made the SAP Community Network the success it is today. Our communities work because they serve primarily as platforms and channels designed to capture, distribute, and amplify the voice of the people — of our customers, partners, independent consultants, and others — in a knowledge marketplace where previous experience, deep expertise, and trust are the currencies we use to assign and exchange value.
Given that as background, developers, consultants, business analysts, business users, and IT managers have the power to influence purchase decisions made by prospects who are searching for solutions on the SAP EcoHub. You have practical experience integrating, extending, and managing these solutions, and potential buyers are very eager to hear from you … much more so than they are interested to hear the (some might say biased) opinions of the purveyors of the software. So, chime in – we know that community-driven input can influence entire markets a la “Cluetrain Manifesto.” I also invite you to read this blog, Using the SAP EcoHub – A Customer’s Viewpoint from SAP Mentor and customer Karen Tillotson of Valero, for a real-world customer perspective.
As a customer and SCN community member, you can make your voice and opinions heard by rating the solutions on SAP EcoHub, and especially by reviewing them with comments on your experiences. You can also blog about these solutions or the SAP applications (CRM, ERP, SCM, SRM, HRM…) they extend. You can comment in discussion forums related to those solutions and apps, add to wiki pages on these topics, author articles and whitepapers about them… And all of this adds to the value your fellow customers and partners receive from a truly community-powered SAP EcoHub.
If you work for an ISV partner with a storefront and products on the SAP EcoHub, you can enhance your presence and drive traffic to your solutions by adding the richness of blogs, forum posts, and wiki pages authored by experts whose insights will add value to, and resonate with, the members of our communities. You can also encourage your existing customers to rate and review their experiences with your product/solution, as this will be valuable information for any prospective new customers considering your solution.
Points Reflect Value and Appreciation for Sharing Your Opinions
In our SCN communities, we exchange “points” for value; in many ways, these points are our currency, which we use to highlight, recognize, and reward the sharing of knowledge, and to thank the individuals who openly and willingly share that knowledge with others.
Because your opinions and experiences with SAP and partner solutions are valuable to others, and in recognition that it takes a little bit of time and effort for you to share them, we have added points to SAP EcoHub ratings and reviews. Now, when you share your insight with others regarding SAP EcoHub solutions, you’ll be awarded 25 points per rating/review. This is our way of saying “thank you” on behalf of the larger community for sharing your thoughts with customers, developers, analysts, and other IT and business people. The accumulation of points are tracked by individuals and companies, indicate their level of expertise and their degree of engagement, and are part of our “top contributor recognition program” which runs annually.
What To Do Next? What Are We Looking For?
My colleagues and I at SAP (and within partner companies) are interested in several things…
Please comment on this blog regarding your views and opinions of SAP EcoHub itself.
- Is it easy and intuitive to use? Are there features or capabilities you’d like to see added or expanded? Is the content – text descriptions, screenshots, data sheets, video, etc. – the right mix and depth?
- Does it provide value – greater awareness of relevant solutions, depth of information on those partner and SAP solutions in order to evaluate them, a simple process to request information or further contact?
- Is there something we should add or change to encourage even more richness (quality) and quantity of customer / user feedback? Have we missed other links to related sources of information (beyond relevant blogs, forums, wiki, articles…)?
Please comment within the SAP EcoHub about the listed solutions…
- For example, have you used, installed, or operated Vistex Incentive Administration, Neoris Active Suite, HP’s LoadRunner, Nakisa Talent Visualization, Adobe Interactive Forms, Crystal Reports, or solutions by SmartOps, F5, Vendavo, or one of the hundreds of others?
- If so, share your thoughts… Was it easy to install? Straightforward to configure and integrate? Was the solution complete? What are the “best” features in your opinion? What’s missing in functionality? How does it compare with other solutions you evaluated? Is it easy to run / operate? Is partner product support responsive? Are your colleagues – business users and IT – happy, lukewarm, enthusiastic, or appreciative?
- Your comments will help make SAP EcoHub really “community-powered” – and this is what makes it distinctly valuable.
Please tell someone you work with about SAP EcoHub…
- Do you know someone at your company who is – or should be – considering any one of these listed solutions? Do you think an un-met need your company faces could be met by one of these certified and endorsed solutions? If so, please spread the word. This “getting started” page might be a good place to begin.
I hope it’s clear that all of us, as members of the SAP communities, have valuable and valued roles to play in the SAP EcoHub. I invite your feedback and your comments on the platform/channel itself, but more importantly on the specific solutions you’ll find listed. And by sharing our collective experiences, we will realize the full value of this community-powered marketplace.