In my tenure as solution manager for SAP’s on-demand line of business offerings, I have seen cloud offerings and on-demand solutions take on a life of their own. The popularity of these offerings have grown in leaps and bounds an account of benefits such as cost savings, the elimination of upfront capital investments, faster time to value, and a subscription based pay as you go model.
The on-demand solutions that we are building here at SAP are not merely new deployment models for old solutions and strategies; instead they represent a fundamentally different way of looking at the world. We tore everything apart and rebuilt a brand new solution from the ground up; one that embodies a core philosophy of creating solutions that revolve around peopleas opposed to processes.
Sophisticated software certainly plays a critical role in managing and optimizing complex process chains, and robust software is an SAP trademark; but we believe that the lasting success of a new solution can only be achieved by putting people, the end user up front and central.
In my opinion, three key ingredients come together to create our highly effective on-demand solutions:
- Person-centric Focus: Our goal is not to make software more effective, but to make people more successful. This powerful idea permeates our product offerings at every level. Our solutions have been designed to adapt to the way people work, and to leverage collaboration elements inherent in the cloud to enhance efficiency and productivity. We believe that software should adapt to the need of people, not the other way around. Traditionally, software has at best been process-centric, requiring end users to adapt and adjust the way their work and think. Often, using a new system was a frustrating or time-consuming process, driving down the rate of adoption. Our success is measured by the enhanced productivity and success of our end users.
- Intuitive, easy to consume products: I believe that the user experience is where the rubber hits the road. Easy to use and exciting products in the consumer world have blazed a trail and set a high bar for user expectations. We are laser focused on meeting those expectations, and providing our users with attractive, intuitive and easy to consume products that serve up an inviting and appealing user experience. Busy professionals need to focus their energies on their core jobs, and should not have to waste time grappling with complex software. Our products are designed to enable even the most casual user to get up and running quickly and painlessly, while meaningful, easy to use solutions keep users coming back for more. A great experience drives up both adoption and usage rates.
- Business relevance: Enterprise applications are meaningless if they are not able to address key underlying business objectives. I feel very strongly that the ultimate goal for any software is to provide tangible and consequential business solutions. Our systems have been created to provide quantifiable value to specific lines of business like sales, procurement or HR. Business value can be measured, and relevant solutions translate into quantifiable benefits such as productivity gains or time and cost savings. Relevant solutions designed for to address specific lines of business such as procurement, sales, HR etc have a direct impact on the bottom line of an organization.
We have built certain features into our applicaions to ensure that our solutions continue to remain focused on people:
- Customers included in design and development cycle: It is mission critical for us to deliver the right solution from day one. Switching costs in the on-demand world are low, offering no room for error. Our customer feedback mechanism goes well beyond the basic pro-forma dog and pony show. We have a comprehensive co-innovation program in place, and involve customers in our development journey from the very start. We work hand-in-hand with our co-innovation partners on a regular basis, to understand customer pain points, and incorporate those insights into our product development and features. Co-innovation partners are included every step of the way.
- Rapid Iteration: Cloud technology makes it possible for us to deliver innovation at a faster rate. It allows us to monitor what features are being used, and also allows us to deliver enhancements seamlessly and rapidly. The ability to track and monitor usage in real time is invaluable information, and allows us to fine tune the product and features on a regular basis. We are now able to keep the applications fresh, and tweak features or functions regularly, and offer upgrades in small chunks as opposed to massive rehauls every other year. The nature of SaaS allows us to pinpoint relevant functions immediately, and enables us to stay on top of market changes and retain competitive momentum.
- Enhanced Feedback Channels: Simply put, we make it really easy and seamless for customers to provide us feedback. Feedback channels are provided directly within the application, making it extremely convenient for our customers to provide feedback any time a thought pops into their head. We encourage, almost solicit these insights in real time, and I consider this immediate evaluation to be the most valuable and unbiased. An ‘after the fact’ feedback mechanism, tends to be biased, as it is heavily skewed to users whose experience lies at an end of the satisfaction spectrum (they are either extremely happy or very upset). I see this as a unique opportunity to get engaged with our customers, and believe that it sends a message that we are receptive to an open, honest two-way communication.
Our on-demand solutions are truly revolutionary, not merely an evolution of the existing on-premise solutions!