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Hello SCN!

 

I’m Kurt Bilafer, and my job is to champion SAP’s Business Analytics solutions with our Ecosystem and Channel Partners. Together with you, our customers and partners, we’ve built an incredible Ecosystem over the past decade. The strength of that Ecosystem is nowhere more evident than here on SCN. SCN has already had a big impact on the way we do business at SAP, and I’m excited to be here talking to all of you.

 

My official title is Global Vice President–Analytics, Ecosystem & Channels, but you can call me ‘the guy with the BHAG’ (Big Hairy Audacious Goal–this is SAP, so naturally we have an acronym). In case you haven’t heard, one of SAP’s goals is to reach one billion users by 2015. That means we have to roughly double the number of SAP users between now and then. It’s one helluva quota, and we’re gonna need your help.

 

A little about me: I’ve been around the Analytics space a long time. In the ‘90s, I worked for a number of analytics providers and in 2003 I re-started a company called Pilot Software.  In the late ‘80s, Pilot had developed one of the first client/server BI systems, and 1 year after the restart we had created an industry-leading performance management solution called PilotWorks. We sold the company to SAP in 2007, and PilotWorks became SAP Strategy Management, which is now part of the Enterprise Performance Management portfolio within Business Analytics.

 

I stuck around SAP for a while, but as you can imagine the transition from entrepreneur to contributor at a multi-billion dollar global enterprise wasn’t an easy one.

 

But if you love the Analytics space like I do, SAP is a very exciting place to be. I came back to SAP in 2010, and held numerous roles around the Analytics organization most recently National Vice President for Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Solutions for SAP North America (longer title, but smaller quota!). In that role I traveled around North America talking to our customers, prospects and partners about what they love and hate about our products.

 

My current role is a brand new role at SAP, which says something about our commitment to changing the way we do business. I report in to Eric Duffaut, SAP’s first-ever President, Ecosystem & Channels.  This is the first time we’ve ever had the entire Ecosystem reporting to one executive, and it’s already making a difference. I also have a dotted line to Steve Lucas, Global GM & Senior Executive – SAP Business Analytics & Technology at SAP. So, I’m connected to SAP’s past and it’s core, and stationed right in the cockpit with the leaders who are steering us into the future.

 

I’m fired up about this job. I carried a sales bag for many years, so when we launched SAP HANA and signed up a large number of customers within a few days of going General Availability, it got my attention. It would have taken me a year at Pilot to get the traction that HANA got in 2 weeks! But that’s not what I’m fired up about. That’s early traction from hard-core SAP shops. We’re not going to get to a billion users selling Analytics just to our installed base.

 

To get to a billion, we’re going to fundamentally have to change the way we do business. That’s what I’m fired up about, and that’s where you come in. We can’t do it without you.

 

In the past, SAP basically sold software products directly to IT. For the most part, we had a tactical relationship with our partners. As implementation specialists, you competed on price to make our software work for each business. And our Value Added Resellers were relegated to selling in spaces SAP didn’t want to sell or can’t effectively compete. This has changed. We are now firmly committed to investing in and growing this Route-to-Market.

 

Going forward, we’re bringing our partners in earlier, and strategically, to create products together that marry SAP’s technology with your domain and subject matter expertise. It’s an exciting new value proposition that promises to improve time to value and help customers reduce the total cost of ownership and generate significant incremental value from their SAP investment.

 

My job is to help unleash the tremendous power of the EcoSystem for the benefit of everyone in it, and extend its reach to people who have never done business with SAP and our partners before. It’s already starting to happen, and I’ll be reporting on it here regularly from the front lines.

 

Buckle up!  It’s going to be a crazy ride!

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14 Comments

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  1. Alvaro Tejada Galindo
    Kurt! Congratulations! I’m sure you’re going to hell of a good job…and BTW…at first I thought you we’re talking about me, as BHAG looks pretty similar to BLAG at a first sight LOL

    Greetings,
    Blag.

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    1. Kurt Bilafer Post author
      BLAG – thanks for the comment.  I was sorry to see that you were taking a sabatical from the Mentor program but look forward to having you back soon.

      Kurt

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  2. Michelle Crapo
    Doubling SAP user base.  That seems like it could be a hard thing to do.

    The economy is struggling in many different places worldwide.  The companies that are not struggling could be consolidating – less employees.  Lower fees.

    So the question – Is SAP’s Ecosystem & Channel the next value accelerator?  As a customer, SCN is huge.  Not just with me, but with my co-workers.

    SAP has been hitting Youtube hard.  It is even there in the tool I use slideshare.

    It’s on Facebook.  Twitter.  And more that I probably don’t know about.

    This may not be the Ecosystem you are referring to – if so, then ignore the comments.

    Here’s my thought – again could be irrelevant, it is late at night for me.  When new products come out CRM,  the platforms they work best with, or just plain work with should be detailed.

    The horror stories of SAP implementation has slowed to a crawl or stopped. That will help.  So some negatives are removed.

    I’m on different mail lists.  It might help if SAP provides those as well, more push than pull of information.

    Reaching a new smaller / Midrange Company?  Someone will rarely come to SCN without an SAP installation.

    So how do you reach them?  I’m sure they have sites forums for these companies.  They don’t want a sales pitch on those forums.  Contact customers that had good experiences and can join the group.  They can blog / write about the SAP experience.  No marketing, but just a nice piece about how SAP solved a problem.  This will help me as a customer find a new user group.  It will help SAP grow that Ecosystem.  Open a new channel.

    Even having someone reading posts  there might help.  If you can help solve XYZ with an SAP solution then you get your foot in the door for more of SAP.  The problem is always keeping the cost down.  Cloud?  Bydesign?  I think these will help.

    Some late night thoughts,

    Michelle

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    1. Kurt Bilafer Post author
      Michelle,

      Thanks for the comments – let me take a stab at providing some meaningful responses.

      To me the ecosystem is everywhere and anywhere that our customers, prospects, partners, influencers, developers and end users exist.  SAP needs to help the ecosystem understand that we aren’t just for big companies but that we can also help Small and Medium size enterprises get up and running quickly, so they can focus on running their business.

      I believe we try to provide recommendations on preferred hardware/software to achieve optimal performance – but we very much believe in customer choice.  We do not want to dictate which DB, OS or hardware platform a customer should be running with – this of course creates some support and performance issues.

      In regards to mailing lists and staying current on what is going on – careful what you ask for, SAP has numerous email newsletters – there are some here on SCN and others on sap.com – I think you just need to sign-up for the ones you are most interested in.

      Lastly, I completely agree that we are not going to reach new customers on SCN – but we also need to make sure that our existing customers understand our approach to evolving SAP and that they understand we are committed to their success.  SAP has recently started focusing more on customer testimonials/videos as a way to spread the word about how SAP can help companies run better.

      it’s going to be a journey but we can’t do it alone – we need our ecosystem.

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      1. Michelle Crapo
        Great response – Thank you!

        Our lists – I’m on many of them are really not what I was thinking about.  I’m thinking about something like Sue’s Workflow one.  An interactive forum in an e-mail format.  We’ve lost that with having our forums.

        Yes, of course, I do watch forums as well.  And I get e-mails when they change.  But it’s still not the same as a click to reply to all…  Just thinking.  I know some people don’t like that.  And some people will think, why we have the forums. 

        We do need our EcoSystem.  It will be fun to see how you promote it!  It’s going to be a BHAG, just as you said.

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  3. Gregory Misiorek
    Hello Kurt,

    you have chosen an excellent way to introduce yourself to the community at large. since i’m not much of a developer, but spent most of my career in IT, i have an interest in all that makes my customer set jobs easier.

    analytics is way up there with the promise of HANA to calculate (sum?) any data that comes its way from anywhere, but most probably from ECC (R3,BW,etc).

    mobility (notifications) and social tools (twitter, etc.) seem to be new variables which were not around when R3 and Pilot entered the corporate IT, so embracing those new tools makes it different this time.

    i look forward to seeing more content from you and your team on SCN.

    rgds,

    greg

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    1. Kurt Bilafer Post author
      Greg,

      Thanks for your comments – unfortunately I’m not very technical but as an active consumer of these solutions and their information, I think it’s key that we make it easy for passive users to get the answers they want, anywhere, anytime on an device.

      If you want to see the latest example of where SAP is headed just checkout Streamwork – I use it every day and expect that SAP, it’s customers and ecosystem will soon as well.

      Kurt

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  4. Bhanu Gupta
    Thank you Kurt for writing this blog and reaching out to the community. You mention “we’re bringing our partners in earlier, and strategically, to create products together that marry SAP’s technology with your domain and subject matter expertise” – How can a partner be aware of opportunitites, how do you pick and choose strategic partners, what can partners look forward to regarding technology support…just looking for a bit more information in this area.

    Regards,
    Bhanu

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    1. Kurt Bilafer Post author
      Bhanu,

      Great questions.  Typically we make partners aware of these Co-Innovation and collaboration opportunities through Partner Edge or their partner manager – with over 3,700 partners it’s hard to ensure that we have reached everyone but we try leveraging the ecosystem infrastructure as best we can.

      In regards to what we look for in our partners – I’d have to say it depends.  If we are launching a new solution we often look for partners that have experience in or around that market.  For other solutions we make look at a partner bench, domain expertise, geographical presence or their willingness to co-invest with SAP and our customers.

      Lastly, as we formalize more co-innovation programs you should expect SAP to provide training and enablement as well as technical resources to help the partner can successfully develop and extend the reach of the underlying SAP solution.

      If you have any areas that you are specifically interested in, please let me know – there is a lot going on around Business Analytics & technology.

      Kurt

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      1. Bhanu Gupta
        Appreciate the prompt and detailed response Kurt…personally interested in areas of EPM, Business Analytics and Mobility. But I am not a partner 🙂 I will pass the information to a partner company I know who have just come out with their first offering in the EPM space.

        Regards,
        Bhanu

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