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The real nature of the business cloud is hybrid. The beauties of cloud solutions like fast on-boarding, availability everywhere, and scalability to my Business and – of course – end user experience is one side of the coin adopting a cloud solution… The other side of the same coin is a strong connectivity to your system of records (like ERP) for data and process consistency.

Why should a business user care about data and process consistency? Good catch, this seems to be a very technical discussion. But it isn´t, because business user might not care about the technical way of integration but they care about a single source of truth, they care about accurate Data: “I can rely on what I see”.

There have been a lot of customers during the past month mentioning the same experience when it comes to cloud. Some solutions initially do the job for the Line of Business user, but at a certain point in time people realize they can end up in a one-way-street and that consistency was lost.

Let´s make it more tangible:

SAP Sales OnDemand as a cloud solution designed for the Sales Hunters – collaborative, people centric AND consistent. (check here). Designed for people that are focusing on customers – anytime, anywhere. They are a very specific group of people with very little tolerance against inferior user experience. Their € or $/day is significant, everybody wants them spend as much time with their customers and prospects as possible.

A perfect target group for a best in class cloud user experience… Now, the “customer” in their system is exactly the same customer that gets an invoice, receives a quote, and is managed in distribution logistic after deal closing.  Want to manage the data twice? No way in Web2.0 century.  But how do you create a real 360-degree account view for the account owner?

This is what Sales Rep want and need. “What´s going on at my customer? What deals are cooking, which escalations do we have, what has been invoiced last month, which campaigns have been executed?”

To solve that problem, there are two possible ways: Deliver a full-blown ERP in the cloud or smartly connect the cloud Sales OnDemand solution with an ERP backbone. Let´s assume in the long run both solutions are an option, but let us focus for the time being on a smart integration.

Standard data container in an A2A connection ensures master data is exchanged, bi-directional. Web services trigger processes like quotes or pricing requests in the corresponding systems and send status information real time back into the cloud solution. And going forward an additional cloud mediated integration enables customers on nearly any backend release to book a ticket on the cloud train.

Depending on the industry there is lot of information a sales person has to rely on to do business and run a network. During the last couple of month our CoInnovation team (see link) met with many customer and discussed use cases. This is essential to do it right.

Some examples to illustrate the most prominent use cases:

  • We talked to customers in B2B2C business. Their sales people can only rely on last month invoicing compared to a rolling 12-month. The majority of businesses run these core financial services today in SAP.
  • Another example is a B2C client, who needs stock management at the Sales Reps fingertips – to commit a delivery date during the onsite visit.
  • A service oriented client, who wants to enable real time 360-degree view of service requests and pending escalations for the sales teams, actually best before the Sales Rep enters the customer’s site.

The boundaries between cloud and on premise are rather blurred boundaries, hybrid. But the requirements follow a simple pattern: Get things done. NOW. Check a customer story.

By the way, another thing that makes Sales people the ideal target group for Cloud. Innovation.

Sales people like to always be on top and play with the latest and greatest. With classical On Premise release timelines some customers are behind in adopting our latest innovation, because they are on older releases. Cloud changes the game. In cloud environment customers are always on the latest release. If we add In Memory technology to OnDemand – the customer has it. If we add the latest Mobile devices – the customer has it. If we add the latest Analytics – the customer has it. And derives value NOW.

Mobilizing the sales force is another good example. SAP Sales OnDemand recently received another innovation award for the native iPAD application. Sales people love this app. They don´t want to start the LAPTOP, connect to VPN and post an update after the customer visit or later at home. They like to switch on the IPAD (2seconds), have immediate access and post their updates. This is what kicks it up a notch.

This is definitely another learning from our co-innovating engagement: The Speed of Innovation and the new end user experience does differ significantly from the reputation of the past. It´s great we can surprise our customers and prospects – bring this to them and let the customer WIN.

Bert Schulze (@BeSchulze) and Sven Denecken (@SDenecken)

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Part I – Connor McCloud or why is the nature of the business cloud “hybrid”

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