Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Christian Horak

What I learned at SAPPHIRE about Cloud story telling

Hi folks,

as SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid has come to its official close with the keynote of Vishal Sikka, talking about “HANA, the logical platform”, thought I’d write a few words to summarize what I personally learned (or got remined of) about our cloud story telling over the past 3 days.

  • We still have a bit of work to do to make our overall Cloud story even easier to understand
  • Making the story easier to understand is not necessarily accomplished by leaving out details or by making the story more “high level”
  • Our Cloud story itself is great, but we have to tell it in an even more relevant way to the respective “point of departure” of the specific audience
  • There is no one-size fits all presentation or story

Content only becomes relevant through context

Here is what I mean specifically:

  • Many large Enterprise customers running SAP today will have a primary interest in making the best use of what they already have. We need to be inclusive of that situation in our positioning and go-to-market, and tell them about a 3-step approach consisting of (a) virtualization and cloud management of their existing environment to achieve infrastructure cost savings and agility, (b) deploying well-integrated Line-of-Business applications such as SuccessFactor HR solutions, Ariba solutions, or small focused cloud apps such as SAP Travel OnDemand or SAP Sales OnDemand, to extend the reach of their existing investments, and (c) deploying complete cloud solutions such as SAP Business ByDesign or SAP Business One OnDemand to roll out a 3-tier ERP model to affiliates or subsidiaries. Sometimes it is quite possible do all three steps in parallel, but the right approach will differ with each customer and by situation.
  • Smaller and Midsize Enterprises, which typically do not have a large IT department or staff, are most likely to ask for an easy solution, and will most likely be confused with all the talk about virtualization, platforms, multi-tenancy, integration, SaaS, Paas, IaaS and so forth. They will want to hear about complete solutions, preferably tuned to their specific type of business or industry, and delivered by a business partner in their region.
  • Solution and Service Partners typically mostly care about the business model (in other words the question: “How do I make money?”). While the product is important, of course, it’s much more important how the product supports their model of value creation. Specifically, Value-Added Resellers and Independent Software Developers (ISV) will have a lot of questions about the underlying platform, development environments and interfaces. The typical enterprise customer does not really care about the platform, but will definitely care about solutions characteristics such as capabilities, localization, security, release cycles, add-on availability etc.

Businesss have only one thing in common: they all need to be different

In a high-intensity, compressed format like SAPPHIRE, you typically try to make your presentations all encompassing and high-level enough to fit all of the above use cases. And when you talk to influencers including press, analysts, bloggers and user group leads like I typically do, will be confronted with questions across the whole spectrum dozens of times per day. By creating the “all-singing, all-dancing” slide deck, we create a high risk of not doing justice to any one specific audience in enough detail. Or, on the converse, risk by overwhelming the audience by providing too much detail in some areas. This is an inherently tricky problem for product marketing, and can really only be solved by engaging in a conversation, starting with a question, as opposed to one-way communication.

I think have made great strides in shortening the presentations, focusing on interactive micro-forums, hands-on demo stations and all kinds of ways to enable conversations. And while things are already much better, simpler, more visual and more interactive, I think we (and I fully include myself) still have ways to go to improve the story-telling aspect of talking about Cloud even more. Maybe the ultimate goal should be that we don’t even have a Cloud Campus at the next SAPPHIRE, but try to ensure Cloud has become an integral part of every other campus? Maybe we should strive to tell the cloud story in the context of industry, in the context of roles, and in the context of business type, to make sure people understand that …

Cloud is not an option, but simply the next step on how IT is done.

Note: Remember, this is just my point of view.

I’d be interested to hearing from you about this idea, and how you think we can be more effective in getting across how our cloud portfolio can really transform the way people do business, no matter if they are working in large or small company, or if you are making technology, or simply wanting to enjoy the consumption of great services.

CHHO, Madrid, 15.11. 2012

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo J. Pazahanick
      J. Pazahanick

      Good job with this Christian as I liked how you laid out the various types of customers and options available.

      Author's profile photo Christian Horak
      Christian Horak
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks, yeah, I am working with my team to make sure we address the various roles and requirements. Blogging is a great format to do this in, since we can get "realtime" feedback from the experts as opposed to running a production cycle on a brochure etc that's pretty much obsolete the minute it runs off the presses ... With innovation running at this pace, our collateral has to become just in time, role-based and collaborative, to the extent possible

      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson

      Hi Christian,

      Good write-up. I think it will only be a few years before Cloud is absorbed into everything else. Each LoB will sit under their own areas. Either we'll get the 5 pillars that are now in the Cloud strategy, or we'll get individual LoB. I guess you'd have a more informed opinion than me 🙂

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Christian Horak
      Christian Horak
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Luke, yeah lets see and have a dialogue on this. I pretty much think of Cloud as an evolved version of the Internet, and we did not have an Internet campus either. Remember E-Business, E-Commerce? Hype is gone, but the innovation continues and will be absorbed fast. My prediction is that it will go very fast. Next year, if you don't have  cloud story for your Line of Business fully folded in, with hybrid deployment, you're gonna look like yesterday's news. What I think we should be doing is to drive the integration between TechEd and SAPPHIRE even further, and plan along technical and non-technical roles and industries, and then present the full story for each role with cloud and on-premise being pervasively woven in. The current layout of SAPPHIRE is driven around a hierarchy of concepts, each with its own campus, but I think we might want to think about communities for roles, i.e. the CIO summit, the Marketing Village, the Sales Camp, Factory of the Future, etc. where people can go, get the full experience and then can book a guided tour to the product stations. ..

      Just thinking/typing loud really ...

      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson

      I think some organizations are too immature from a Cloud perspective and I think merging too soon can go two ways: alienate or confuse organizations that don't understand, or accelerate understanding.

      Once more organizations have a greater understanding of what Cloud and SaaS are, I think it is safe to merge them. But lets not beat around the bush, SAP have not been so clear in their Cloud strategy to date and a lot of customers - and analysts - are not clear on the strategy. Customers are incredibly confused about what SuccessFactors is and what SAP's strategy is. Merging it all together now will further confuse customers.

      Author's profile photo Christian Horak
      Christian Horak
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Luke I agree for the short term. There is still a lot of education and explanation ahead. Maybe next year it will be hybrid, in that we still have a cloud campus, but we also ensure people really see an end to end story in each of the other campuses, so they can look at it from an industry and Line of Business angle. Maybe I'll ping you next June and we'll see how things were shaking out!


      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson

      Feel free! 🙂