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There has been some fascinating press coverage recently on SAP’s cloud strategy and the reported lack of understanding of the strategy from SAP customers. This raises some serious questions on how SAP needs to clearly articulate its strategy to customers and the benefits for customers in coming with SAP on their cloud journey. But I don’t thinks its one way traffic, if as a customer or prospect you want help or clarity in understanding SAP’s cloud strategy then please don’t be afraid to ask!

/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/273905_l_srgb_s_gl_161387.jpgYesterday SAP was platinum sponsor at the Business Cloud Summit in London, UK where there was both a Business Cloud Agenda as well as a Government Cloud Agenda. For further information on SAP, Cloud and Public Sector have a look at Steve Mawby’s blog My Top 4 Reasons for Choosing SAP and G-Cloud

So is SAP serious about the cloud? Well let’s look at the numbers to start with. Just this year SAP has invested around €8 billion on acquisitions in this area. At the start of the year there was Success Factors to cover the whole Human Capital Management topic, and then in October the Ariba acquisition closed to bring in a new topic around the business network. And this is on top of everything that already existed in SAP’s cloud portfolio.

So in total SAP have well over 20 separate cloud solutions on offer to our customers. But rather than have to fight your way through a long set of product names SAP has categorised these into clear and simple topic areas:

People

The full Hire-to-Retire business process that deals with how you recruit, employee, motivate and retain staff, as well as allow them to easily collaborate with each other

Customer

From engaging your sales force in their interactions with customers and prospects through to monitoring what your customers are saying about you on social media and then truly moving to working with those customers in a segment of one

Money

From running full company financials down to saving money on electronic receipt capture through Travel onDemand

Suppliers

Saving money by automating your accounts payable and invoicing processes to reduce manual intervention and ensure complete transparency on invoicing across your business network

Suite

For some companies, such as small or medium sized businesses, or subsidiaries of larger enterprises, SAP offers options with our cloud suite that covers business processes for HR, financials, supply chain management, project management and customer management – all in an integrated cloud delivered solution.

For the more IT orientated then we should also include the virtualisation options of your existing SAP landscape as well as the full Platform as a Service capability to ensure you can run the mix of on premise, on demand or hybrid that’s right for you.

Which raises an important question – where should you start? This was a frequent question at the Business Cloud Summit.

Of course there isn’t a simple answer to this but I do offer some general advice that I hope will help make your journey easier.

Firstly get your IT department to check they have investigated the virtualisation options. That’s a straight forward cost saving on your existing investment in the least disruptive way.

But in parallel start looking at what you do that isn’t in your core business model. For most customers this might be around HR, financials or expenses, as a couple of examples. By moving these processes into the cloud you can look to save money, time and resources by focusing on what differentiates you from your competitors.

What about innovation? Cloud can be a great accelerator in how you interact with your customers through social media channels. If you are not already monitoring what your customers are saying about you then without doubt you should be. From there you can also start actually interacting with those customers; turning negative sentiment into positive and uncovering things about your products from the best possible source – your customers.

There was also a really intriguing breakout SAP co-hosted with R “Ray” Wang of Constellation Research in the afternoon about the battle between business and IT over cloud…but that’s probably a topic for another blog.

Back to my opening point – if you are not clear on how SAP can help you in the cloud then do please ask…really.

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