SAP Focuses on Customers First, Critics Second
By Sarah Harvey, Travis Irvine, and Ben Hancock
SAP is giving end users the attention they deserve.
On the third day of SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference, the company’s technological “fathers” focused their keynote speeches on the SAP customer experience, while also dispelling myths about the in-memory SAP HANA platform and new cloud offerings.
Co-founder Hasso Plattner and executive board member Vishal Sikka wove a powerful story of how mathematics and design can drive innovative solutions that maximize the end-user experience—and how SAP, in particular, is leading the way.
Plattner began by asking the audience, “What do customers expect from SAP products?” He emphasized that the company’s products must be easy and reliable, while also offering a consumer-grade user experience.
The cloud, for instance, is bringing a new element of flexibility to the customer. Plattner compared its new licensing model to leasing a car instead of buying one, and explained how SAP offers different solutions for companies of different sizes.
Plattner then turned his attention to several myths about the SAP HANA that he has seen in the press. “There is a culture in this country of freedom of speech,” Plattner joked. “I couldn’t find anything that says there is a freedom of making up facts.”
For example, Plattner addressed the myth that HANA is not ready for primetime, which he dispelled by rapidly listing hundreds of companies that already use the real-time software. Furthermore, Plattner dismissed the rumor that HANA is only for SAP applications. Nearly 60 percent of HANA applications are on outside systems, he said, and many users are start-up companies. In fact, there are 431 startups on the HANA platform. “This is the future of SAP,” said Plattner.
Vishal Sikka was ushered onstage by a video message from computer science visionary Alan Kay, who applauded systems like SAP HANA “that allow end users to do only what experts had done before.”
But, SAP HANA is old news for SAP innovators. “She’s not a little girl anymore,” said Sikka. Now, “the opportunity in front of us is about expanding our horizons.”
Sikka highlighted how SAP’s vast ecosystem is helping reach those goals. He featured live and video presentations from partners, including Hewlett-Packard, Adobe, Google, eBay, Intel, and more.
Customers such as John Deere—the first to launch an ERP system powered by SAP HANA—showed that with SAP, the customer’s customer comes first. John Deere is able to use data from sensors on its field equipment to give customers real-time solutions.
“As Hasso always says, ‘We are working from the user experience, backwards,'” said Sikka.