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Barely a few hours into Day 1 of SAP’s 4th annual Industry Analyst Base Camp, I had a tough time keeping up with the tidal wave of great information being evangelized. SAP Chief Strategy Officer Chakib Bouhdary did a remarkable job setting the stage of what’s to come from SAP Industries during his info-packed keynote. Immediately following Bouhdary, SAP’s Game Changers Radio program hostess Bonnie D. Graham led a panel discussion featuring SAP customers, such as Deloitte and Blount. It was fascinating to learn of the different business pain points each customer struggled with and how SAP helped them overcome adversity.

panelpic.JPGFirst question to panelists: What was the status quo and what did you need to innovate?

John Irvin, Senior Manager, Analytics and Reporting Studio at Deloitte identified three areas in analytics reporting as serious issues. Time to market was taking six to 12 months and within that time, the customer’s business was changing. “We weren’t agile enough meeting customers’ needs,” said Irvin. Customers were also asking for functionality Deloitte couldn’t deliver. “We needed to think ‘mobile everything’ and we couldn’t deliver on our current platform, said Irvin. Data latency was also an issue, the best Deloitte could deliver to users was data that was 24 hours old. “They needed real time analytics,” said Irvin.

Mardi Slick, HRIS manager for Blount, one of the world’s largest producers of chainsaws and outdoor equipment, had paper based performance management system that was “pretty ugly”. Complicating matters, HR managers would randomly change the process. “We had no visibility at all,” said Slick. “We’d get 50-60% of performance evaluations sent in late.”

With pain points established, Graham shifted gears and asked panelists to share experiences with their evaluations process. What did buy-in entail and how were teams involved to change things?

For Deloitte, the process kicked off in IT with internal assessments to meet customer needs. They conducted proof-of-concepts with SAP HANA 18 months ago. This involved compiling contact and influence finder apps, all related to Deloitte customers. These various apps allow Deloitte employees to see all points of contacts for customers. It took three weeks to develop an all-inclusive app, powered by SAP HANA. “That’s when we knew SAP HANA was real,” said Deloitte’s Irvin. “We made decisions to go live with SAP HANA to 300 managers and used that as a road show for non-SAP folks to show them what we are able to deliver on SAP HANA. We showed business owners we could search through hundreds of millions of rows of data in a second.”

For Blount, the buy-in process first and foremost involved researching top providers for the HR tool they were looking for. “SAP and SuccessFactors were obviously in top three,” said Slick, who showed global HR teams both technologies. “SuccessFactors was the direction we wanted to go. Senior leadership said it was viable and exactly what we wanted.”

At this point in the conversation, Graham asked panelists to elaborate on their game changing experiences. What worked? What didn’t? Lessons learned?

For Deloitte’s Irvin, buy in worked from IT and business users. “That was instrumental to our success,” said Irvin. “We heard a lot of ‘wows’ and ‘that’s amazing’ throughout the entire process.” Getting quick wins was also critical for Deloitte’s success. “Turning people who love the latest and greatest onto SAP HANA was the best thing we could have ever done,” said Irvin.

Blount’s Slick believes it was critical to do proper research and know best practices. Knowing how to manage people was also a lesson learned throughout the process. “You’re always going to get a stodgy person who knows how to do things better,” said Slick. “Clearly defining intent, and how you are going to get there, helps. People need to feel supported by changes, not annoyed by them.”

When panelists were asked to define key benefits and value derived within one to three years, here’s how they responded:

Deloitte’s Irvin: “Users of our [contact information] pilot group are saving two to 10 hours per week of them having to track down information from various systems.”

Blount’s Slick: “Visibility of status is everything. We can see where every evaluation is at, goals, where they are behind, etc. It’s invaluable. We went from being the HR police to empowering managers to do their jobs. We are 100% compliant now which is great. We are properly managing underperformers and superstars as well.”

Five years from now…

For Deloitte’s Irvin, it’s all about SAP HANA. He predicts Deloitte will be completely off Business Warehouse and onto SAP HANA and run its entire ERP system on SAP HANA as well. “Whether finished or just starting it will be happening,” said Irvin. In addition, Irvin expects all apps developed internally at Deloitte will source all their data from the SAP HANA platform. “That’s the most radical idea in all of this,” said Irvin. “What typically happens in most organizations is you have a hub of data which is fed different interfaces across different areas of the business.”

Blount’s Slick said her company will move to cloud completely in next five years. “It’s much easier to manage and you’re always presented with newest, best-in-industry solutions and they are constantly rolling things out every quarter,” said Slick. “But it has to work on mobile device first.”

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