Approx. 2 years ago, a deal has been lost against vendor XYZ. It was their first deal in that account. What struck the competition most was the fact that the solution of XYZ was neither the fastest nor did it meet any of the architecture standards of the customer. What happened? Whilst all other vendors were talking exclusively to IT and focus on theirs specs, XYZ was talking to the Marketing department. Marketing at that time had an important challenge to improve the productivity of their campaigns and reduce the continuous loss of clients and thus revenue. XYZ was able to show to Marketing on who they would allow them to make better campaigns and do all that in record time (Time to Value!). This helped XYZ as well to circumvent the objections of the IT department. XYZ talked to them about the challenges they might be facing and how XYZ is able to resolve them. Technology was important but the most important was the Value XYZ was able to deliver.
There is a certain parallelism of that above example and the content of many of the conversations that are currently going on. The main focus is on technology which no doubt is very important and an important driver. But what I am missing is the answer to the question on a broader yet detailed scale of “Why is this important and how does this impact my business”. It might be just me, it might be or the fact that many interchanges on SCN are more focused on tech and it is assumed that the reader already knows. Yet I am not so sure that really everybody, or the vast majority can outline / understand the Value of the solutions in a fact based way.
I see there are references to TCO, ROI how barriers are being torn down and how speed limits are being broken. Whilst I do believe that I do understand the real importance I wonder why hardly anybody goes down to the business value of taking this new direction. Most of the times I read about speed, size, what type of servers, connectivity etc. I have to admit that I have come across only very few examples on where somebody was able to layout the hard currency benefits of this. The basic idea is clear to me but yet how does it get materialised in the real world.
The technology we have at hand allows us to do things really different. Being able to run transactions and analytics on the very same database and in realtime, like HANA, is fantastic since the real picture is being analysed. Including Data from sources like the social media or any other “unstructured source” which could well be internal. There is tons of information inside the corporations, which have never being exploited. It seems impossible to speak of BigData and not mention Hadoop. There is a lot of buzz, but Hadoop is not a ready to use solution which will give you immediate results, it will need quite a bit of development and implementation efforts. Hadoop based solutions further require some thorough planning for Infrastructure (even though it is very low cost commodity, but of that quite a bit might be needed). Still talking about technology, and technology is not being bought and sold for the sake of technology anymore, but technology is being bought to bring value to the end user.
I have come across a few customers who simply did not understand what the advantage would be for them to get on the train of SAP HANA or a Hadoop based BigData scenario. Those were in some cases smaller customers but also big ones from industries like retail. My first thought was “they simply did not get it and are not evolving”. But wait, they did not say that they did not want to understand but simply that they did not get the idea. Taking it from a customer point of view it seems obvious that there are still some efforts on selling needed to be made. This leads me to my next thought and I have already exposed parts of it in my previous blog post, we need to find together a better way to position value to the customers. I very strongly insist on the we, if not all parties involved in making this “dent in the universe” we will simply see a slow evolution and slower adoption of new technology, as we would like to see. All parties made and are continuing to make important investments around SAP HANA, therefore there cannot be any doubt that all are pursuing the same goal.
Some of the scenarios and objections I have come across:
You can accelerate your ERP and the Operational Reporting:
- why should this be important to me ?
- I can accelerate my current relational DB by using Flash technology, this implies an implementation of max 1 day and accelerates between factor 2-13
- The technology is not yet stable enough
- I have just invested in upgrading my current infrastructure
- How long does the implementation take?
- Who is going to do the implementation?
You can accelerate your BW and BPC:
- why should this be important to me?
- I can do that as well with other technologies
- How do I migrate, how long does it take, how much is it going to cost
I just put those two examples since they summarise probably very well the majority of objections on a broader scale. I have included on purpose the examples of technology and services since I have noticed an increasing amount of friction on those two areas between SAP and its partners.
Yet the technology point underlines what I have stated earlier in this post that HANA will not be sold most of the times for the sake of technology.
Regarding services, SAP should define very clearly at the beginning of the sales cycle their position on services. I have seen it now a couple of times where all of a sudden almost at the end of the sales cycle the SAP rep bundled in a significant amount of services hours into the HANA deal in order to compensate the license price. This in turn is not helping to gain more push from the services partners.
Back to to square one? For sure not we have come all a long way already. Yet I have the impression that there is still not a clear idea, which is absorbed by all parties on how to really position value at the customers. Is this something that I am perceiving alone, what are your thoughts how can we change this and make HANA the hottest selling product ever, and all gain our share ?
Please share your thoughts in the comments area!