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Author's profile photo Sven Denecken

Good solutions need a good platform – why SalesForce Automation is old school

Many people see in cloud computing only the people centric, mobile first and analytic driven applications which can be purchased with a credit card. This would undervalue the transformative power of the cloud.

If your cloud vision is narrowed down to e.g. SFA (sales force automation) or even any cloud CRM – then you need to accept that your applications will be silo-ed and integration to the rest of the business will be ad-hoc at best.

The quick fix of a cloud application can become a long-term business problem when there is no integration between the application and the rest of the organization, especially at a process level.

To truly leverage the cloud for your business, these cloud applications need to be considered in conjunction with a modern platform (PaaS) AND flexible integration capabilities to existing investments. Such a holistic portfolio approach is one that SAP has taken (more details here).


Why Sales Force Automation (SFA) is old school:

First, no sales person want to be automated. They are looking for a solution to ease the pain of using multiple excel sheets. This is why a cloud solution they can purchase with their credit card is so attractive.

Very quickly the questions arise: how do we collaborate between teams, how do we work with marketing, how do we get overall visibility into the pipeline? How do I get actual and in time information about pricing, how do I manage an offer, a proposal, a RFP  and even more important how do i get information about skilled co-workers or partners to help me with the deal

Sales force automation tools in the market are often stitched together solutions, missing the fundamentals of good solution design like mobile first and collaboration in context. Proof? try to use collaboration tools that do not provide the context of the business process.

Modern collaborative solutions provide the business context with a clear goal: to orchestrate a deal in the context of the business as a whole:

  1. You need to think about the broader process and business case, not in silos or niches. Customers want to address:  improved customer service, define and market to the segment of one, have a 360 view of a customer and up-sell, etc…
  2. You need a solution that thinks beyond stitching apps together on several platforms, but a model of flexible consumption that lets you start anywhere and go everywhere – having the full integrated cycle from data and process perspective.

The attributes of a modern social customer engagement solution, also see here how technology enables a new approach crossing silos:

  • Collaboration: sell as a team, harness collective wisdom of the experts (also check SAPJam new Work patterns)
  • Deep customer insight: anticipate needs, bring new ideas
  • Productivity: complete mobile, real-time answers in front of customers
  • Designed for Sales Effectiveness: easy-to-use, consumerized
  • Prospect-to-Pay: seamless back-office integration for quotes, orders & more
  • Industry editions: support your unique buying and selling processes


Also take a look at this business case for sales in the 21st century.

Why a platform strategy (PAAS):

The platform is where we see the most differentiation in the market. Some are expanding from a niche and acquiring, but are struggling to make it work together. We see players where there are up to seven (7) different platforms being marketed as 1x PaaS. Others use old technology and attach new technology or code to solve it. Both these approaches will have long term scalability issues.

You need to have the drive and chutzpa of innovation to change the game. SAP’s game changer is the SAP HANA Cloud Platform – it provides: 

  • Application management – to configure, extend your existing solutions and build new ones
  • Systems management – to manage all cloud solutions from one place and even in combination to your on premise
  • Administration & Monitoring – have you ever solved single sign on across your solutions? Well here it is
  • Security – down to the application and database layer, not the wrong mulch-tenancy that creates intermingled or complex solutions
  • Innovation power via services as part of the platform:
    • Predictive
    • Analytics
    • Spatial
    • Text mining
    • Streaming
    • Graphstore
  • Integration services – cloud to cloud., cloud to on-premise, cloud to 3rd party. See examples how it plays out here.

All this innovation inside the platform, with an opportunity for the partner Eco-system to enhance and extend on top of this platform. Needless to say that this builds the perfect glue and transformation engine from on-premise to cloud for customers.


By converging to one platform,  existing solutions have an opportunity toexpand way beyond their horizons and new products and services have emerged. But more importantly this innovation platform has not only opened up SAP for faster and better development, it has opened up the innovation of the entire SAP and its Eco-system for solutions in the cloud that solve real business problems – the Cloud for business.

Back to example above for a modern customer engagement solution: We already moved the first solution from the SAP Cloud for Customer portfolio – “day in a life scenario” for making sales people more productive by supporting them how they really work. The innovation platform, our PaaS has brought benefits described earlier – from integration in hybrid landscapes to mobile and analytics just to mention a few – and will ensure all future innovation can be leveraged.

Just think about what you can do with the in Memory technology and the predictive capabilities. There are some radical new applications that can be develop in co-innovation with customers and partners.

Now is a good time to consider whether you want to go down the path of an old school silo’d cloud solution, or whether you want to make a long term investment in transforming your business, by moving to the cloud on a solid platform.

Let me know your thoughts and follow me on twitter for regular updates @SDenecken


Read other relevant blogs:

Hybrid cloud

Public, Private or Hybrid? What are your cloud choices

The 1-2-3 of Cloud security

Integration and Interoperability of Cloud Solutions – it’s a kind of Magic

– SaaS and PaaS: a symbiotic relationship delivering enterprise value

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      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      I just find this blog almost contradicting its premise:

      " You need to think about the broader process and business case, not in silos or niches. Customers want to address:  improved customer service, define and market to the segment of one, have a 360 view of a customer and up-sell, etc..."

      As the second part dives into almost pure technology will solve all your problems case for using it instead of trying to illustrate an actual business problem with the solution.  I hate to say this but I could never give this blog to non-IT person as a reason not to go down the "old-school path".  They wouldn't understand it and the technical points about the platforms aren't even concerns.

      I hate to say it but those siloed competitors have a much cleaner and simpler vision that focuses on the business problem rather than platform.  Perhaps that's what's really wrong with this blog is the messaging so focused on selling us technology they forget that 100% of my business users don't care about your servers and code! 

      All I can say this definitely not the way to convince a old-school SFA user to look beyond their silo.

      Take care,


      Author's profile photo Sven Denecken
      Sven Denecken
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Stephen, thanks for the feedback. here are my thoughts:

      SCN is indeed a more technical audience, thus we reference to the business cases that we have elsewhere in more detail and you can find them here:

      Check it out, you will see great plays that you can support if you have 1 platform, not multiple.... and how the technology that is enabling those cases can help.

      And not trying to sell technology, technology is (just an enabler), see here:

      Keep the feedback coming... Sven...

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      First problem the site you sent me doesn't work on IE8(maybe it works on IE9) but I'm stuck using old browsers due to old SAP on-premise solutions that didn't support current browsers when they are released.  Will have to look and see how the material there compares with other pitches I have received.

      Yes SCN is a technical audience that supports a business audience.  However most senior technical leaders who manage solutions that supports Sales and Marketing are more interested in how the process issues will be solved.  Solutions to support Sales and Marketing have never been about technical solutions and in fact when you focus on the technical they fail miserably.

      That's why I really think especially in positioning holistic solutions for Sales and Marketing that use cloud technologies there needs less focus on technology and more on process solving.  Remember most of those users are asking to use and not asking does the solution have the best in-memory database or integration.  I think it's important to say a solution is easy to use, but rather see a focus on business process aspects that sets the solution apart than just the technology.  For Sales & Marketing you don't need to sell the cloud but rather why to use your cloud solution.

      I hate to say this but Dynamics in their pitches is much more business process centric in their pitch to the point it reminds me of how SAP would sell applications based on best business practices.  Don't get me wrong SAP's analytics visition and integration with backend SAP ERP is definitely ahead of what I have seen.

      Take care,


      Author's profile photo Sven Denecken
      Sven Denecken
      Blog Post Author

      I hear you, struggle sometimes with my chrome on my mac to get there... but anyways, check here to see what i described above does for customers. Not announced, actually does.

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      Well I'm only bringing this up as number #1 question that those of running SAP ERP and traditional SAP CRM get is why not or very soon the new release Dynamics CRM.  The problem is as technical people we understand the whole platform value proprosition, but our users don't care about that.  They instead see their buddies at other companies using or dynamics and want a valid reason why they can't that solution.

      I think an entire marketing campaign calling one of your fastest growing competitors who displaced your position in the space as an "outdated" solution is fundamentally the wrong approach to retain existing customers and get new customers.  I have seen a lot of SAP countermarketing in response to dreamforce announcements some of it landing here and it just feels tired and contrived.

      I also hate to say that when I talk to other customers during ASUG meetings, most of them are telling me it's so sad to see SAP CRM go away as a solution that they will be using.  They aren't telling they will be using SAP Cloud but instead are implementing or something else.

      Finally in trying to give my business users better arguments for not going for the "outdated" solutions, the marketing materials/examples here won't cut it.  My decision makers are getting custom tailored solution proposals or scenarios that match what they need to do exactly vs a whole bunch of fluffy generics.

      Yes I'm being challenging here, but the reason why I'm being challenging here is that I feel strongly that traditional SAP ERP Customers will be looking elsewhere for those "outdated" solutions and the reference names that I have heard make that concern greatly valid.  Ignoring or calling other solutions "outdated" is the wrong approach.

      Take care,


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thank you Sven denecken for sharing this ,very informative  and great engineering by SAP.

      As per my common sense business can now make faster decisions with this technology.

      Author's profile photo Sven Denecken
      Sven Denecken
      Blog Post Author

      To cater to some of the comments and as a follow up - and of course "inspired" by a keynote yesterday, here a blog from today you might want to look at as well..

      A winning cloud sales solution - comparing older SaaS against new SaaS

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      Thank you, that was exactly the type of information I was looking for 🙂 .  Do you also have anything else that compares to Dynamics or I assume could just use the same criteria in an evaluation of the solution.

      Thank you,


      Author's profile photo Sven Denecken
      Sven Denecken
      Blog Post Author

      Yes, the criteria would apply to any SaaS solution you want to compare.