In the past 5 years, our company invested hugh amount of efforts into the area of innovations. The super star solution – SAP HANA, and based on it we already have the whole platform (business suite on HANA) and HANA cloud could be in a very near future. At the same time, similar innovations aiming to improve the user experiences have been tried. In fact, with the SAP CRM solution, you can already feel it so obvious because each major release of SAP CRM brought new UI technology with it. And now it is the mobility of enterprise business which dramatically changes the game.
Yes, SAP is showing the world how such a huge company could be innovative with all the brilliant products (some has been proved to be a success) and I do wish we could continue to be a recognized and competitive leader in the future enterprise business software service market. But while we have so many innovative products and solutions, I think it is also the right time to take corresponding innovative steps in service area.
Last two weeks I was helping on some SAP traditional service support onsite with two of our customers. The services went on well just like old days. I went there as an on-demand adviser on different technical or functional issues. However, when I think it twice to map the technical issues with the real business value we added, it is kind of strange. For me, we always priorities the issue severity, sometimes even from “business” perspective in our opinion. But it comes to real business, it is really interesting to see how the issue could finally impact some other business operation steps that you would never have concerns on.
There are too many layers between business and the real root cause.
There are too many layers between the end users and the producers.
There are too many layers between the IC agents and the CRM consultants.
HANA is a brilliant solution, which actually tries to accelerate the process of transforming data into business value. And it is doing great. How about the service delivery model? Previously we just wait for the call. Any incident occurred at customer, we picked up the call and get there to support. With solution manager we made one step further, we could foresee the problems and decide to help our customers before they realize that something is wrong. Wait? Is that really true? In a on-demand/on-cloud/take-what-you-need-only world, it is not true. Look at the proactive solution manager, we design the benchmarks for our customer, we define all what we value most as rules for them. And the fact is that it really doesn’t work.
Innovation always breaks some rules. When we feel comfortable for so long time with our support strategy and delivery model, there must be some rule we obeyed turns out to be out-of-date. User experience standards have been changed year by year, but our support strategy towards our customer remains the same. Even with the new products and new solutions that require support, we made little progress on improving the service user experiences. The fact is really sad but true.
In my opinion, the service delivery should touch the real pain point of customer in the first place. To achieve this, more transparencies between the end user and developer should be made. Removing the barriers between end user and product owner, leave them more knowledge and idea about the solution (maybe involve them in the producing step) will make it easier for them to get the clear idea how they could be served.
And the delivery model should be more proactive. It should be an open market. I think bringing more SAP support partner in support service area would be another good idea.
And finally we will have to suffer from the decrease of support service revenue and profit. But who cares? SAP is becoming a cloud company. Isn’t it?