I spent some time with SAP Mentor Phil Loewen, who attended EMC World 2014, and compiled his insights:

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EMC Elect & SAP Mentors Collaboration:

The cool part about attending EMC World was the ability to engage with EMC on a completely different level.  As an SAP Mentor, we engage with SAP executives in a very open way with an exchange of feedback, and this was a similar experience collaborating with the EMC Elect Community at EMC World.

This collaboration fosters two sides of Business and IT coming together, in this case – IT infrastructure and Applications.  Through this invaluable collaboration, we can begin to understand what a valuable IT strategy looks like, how it should be defined, and what you need to do from a vendor, customer, and consultant perspective. We were able to get on Silicon Angle’s theCube for an interview to discuss the collaboration, click here to view.

Through these community programs such as EMC Elect and the SAP Mentors you gain tremendous insight from an IT perspective, bringing together hardware, software, technology, and services to better understand how to leverage SAP technologies like SAP NetWeaver and SAP HANA from a business side. This confluence of technologies provides new possibilities like the tying of two pieces of a pipe together – twisting and bending them until the fit creates a match.  Leveraging the collaboration of the communities – you can identify new possibilities – like EMC’s acquisition of DSSD, EMC’s Big Data Platform for SAP – managing hot/warm/cold data – and how all of these things fit, and at what point, so customers can reap the benefits.

Out with the Old, In with the New:

Gone are the old SAP consultant days where you had your blueprint of how everything fit, and worked separately with the hardware vendors.  Now we need to look at applications from an entirely new perspective. We need to work collaboratively starting with the business processes, leveraging Technical Performance Optimization (TPO), Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as well as Implementation (TCI), and including financial models. In the new world, CAPEX vs. OPEX is an important stepping stone, to adequately deploy a sound strategy with the customer.  SAP HANA on VMware is an example of where you now get both the infrastructure and the applications all in one.

Cool Announcements @EMC World:

There were a lot of cool announcements at EMC World! EMC’s acquisition of DSSD, and SAP & VMware’s announcement of support for Virtualized HANA in production were both very impactful. It was very interesting to see these announcements first hand – especially having Bill McDermott be a part of the EMC keynote.  This demonstrated great partnership and messaging. The prior feedback about EMC World was that the announcements were typically product focused.  Now, with the acquisition of DSSD and SAP & VMware’s announcement of Virtualized HANA, it felt like this was more about announcing solutions and innovations; A way to think towards the future, a way to strategize across EMC & SAP.  It was great to attend the SAP/VMware & EMC reception, meeting VMware’s SAP team, and seeing how closely they are working together with EMC and SAP customers. EMC’s large ecosystem of partners was clearly visible at EMC World – including Service Providers, System Integrators, and ISVs.  I like the direction EMC is going.

Executive Meetings, Engagement & Feedback:

Meeting EMC executives was an invaluable experience. I met Adrian McDonald, the President of EMC EMEA, as well as Andy Sitison, General Manager of EMC’s GTM with SAP, discussing various topics – but especially focusing on the value we can drive into the SAP market together. This can best be associated with the 360°InsighT customers need to focus on for transforming IT & Business.

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We discussed how the hardest part for sales, is going from a sales organization 1.0 – where boxes were sold to a 2.0 solutions sales focus to the future of sales 3.0 – which I like to call innovation sales.  Customers now know how to bundle products & services to customize them.  Now we need to go beyond that via innovation sales.  A sales rep doesn’t need to know products in detail anymore (speeds and feeds), but instead and most importantly he/she needs to understand where the customer is going, what the possibilities are, and with that knowledge of the customer environment, help to identify the black holes.  Identifying these black holes is key to ensure our customers don’t fall into them.  This is the true value.  Customers want to innovate, and we need to be driving innovative sales in combination with a highly skilled and technology oriented pre-sales team, where customers & sales work collaboratively to solve real problems. 

We’re going to see that this innovation sales strategy will be necessary as we get into Hybrid Cloud technology deployment.  Customers are asking about how to transform their infrastructure from today to deploy a private/hybrid/public cloud.  They want to know how to structure their financials, and understand how to ensure they are well positioned for the future, thinking about the requirements needed to drive their business forward.

Another example of EMC’s clear understanding that driving innovation is of primary importance, is my discussion with John Roese, EMC’s Chief Technology Officer.  In discussing his own journey from Nortel, where he wanted to push the market vs. where his competitors wanted to, he clearly demonstrated where he stands on innovation.  John Roese talked about how he was able to push the standards of the industry to drive innovation.  Now with DSSD – he discussed that there are new boundaries that are opened up by not only the acquiring company, but also for the acquired company in terms of engineering & technology, and the ability to expand into new markets. 

Another impactful interaction was the ability to meet briefly with Bill Scannell, EMC’s President, Global Sales and Customer Operations and Dan Campbell, EMC’s SVP Strategic Sales. The approachability and engagement of EMC’s Executives was impressive, and quite similar to SAP’s.

Interesting Take-Aways:

I spent a great deal of time with EMC Elect member and EMC’s Americas Theatre & Global Sales Strategy Lead for SAP, Henrik Wagner – trying to get a feel for what is similar, and what is different.  It is interesting to see how SAP application development, the infrastructure side and how Pivotal can potentially combine with HANA.  Pivotal gives you the ability to pull-in any type of developer and provide the possibility to deploy applications in either SAP or non-SAP environments in a more agile way with Cloud Foundry.  It allows you to develop on SAP or on another platform to build the perfect app for the service one needs.  It provides the same infrastructure for customers.  Combining platforms is a very interesting discussion – the question of what is going to be the proper development platform or platforms that will be interacting – with independent products working side-by-side communicating. I believe that is the future, and once again EMC is well positioned to combine with SAP in driving business outcomes for customers.

There was definitely clear technology and SAP expertise at EMC World led by EMC’s Henrik Wagner and Christoph Streubert, EMC’s Chief Strategist for SAP.  One of the most impressive people I met with regards to vision on technology and solution strategy was with Chad Sakac, SVP of EMC Global SEs.  We were supposed to have a half an hour meeting, and instead ended up talking with him for a full hour.  Chad gave great insight into where the market is going – looking at converged infrastructure, incorporating VIPR into the discussion to create sustainable and management layers of the software defined data center. He goes into a lot more detail in his “Virtual Geek” blog here.

Collaboration Leads to Innovation:

Looking back when we first met at SAPTechEd in Vegas last October – I had no ties to EMC – since then, I’ve had a pretty steep learning curve. This just goes to showcase how much this collaboration is needed from a vendor, application, and infrastructure standpoint in order to be more useful to our customers.  The openness and collaboration that we’ve had has been invaluable to me personally. I am able to use all the knowledge I have acquired from my startup days to take what I now know to be able to provide insight to companies to drive innovation from bare metal, nuts & bolts up into the application layer.

EMC’s Big Data Platform for SAP

Speaking of innovation, EMC’s Big Data Platform for SAP (aka: Project Jupiter) is a huge development.  If you’re a customer you’re never going to be able to manage PBs of information solely on one platform.  As soon as you understand the different temperatures of the data, and then apply different methodologies based on these temperatures for where that data should reside, this will provide customers with a lot more insight into their data.  This can translate into insight into social media to be able to understand how much a given customer should produce of a certain product.  You can start to predict based on data mining and harvesting, what you should buy and when.  Being able to mine that data from the different platforms allows you to gain more insight, and enables innovation. Twenty years ago – any type of service was as is. Take Automobiles as an example, they came in different colors, a few models, but not that much choice.  Now you can customize a car by getting insight into the car as you drive. You can understand what the impact is of your tire pressure, given what type of road you drive on, and how much congestion there is based on where you go and how fast – allowing to gain insight into that information provides the ability to make better, faster decisions to ensure you have the right tires, with the right pressure, for the right conditions.  This in turn allows our customers to provide their users with a better feeling and perception of that individual product.

The Impact for SAP Mentors from my Viewpoint:

Even though I come from a technical background, I’ve become much more of a strategist.  Being a lot more focused and broadly aware has given me a lot more insight into how you can innovate better – whether it be on the application or infrastructure side – understanding what the other vendors are doing to support the SAP Ecosystem is a HUGE invaluable impact.  If you only have one side, you’ll never see the 360° view of software, hardware, and services, and how it couples with the technology to drive innovation for customers (This is what I call 360ËšInsighT).

EMC’s SAP User Group Dinner

The ability to sit with a few of EMC’s SAP customers, to see the openness and willingness of these customers to speak about their own innovation and strategy thanks to EMC and SAP’s technologies they are using was truly impressive.  Given the benefits of this type of exchange, the willingness of customers to engage it struck a chord that a roundtable discussion where topics could be raised in order to have an idea exchange is something which will now be explored. It is something that I subsequently brought up with a key EMC Executive.  Overall, EMC’s willingness to collaborate is really amazing, and clearly infectious.

Social Media and Beyond

I don’t believe there is a right way to go about social media – you are voicing your opinion, and you expect a conversation.  Whether someone agrees or disagrees!  There are worse cases, but not many out there who do it better than EMC.  Any company who opens themselves up to being social is to be commended.  I’m not tweeting all the time, but mainly around events, and something where I’m disseminating value.

EMC Elect Presence at EMC World

EMC did a pretty awesome job from a visual impact standpoint. I really enjoyed the conference overall, and liked EMC Elect’s visibility at the conference.  The only critique I would make is I could not distinguish an EMC Elect person on the show floor.  At SAP Conferences, each SAP Mentor wears their SAP Mentor shirt, and they stand out. The goal for the SAP Mentors is to ensure customers embrace the SAP community; they act as technology experts, and are there to engage with SAP community members.  That was missing from EMC World. 

Thank You EMC!

I enjoyed the interaction and the warm welcome.  I think it would be hugely valuable for SAP Mentors to engage with EMC Elect – the broadening of knowledgebase is a huge collaborative plus.  It allows a new viewpoint – new compelling questions with different insights.  THANK YOU! 

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Sylvie Otten Sollod is EMC’s Global Campaigns Lead for SAP, and enjoys learning, collaboration, and engaging.  Please feel free to reach out in the Twitter-sphere @Sylvie75015 or read more at Sylvie’s Blog.  Looking forward to learning, collaborating & engaging next week @SAPPHIRENOW!

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