The Oxford English Dictionary definition SERVICE
· The action of helping or doing work for someone
· Assistance or advice given to customers during and after the sale of goods
When I invited founder Lars Dalgaard to join me on stage at the recent SuccessConnect in Las Vegas, I had an ulterior motive. Besides Lars, I was joined by two of our recent SAP Academy graduate students. As our newest account executives, and located in New York City, far from our San Francisco headquarters, I wanted them to hear directly from Lars what inspired him to start our business, and how the idea of what we can make possible for customers has always driven us. In fact, if you visit our Silicon Valley offices, you’ll see posted on many of the walls “the customer must win.” While we all share Lars’s ongoing passion about our products and our customers, Lars makes it as palpable to an audience as anyone I know, and I knew our Academy graduates and our audience would feel it. Truly feel it.
As the definition from the Oxford Dictionary states, service is something given to customers both during and after the sale. Add to that Forrester Research now saying up to 90% of buying decisions are made before engaging with sales, and you have to realize it’s not only software, but service that influences the decision for someone to do business with you. The power of the consumer is unlike at any time previously in business.
At SuccessConnect, I introduced my commitment that SAP and SuccessFactors are not only delivering the first “S” in software by providing the industry’s most complete, end-to-end talent management suite in cloud, (in fact I’m thrilled for our team that we were recognized in the newly-released SaaS HR Management Systems Forrester Wave for not just our leading talent suite, but now also for Employee Central), but also by taking the industry’s 43-year leader in support on a massive global scale and applying that firepower to the second “S” in SaaS – Service.
In fact, I’m branding it SaaService. What we see with our customers is that SaaS has matured to the point where they expect the same service experience in the cloud as they have had from on premise providers. With public cloud uptake beyond the tipping point in adoption, I’d argue the concept of service in the cloud has come into its own.
Supporting 4,000 HR line of business customers, over 16.5 million users, globally with mission critical software like Employee Central, payroll and the talent suite is not easy. Ask our competitors, who are starting to show cracks as they attempt to scale globally and support more customers. We have had our share of bumps along the way, but there has never been a better time to be a customer.
Last week, I made a set of commitments to our customers around product and operations, support and enablement in support of my view of SaaS. Among them are a commitment to publish a high-level suite roadmap 12 months in advance, a decision to split our test and production environments and release the test system 30 days ahead of a production release, the delivery of a single release document 60 days prior to each release, improved and simplified integrations, new up-time targets to best match when our customers need our applications, an updated view of how we prioritize tickets, based on business criticality versus historic categorizations, and investing in our partners training and implementation capabilities.
Additonally, we’ll provide more control to our customers – through greater self-service administration, the creation of a Trip Advisor-like experience where customers and prospects can learn about our partners directly from their peers’ assessments and feedback, and finally by offering our own enablement training directly to our customers.
I invite you to learn more about our point of view from my address at SuccessConnect, “The Future is in the Clouds for HR.
SaaService is no longer the new kid on the block. As the market matures, companies will continue to evolve services to meet customer demands.