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The #SB50DISRUPT event gave me a great opportunity to hear the latest about how digitally native apps are changing the way we work. I logged onto Blab for an interview with Gaurav Jaiswal, vice president of Digital Business at SAP, who explained this whole concept – and gave listeners keen insight into how SAP is using the idea to disrupt its own business model. I’ve summarized the highlights that I find most intriguing in this short blog.

People want the same simplicity and flexibility in buying and consuming business software that they have in their personal lives.

Today, there’s a blurring of the lines between business and personal use of devices, applications, tools, and technologies. For example, you might use the same online collaboration tool, or a to-do list, or a travel app in both your personal and business activities. And since you’re used to making purchases online, simply and easily, you have the same expectation for how you buy and consume business software. It’s not like a switch that goes on and off, where you are at work and should expect something different.

These expectations are cross-industry. For example, when you interact with your bank, your expectation is not necessarily benchmarked against other banks; it’s benchmarked against consumer offerings like Google Wallet or PayPal. Consumers are making these cross-industry comparisons on a daily basis.

So that brings us to what we call digitally native apps. These offerings have built-in features that make them simple to purchase, obtain, and consume digitally. You can be sitting in your PJs at 10 p.m., and just as you can download an e-book for your Kindle, you can also download an app using your personal credit card and then start using it. It could be software, content, data, or education-related, but the main point is that you should be able to get these offerings instantaneously via a seamless, online, click-through process that doesn’t require any technical assistance, and see immediate value. That’s what SAP Digital is all about.

With SAP Digital, SAP is essentially disrupting its own business model, establishing a dedicated team to put the customer first.

Disruption is happening all around us. What triggered the establishment of this new business unit, SAP Digital, was the desire to get ahead of the curve. SAP has been very successful for 44 years, providing business-to-business (B2B) software in a consultative manner through traditional channels. But, as Gaurav explained, this self-service, do-it-yourself way of purchasing software is what customers want. Studies have showed that 70% of business revenue is coming from digital channels like the SAP Store – where an end-to-end purchase takes minutes, from discovery to getting a trial version to downloading the product.

These buyers can be anyone: existing or new customers, large enterprise users, entrepreneurs, mom-and-pop shops, end business users, developers – any one of them can now take advantage of digital offerings on SAP Store, much of it at a low price point. An employee at a larger company, for example, can get a trial and download it for his or her own use, then go to the company’s IT department and recommend scaling it up for use across the organization.

This phenomenon may not be new on the consumer side, but it is absolutely new on the B2B side. And creating this business model has not necessarily been easy; if it were, everyone would be doing it. At SAP Digital, this kind of planned disruption has required a good deal of orchestrated change. The most important step was to begin developing a digital mindset, or “digital DNA,” starting with one team and expanding from there. This involved working with the product teams to help them see the value of digitally native apps, integrating “in-app” purchase capabilities, along with ease of use that doesn’t stop at the purchase point.

Putting customers first means thinking like a buyer, creating ways of getting their feedback, and even considering their risks.

In a self-service environment, how is it possible to get customers’ feedback to make sure they are enjoying the experience? SAP Digital employs different tactics: dedicated surveys and primary research, as well as a very small team of coaches who talk to customers and get their feedback in real time. There are ways to provide feedback at SAP Store, and SAP Community Network creates a platform for having a conversation with peers.

But what about governance and compliance? Opening the gates for using business-class software on private devices creates a lot of opportunity for cost and efficiency gains, and even competitive advantage, but it also creates potential risks. “The people most responsible for governance are CIOs, and my experience is that they are actually reassured when employees are dealing with SAP,” Gaurav said. “Let’s say 10 AEs in Acme Consulting purchase SAP Digital for Customer Engagement. Because the app is from a company like SAP with solid brand presence, that gives the CIO a lot of confidence.”

Gaurav had much more to say, including his predictions for what the app-enabled workplace might look like in 2020. I encourage you to watch his interview to learn more. And do check out SAP Store to see for yourself what he’s talking about. Of course, we would love you to join the discussion by commenting below.

Federica De Monte is social and community manager at SAP Digital. Follow @federicademonte on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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