By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

Events can be many things to a company, but, above all, they exist for customers. And to keep customers engaged, events – even SAPPHIRE NOW – must reinvent themselves. For the team responsible for SAPPHIRE NOW, this meant taking the popular TED Talk format and applying it to the session line-up. Not only were the sessions crisper and more succinct, but they also provided a clear statement of challenges, outcomes, and key advantages of running a Live Business.

Recently, I asked a leading content curator how to build a great TED Talk. His suggested using a three-act “Disney Pixar” format – challenge, solution, and results. It appeared that many sessions I attended at SAPPHIRE NOW heeded this advice – and the result was inspiring content. But, there were two in particular that really caught my attention.

Loblaws and the Run Simple journey

With approximately 200,000 employees working in over 200 locations and a commanding 30% market share, Loblaw is Canada’s largest retailer. The grocery store chain processes a staggering 1 billion transactions each year and supports 840 systems. Between the volume and size of its business, Loblaw admits that this is a complex system. Nevertheless, the retailer still reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) by 30% while adding 1,200 more stores.

Loblaw’s approach focused on standardization and operational efficiency as it embarked on its own business simplification journey centered on a long-term relationship with Digital Business Services at SAP and the SAP MaxAttention service. By incorporating the insights and governance practices into the business, the retailer structured its operations to shrink overall IT-related costs.

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What convinced the business that it needed to Run Simple? Although the goal was to reduce overall TCO, Loblaw was also experiencing slow adoption rates, high customization, and rising complexity across the board due to a disjointed direction and innovation plan. In the style of Sherpas, SAP helped define a road map for reducing overall complexity and devise a plan to improve overall ease of use.

Part of this effort called for unified management. Through the SAP MaxAttention service, Loblaw optimized its intake and consumption of new technology and created unified plans for delivery, deployment, and support across all innovation areas. This model combines the support and delivery expertise of Accenture, Cognizant, and key partners with SAP standards.

Although Loblaw maximized its investments in SAP solutions and yielded significant cost savings, the real value came from improving the user experience.

EMC and the co-innovation experience:


EMC is a US $25 billion global company with over 70,000 employees and a diverse product and services technology portfolio that has diversified since their earlier roots in storage solutions. Over the last six years, they have become incredible proof of the benefit of innovation as its IT infrastructure has moved beyond core ERP solutions.

EMC is driven by several major business drivers:

• A legacy of heavily customized Oracle applications burdened with high support costs; no scalability; and ineffective and costly upgrade path

• Continued growth of EMC products and services that required sophisticated solutions requirements

• A “need for speed” for faster introduction of new products

• Rising user expectations and a need to exploit innovations such as enterprise mobility and enhanced user interactions

• Increased partner collaboration and desire to co-innovate

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Partnering with the SAP Custom Development organization, EMC achieved its goals of collaborative co-innovation. The company leveraged a SAP Hybris solution to create a quote system for the shell and combined it with SAP Solution Sales Configuration. Although the user interface is customized, it is also consistent and contemporary as well as integrated with Vendavo’s solution for integrated pricing. All of this is deployed on top of the SAP CRM application and the SAP HANA platform for maximum performance.

EMC met its critical business needs, and the results are impressive. The project was delivered on time and within budget while providing support to more complex solution configurations. Most important, it is an integrated, end-to-end solution that offers mobile access with a unified, consistent user experience. Being a global solutions provider, EMC can support local language localization and the configuration needs of a diverse product and service portfolio with increased speed and overall reliability. EMC reduced its support costs, achieved a positive impact on TCO, and improved new product introduction cycle time by 30% – all while supporting a 50% increase in overall transactions.

Both Loblaw and EMC are insightful examples of partnership in the face of innovation. The more complex the innovation options, the greater the need for simplification; integration; and consistent, companywide access.

Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.


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