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This January I was invited by SAP to co-present as a keynote speaker at the yearly ASUG volunteer meeting in Nashville, TN. I was asked to offer my perspective as an SAP customer for their business transformation service, the SAP Optimization & Pathfinder Report. This report takes a 30-day capture of the usage of your SAP ECC, analyzes it, comes up with recommendations on how to: take advantage of SAP functional enhancements, move to the Cloud, implement SAP’s award-winning UX “Fiori”, and migrate to SAP’s in-memory database HANA. I just so happened to be one of the first SAP customers to run the report when it was released last year, and I am fairly active on the SAP and ASUG community forums (although nowhere as active on SCN prior to the migration to the new platform). So, I naturally drew the attention of the SAP Services & Support teams, thus my invitation.

One of the many hats I wear in my company’s IT department is that of the SAP Basis, Security & Access Manager. I take to this role with all the zest and enthusiasm that one can, and I am always on the lookout for any and all services and tools that are part of my company’s SAP Enterprise Support contract. Because if you are an SAP customer the one constant is that you are overwhelmed and confused by the arsenal of services and tools available to you from SAP.

Okay. Okay. Okay! So why am I talking about so much general SAP in a SAP blog? Great question! Here is where the roads intersect. The audience for my presentation was a mix of ASUG volunteers representing special interest groups (SIGs) for: Human Resources, Supply Chain, Sales & Distribution, Finance, IT, Warehouse Mgmt, and other others. Additionally, these SIG’s were comprised of VP’s, C-level, directors, and managers from all industries. My presentation about business transformation had to reach all of them. SAP, Microsoft, Verizon… it didn’t matter the technology. My message had to be that business transformation traversed all departments and required stakeholder’s buy-in from each.

Fortunately for me I work for a wine and spirits distributor. Alcohol is a great icebreaker. Everyone it seems has a great story to tell involving alcohol.  So as I went through my presentation outlining the business transformation opportunities of this report I periodically stopped and would query the audience: “Show of hands! How many of you subscribe to the SAP Enterprise Support newsletter?” Out of 450 only about 30. “Show of hands! How many of you are SAP Certified Center of Excellence?” Maybe 10. “Show of hands! How many of us regularly initiate the SAP Continuous Quality Checks?” About 15. “Show of hands! How many of us are aware of openSAP? SAP’s free training available to everyone?” Maybe 10. “WOW! You people got some homework!” Laughter ensued.

Before I finished my presentation it dawned on me that technology in the business landscape is still expected to be championed by IT. These are ASUG volunteers I was presenting to and even they aren’t taking advantage of SAP’s services and tools. These are meant for the entire business to innovate, transform, and grow. But my “show of hands” exercise not only revealed that the services and tools are not only not being utilized but the business isn’t tuning in to their strategic vendor’s communications. The realization of the value of enterprise services is lost.

So that leads me to you my fellow SAP Community members. Show of hands, are you leveraging all of the services and tools that SAP has to offer? If so, which ones are your favorite?

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  1. Matt Fraser

    Excellent points raised here! SAP does offer a wide range of “free” services (well, free meaning included with the Enterprise Support contract, so we are paying for them, we’re just not using them), and even those of us who do know about some of these services find ourselves overwhelmed at times with understanding when to bring them into play. I think at times it’s a bit of the “too busy fighting fires to build firebreaks” syndrome.

    The other good point you touch on is this idea that, while the ideal may be for business units to drive innovation in their areas, for many of us it doesn’t really work that way. Business units either look to IT to drive the innovation — which necessitates IT staffing business experts — or they see IT as foisting unwanted change upon them. Or IT simply becomes overhead and they seek to minimize the cost as much as possible. So, the challenge for those of us in IT is to find ways to engage our business units and get them to see us as value-added partners in a shared mission.

    On the very few and far between occasions when we’ve managed to entice a business manager or leader to attend SAPPHIRE, they’ve invariably come back enthused and fired up to drive change. However, the majority of the time we cannot get anyone to go, even though IT offers to pay all the expenses. And if we can’t get business leaders to attend, then management doesn’t see the point in sending IT folks, who are already fired up about what we’re doing (even though we, too, are often blind to the latest ideas and innovations).

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