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The right approach to S/4HANA – Blog Post #4: Focus on “Consumable Innovation

 

Short post today, because end of this week I will cover a heavy topic that will consume some minutes of your precious time (but will surely give you back a whole lot of value, of course) so I will pay into your time account now to humbly draw out of it in the next post.

Today’s topic is in the wider sense about mutual understanding of two parties (you and your customer) while having a discussion about individual innovative aspects when implementing S/4HANA.

Again, let’s take position on two sides of this situation.

Side 1: Imagine you are an Account Executive, Presaler or Value Engineer and your aim is to convince the customer of the benefits of S/4HANA. Let’s skip the usual benefits discussion (we will cover that later in a separate blog post) and imagine you are in a situation in which your customer wants to talk with you about innovation. Not the big strategic topics (again separate blog post …. well, next one to be precise) but handy, credible toeholds for innovative attacks.

Side 2: As an interested customer, you see there are huge benefits potentials, but let’s assume, you are either a LOB-lead, or a C-Level person that will immediately be asked for innovative added values after this presumed workshop. And its not about being better at things that you are already doing, but being able to do things you were not able to do before.

So far so good, because in this situation a highly motivated sales professional meets a highly interested customer to talk about a highly innovative product. What could go wrong? Well, a lot.

So far so good, because in this situation a highly motivated sales professional meets a highly interested customer to talk about a highly innovative product. What could go wrong?

Well, a lot.

There is a possibility that both parties will leave the meeting with a mixed feeling, not because of the highly innovative application, but you both did a mistake that happens quite often when those two kinds of parties meet in a situation like that: The one side wants to impress, the other side wants to be impressed. And by this, you both are caught in the “Bigger, better, faster, more” – trap.

The one side wants to impress, the other side wants to be impressed. And by this, you both are caught in the “Bigger, better, faster, more” – trap.

I want to give you an example: One of the in my opinion most impressive use-cases that shows the power of a joint action between S/4HANA and the SAP Analytics Cloud is the Digital Boardroom, a dynamic and real-time presentation application, enabling executives to find insights and address ad hoc questions. Whoever has the possibility to witness a demo of the Digital Boardroom leaves the presentation impressed and highly inspired. If you, dear sales person, cannot resist the urge to show off a little bit, the Digital Boardroom will get your shoulders tapped.

But let’s take the customer side who is in his individual working reality in a situation where he is struggling to get his MRP-run through the limited timeframe in that every user in his One-System-Landscape worldwide actually sleeps. Of course he will also be impressed and inspired, but the Digital Boardroom will neither be the first item on his list of PROs for an S/4 implementation, nor it would be the first benefit he would attack to realize during implementation.

Especially if the workshop consists mainly of those big bullets of awesomeness and they hit a mid-size customer with a limited IT workforce, you can be sure they will be quite intimidating to him.

Both parties, sellers and prospective buyers, should resist the urge to talk exclusively about the fun-things that are thrilling and awesome but not the first cake on the plate. I always try to put a certain emphasis on an aspect that I call “consumable innovations”. Those are benefits that are the low hanging fruits on the innovation tree and can be put into practice right at the time of Go-Live or within the first year. And there is a lot to crop within the digital core.

I always try to put a certain emphasis on an aspect that I call “consumable innovations”. Those are benefits that are the low hanging fruits on the innovation tree and can be put into practice right at the time of Go-Live or within the first year. And there is a lot to crop within the digital core.

Since it is a principle of motivation to start with goals that are reachable on a short note and do good immediately you should have a prominent slot in your conversation with your customer for these “consumable innovation” items. What they are, of course, differs individually from customer to customer and his/her individual level of “potential” in each LoB. But this is the moment where you can show your empathy and competence in that customer’s business area.

Because, put all impressiveness and inspiration aside, in the end it will bring more short-term value to a customer to be able to do the easier to reach things like capacity planning right after go-life because of the codeployment of PP/DS with S/4HANA. Or using the MRP cockpit to work with scenarios and simulations to solve material shortages in real-time. You know what I am talking about.

Those are finally the little triggers that bring both parties faster to an agreement. Whenever you are talking about innovation, keep a sound balance between inspirational innovation and consumable innovation. Portion your prepared showcase portfolio to short- and mid/long term benefits that fit to the individual situation of the customer. Think about the individual customer specifics and choose wisely from the broad portfolio of benefits the digital core offers. Because something hit well with one customer, it may not have the same impact on another one since his circumstances may be different.

Whenever you are talking about innovation, keep a sound balance between inspirational innovation and consumable innovation. Portion your prepared showcase portfolio to short- and mid/long term benefits that fit to the individual situation of the customer.

Both of you will come out better from this workshop now. And much more satisfied. Because you found a mutual understanding.

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