Like many of my colleagues who have also shared their stories, I have now been working with SAP HANA for close to ten years. My story takes a bit of a different turn though – starting as a customer leading a strong team of early adopters to an early go-live in 2011 (the fourth in the world if I recall correctly).
Shortly after go-live, I found myself back at SAP working with our customers to identify the ways SAP HANA could change the way they do business. I spent about 6.5 years in a variety of customer-facing roles, ranging from Solution Engineer to Enterprise Architect to Innovation Leader. During this time, I had the great pleasure of experiencing first-hand some of the most progressive and best-run organizations in the world.
After working directly with our customers for a number of years, I was eager to see a different perspective and wanted to become a bit more involved in the product direction. So, in 2018, I joined the Solution Management team and the SAP HANA organization, where I am currently Vice President of SAP HANA and Database Solution Management.
The way I usually describe the role of our team is that we are the bridge between development and the field organization; we take ownership for packaging, pricing, and commercializing all the greatness that our development colleagues deliver and bring it to the field colleagues and subsequently our customers.
Looking back over the past few years, the most notable highlights for me come from the realization of customer success with our technologies and observing how SAP HANA completely transforms the way they do business.
One of my favorite experiences comes from a few years ago when I was still working closely on customer projects. This customer had spent a significant amount of time investigating the merits of the SAP HANA platform and, specifically, how it could change their data warehousing capabilities through virtual data models and real-time analytics. They were nearing an investment in this space when their world was turned upside down by a shift in market conditions that required them to refocus all their energy on data migration efforts. At this point our team could have easily walked away and shelved the data warehousing case for a later date, but the customer had a different idea. What if we could use SAP HANA to facilitate data migrations by enabling real-time replication from source systems and virtualizing transformations, thus eliminating complex ETL and batch latency in the data migration process? Within weeks, a vision, strategy, and architecture were prepared that would change the way the customer operated. Even better, within months, the customer was able to build and execute on this strategy – achieving the goal of reorganizing the company in previously unthinkable times that exceeded both management and even market expectations. When all was said and done, this customer had an enormous success, and they were left with a platform that could largely be repurposed into their data warehousing solution for the future – demonstrating the flexibility of the SAP HANA platform for different use cases.
That, for me, is the most rewarding part – watching them go live and have success with our platform. We could see the customer success. We could see the progress they made as a business, the transformation that they went through. We knew the platform was having a real, tangible benefit in their organization. And it’s so much more than just having a fast database, which is cool, but the true transformation comes in when you have a business process or activity that runs in a way you couldn’t previously imagine.
I have several stories that are like this one, and, although the customers had different use cases, in every situation, there was a moment when the “light” went on. There was a moment when they recognized that this was truly transformational for their business and that we were about to do something different from what they’d ever done before. Consequently, they could shift their mindset and think in new ways. The truly exciting part is watching them execute on that. SAP HANA has helped each of our customers in some way – they’re doing things differently and breaking into new territories.
The next new territory for our customers is the transition to the cloud – I have no doubt about that statement. What we’re doing with SAP HANA, and the way we’ve now introduced it as a true native service in the cloud, is another game changing evolution. But what I think is equally interesting about the cloud transformation is that we must continue to be creative commercially and think about how we bring that to the market in a way that eases the transition.
For me, the focus now is not just on having a unique service, but also a unique commercial model and a unique way of helping customers make the transition to the cloud at their desired pace. It’s about helping them bridge the gap between on-premises and the cloud from both a technical and commercial perspective. Continuing to support our customers through that transition is the next big thing for me and I’m as excited as ever about the future of business with SAP HANA.