For ERP Buyers, this is the best of times, this is the worst of times
Charles Dickens said in “A tale of Two Cities”:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
I cannot imagine what it is like these days to make a selection for an ERP system. It is the best of times, because you literally have 1000 of sites and sources delivering information instantly and free of charge. It is the worst of times exactly for the same reasons. In a time, where competence and experience are being substituted by fame and acclamation as criteria for credibility in the “interwebs” and social media universes, it must be extremely difficult to find trusted information to make a selection you can feel sure about. The last 24 months of quarantines and restrictions have not made things easier, since the face to face on-site interactions like design thinking sessions, requirement definitions and architectural white-boarding with experts have been reduced to a minimum.
What to do?
I believe that the SAP community with now more than 3 million registered users can add a lot of value here. Today, this is mostly a place where people come with product related questions to get answers and advice from SAP, but also from peers, partners and experts from across the globe. In the consumer marketplace, it has long become standard practice to rely on peer reviews, crowd-sourced how-to videos and user communities to add to the value proposition of the products and make people feel secure in their choice before they actually commit to buying a product.
While ERP is not a consumer product, and will never be purchased with a credit-card swipe at the spur of the moment, many aspects of consumer product communities can be applied. We believe that there is much potential to make the SAP Community Network more attractive for potential buyers to join the SAP community in the selection process: be it new buyers for ERP or existing customers evaluating a move to a new solution or looking to expand their solution coverage. It is a WWW (Win-Win-Win) scenario:
Win for Prospects: They can see what questions are being asked by other companies, making their selection process potentially more robust
Win for Partners: They can attach to relevant threads and show their competence relative to a problem, industry or solution are at hand.
Win for SAP. We can see evaluation questions at a global level and can orchestrate conversations with the relevant experts in an informal, low pressure, self-service process that allows the evaluation to occur at the pace the customer chooses
I might be wrong, but having seen the ERP buying process evolve over the past 20 years, I believe the SAP community is one of the strongest elements of the value proposition of becoming an SAP customer. But I am sure, there are many things we can do better from a content, interaction and format perspective. I’d like to learn about your thoughts.
What do you think? How can we make the SAP community even stronger when it comes to helping you make your selection for the ERP solution scope that is right for you?
I look forward to your comments