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Article - Evolution or Revolution

by Chris Larsen | SAPinsider

June 1, 2000

by Chris Larsen, SAP America, Inc. SAPinsider - 2000 (Volume 1), June (Issue 1)

When the editors of SAP Insider approached me with the question, "Does represent an evolution or revolution for SAP customers?" it was clear to me that a lot of work still lies ahead in establishing the brand! We need to make it clear that represents an evolution, not a revolution. Personally, I associate a lot of unpleasant imagery with the term "revolution." Revolutions happen overnight, with little or no warning, and are typically accompanied by a lot of pain, suffering, and innocent casualties.

     That's not the case with! is the next natural evolution of our powerful solution offering, but the difference is that it is happening at Internet speed. With this initiative, we leverage the enabling power of the Internet with the established powerful infrastructure of our customers' SAP-anchored business processes. Customers determine the rate of speed with which they embrace this technology. We deliver it in a componentized fashion, which is supported by both our technology and software licensing.¹ You can place the Workplace on just a few desktops, or jump right in and implement full-blown B2B and collaborative Marketplace scenarios, which speak to the real heart of customers' concerns these days.

     What's the #1 Concern Among SAP Customers? Retaining and Growing Their Customer Base

Without question, the #1 priority among SAP's customers is how to retain and grow their base of customers. That's really at the root of both the fear and the fascination that the Internet holds for many customer-focused organizations. Since the Internet doesn't require a new competitor to make a huge investment of infrastructure and "bricks and mortar," worries exist about competitors appearing overnight and market share suddenly slipping away.

     So our customers have been asking us, "How do I protect the customer base that I already have, while making sure I grab the opportunity to build greater market share or to capitalize on new channels that I couldn't reach before?" This is a marked departure from the priorities that dominated our industry just a few years ago.

evolution n. A progress in which something gradually changes into a different and usually improved form.
revolution n. An abrupt or radical change in a process, belief, or manner of thinking.

     In the 90s, customer focus was on cost reduction, shorter reaction times, and operational efficiency. This school of thought said, "Streamline internal processes, and you gain a competitive edge in the marketplace." But now, in 2000, as we begin a new decade, customers are looking outward, not inward, at value-creation business processes. Static supply chains will soon be a thing of the past. To retain and grow one's customer base in an Internet economy, supply chains must be based on dynamic, collaborative business processes that let organizations work faster and smarter with suppliers, partners, distributors, and, most important, their customers. There's no doubt about it: Web-enabled, collaborative supply-chain applications will soon become the dominant model. provides the solutions to take you there. The Workplace, Marketplace, Business Scenarios, and Application Hosting solutions can rapidly make a customer's existing business processes ready for secure and reliable operation in a Web-driven world. You can't simply create a Web site for customers or suppliers. That Internet presence must be tightly integrated with your backend business processes. You not only must be able to take an order over the Internet, you've got to be able to quickly fulfill that order. Otherwise, you're just one click away from losing a customer rather than building a stronger customer relationship! This is especially true for business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer scenarios.

     For example, consider a supply-chain partner who has stripped down his safety-stock inventory levels to the bare minimum because he feels he can depend on rapid-turnaround delivery of your materials. Yes, he's squeezed inefficiencies out of his process, but at the cost of making himself vulnerable to the integrity of the collaborative business solution between his enterprise and yours. If the solution fails him, he's still on the hook to his customers - and, more than likely, now looking for someone else to do business with.

     The stakes surrounding the issue of data integrity and systems reliability have never been higher, and therein lies the wealth of experience in business process integration that differentiates SAP and our deliverables from all others. This is what distinguishes a mature, high-tech company like SAP from the numerous dot-com companies that are cropping up everywhere, delivering "revolutionary" new solutions, new technologies, new platforms, and new tools. Is Still Evolving builds upon customers' existing business processes, enabling organizations to participate in collaborative business processes. And it's still evolving: within the next year, wireless or pervasive computing will dominate our e-business discussions. Yes, the focus right now is on the Web browser, but in the near future, employees of our customers - whether they are sales people, service technicians, or even executives - aren't going to be sitting in front of a browser. People on a plant manufacturing floor will have a wearable or handheld device with which they will be communicating to the transactional databases. Sales reps will be able to look at customer contact information and place orders over their cell phones. This is not a daydream; these are the kinds of applications and solutions that we're just beginning to deploy for a few customers. And frankly, it takes a vendor with SAP's resources and experience to make these kinds of advances happen.

Building the Brand

Every strong sales organization understands the importance of a strong brand, and building a powerful brand is an evolutionary process as well. SAP is taking a number of steps to clarify and expand the reach of the brand.

     With the rollout of a global campaign, leveraging both traditional and Web-based media (perhaps you saw our ads during the Academy Awards telecast), we will heighten the overall industry awareness. Any imagery, messaging, and communication from SAP will now emanate from a coordinated and consistent branding strategy.

     We intend to achieve a global, consistent positioning of what is and what it can really do for you, and to clearly and effectively communicate how can help a company leverage its existing investments in R/3 infrastructure.

     By the end of 2000, I am confident that in the US marketplace, SAP America will achieve almost half of our overall revenues from opportunities. This will include upgrading existing customers to take advantage of the role-based workplaces, deploying additional functionality of Web-based procurement and selling scenarios, and application hosting of accelerated solutions. That's an aggressive projection for an initiative that's literally right out of the starting gate. But considering the fact that the footprint is becoming so pervasive throughout all of SAP's solutions, it's hard to say where a "traditional" SAP solution stops and a solution begins - all of which speaks to the evolutionary nature of the initiative.

¹ New customers are now purchasing licenses. Existing customers who are upgrading have a choice: they can either upgrade their existing license with a appendix, or they can simply convert to a license, which covers a much broader range of SAP offerings, including the core product, new dimension products, and products.

Chris Larsen joined SAP America, Inc., in 1993, and was appointed President in December 1999. As President of SAP America, Larsen is responsible for overseeing all field operations in the United States, which include sales, presales, consulting, partner management, industry marketing, and solution development for all the industry business sectors.

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9/24/2018 6:25:24 AM

I wonder what updates did this get considering all the time that past