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The Best Investment: You've Invested in SAP Software — Now Maximize Its Value Through the SAP Ecosystem

by Steve Graham | SAPinsider

October 1, 2009

How can you get the most from your SAP investment? Here are five common challenges, and guidance on how you can use the SAP ecosystem to maximize the value of your investment in SAP solutions.

SAP customers are always looking for ways to get more from their investment in SAP solutions. It’s just good business sense. Although there are many ways to accomplish this goal, there’s one that is often overlooked, and it’s right at your fingertips — literally.

Type into any browser, and you will be propelled into a world of community-based insight, innovative partner solutions, and industry-leading collaboration and co-innovation; a virtual resource that gives you the knowledge you need to extract the greatest possible value from your SAP investment.

Entering the SAP Ecosystem

The SAP ecosystem expands the value SAP provides its customers beyond software and services. It’s truly an orchestration of relationships and resources involving SAP, customers, partners, and individuals.

By plugging into the ecosystem, customers can accelerate innovation and maximize their ROI, effectively “turbo-charging” the overall SAP experience. While helping many companies achieve breakthrough results today, the ecosystem also provides an ongoing resource companies can tap into whenever they need it. In this way, it provides reassurance: There is a good chance that someone in the ecosystem is tackling issues you haven’t yet encountered, but may need help with in the future.

Within the SAP ecosystem, not only can customers explore product offerings from SAP and its partners, they can also engage with other customers and knowledge experts to overcome project and implementation challenges, educate themselves on best practices, and find the ideal match between talent and solution. Customers can see where their SAP investment stands today and where it needs to be in the future. It’s a place where they can grow their SAP skills, promote collaboration among their peers, and leverage that knowledge to influence future SAP solution enhancements.

Achieving the Full Value of SAP Software

In the technology industry, the term “ecosystem” is often equated with a vendor’s partner program. At SAP, it’s much more. The SAP ecosystem is a rich environment where the emphasis is on information sharing and exchange between customers, SAP professionals, SAP, and, yes, solution providers and partners as well.

There is deep and substantial value to be mined from the ecosystem. But where should you start? Figure 1 lists five questions to help your company leverage the value of the SAP ecosystem. These suggestions will help you find the resources you need, evaluate them for their fit with your landscape, and implement them using readily available best practices and tools.

Share, Learn, and Adapt

To extract the maximum value from your SAP solutions, I highly recommend that you not only join the SAP ecosystem, but participate in it. The exchange of knowledge, information, and best practices helps everyone within the ecosystem find success on their own terms.

The SAP ecosystem resources mentioned in Figure 1 provide a great start, but be sure to visit to learn more. There you will also find customer references that outline how organizations maximized their SAP investment through the SAP ecosystem.

A Clear Path to Value: 5 Common Challenges and How You Can Address Them Through the SAP Ecosystem

Challenge/opportunity Solution Action steps

1) Are you confident that your staff is leveraging the latest industry best practices for your SAP solutions?

SAP Community Network
With 2 million members, 5 million posts, 1 million forum discussion threads, and 4,800 blogs (all searchable), SAP communities are the most exhaustive source for answers to questions about SAP solutions. If your project teams aren’t leveraging communities, then they’re likely re-inventing the wheel.

Recommend that every member of your SAP team register to join the SAP Community Network.

Have project teams incorporate an exploration of community resources in the discovery phase of each project.

2) Does your company have a strong voice in the global SAP community (one that can influence where SAP is taking its solutions)?

SAP Top Contributors and Mentors
Is any member of your staff an SAP mentor or top contributor? SAP mentors are an elite group of high-value community members, and they get special access to SAP senior management and information on the future roadmap of SAP products.

Enterprise Services Community
Customers, partners, and SAP collaborate through the Enterprise Services Community (ESC) to define enterprise services interfaces. In enhancement packages 3 and 4, more than 50% of included services were developed based on ESC suggestions. Participation gives you a direct voice in SAP enhancements.

SAP Customer Value Networks
Customers come together through SAP customer value networks to exchange ideas on industry/solution best practices and trends. Solution-focused experts deliver workshops and other field programs to drive value in specific solution areas.

Find out where your company and your key SAP experts rank in the SAP Community Network top contributor list (link from the contributors corner).

Recognize top contributors in your company to encourage community participation.

Have your team review the list of active ESC groups and join the ones most important to your company.

Go to the SAP customer value network home page to see if there’s a network of interest to your company.

3) Is your company building competitive advantage by leveraging innovative offerings from SAP partners?

SAP Partners
SAP works closely with a vast global network of expert partners including services, software, technology, channel, and support partners. Through programs like SAP PartnerEdge and initiatives like SAP Co-Innovation Labs, partners collaborate with SAP to create innovative solutions that help customers succeed.

SAP Solution Extensions
SAP works with select independent software partners to offer compelling offerings called solution extensions. These 26 solutions provide additional functionality to complement the implementation and deployment of your existing solutions.

Read customer reference stories at to learn 
more about the value that SAP partners provide.
Learn more about available solution extensions by visiting extensions. 
Visit SAP EcoHub at to learn more about individual solution extensions. 

Read customer reference stories to learn more about the value that SAP partners provide.

Learn more about available solution extensions here.

Visit SAP EcoHub to learn more about individual solution extensions.

4) Are you doing everything you can to lower your total cost of operations?

SAP-Certified Partners, Solutions, and Consultants  
SAP believes (and research supports) that certification improves implementation success and lowers TCO. SAP has more than 1,800 partner and ISV solution certifications for integration with SAP applications, and there are over 160,000 SAP-certified consultants worldwide. Certified Run SAP partners, for example, have demonstrated and attained capabilities to optimize the implementation, upgrade, and ongoing management of end-to-end solution operations. Using certified solutions and consultants, you get more from your technology investments.

Have your SAP teams learn more about the SAP certification program and the impact of using certified solutions and consultants.

Learn more about the Run SAP methodology and what it means when partners have achieved Run SAP certification.

5) Has your company turned to the SAP ecosystem to help identify the right solution for you?

SAP EcoHub
SAP EcoHub is an online marketplace to discover, evaluate, and buy solutions from the SAP ecosystem. It provides community-based feedback and ratings, as well as product demos, solution certification levels, and integration requirement details to help you make better-informed decisions and, ultimately, choose the right solution.

Ensure your project teams start with SAP EcoHub to find solutions that solve their business needs.

Have your staff contribute to the ratings and comments about any of the listed solutions on SAP EcoHub so others will benefit from your experience.  

Figure 1 How can you get the most from your SAP investment? Here are five common challenges, and guidance on how you can use the SAP ecosystem to maximize the value of your investment in SAP solutions. For more information, visit

Steve Graham ( is the Vice President of Global Ecosystem Marketing at SAP AG. Prior to joining SAP, Steve led IDC’s Global Software Business Strategies practice. He has published research and delivered presentations on topics including technology ecosystems, partner-to-partner networks, software industry globalization, shifting technology industry business models, and intellectual property trends in the software industry.

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