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You've Identified the Business Need. Now How Long Will It Take You to Find the Right Solution? Compress Your Software Buying Cycle with SAP EcoHub

by Rajeev Kak | SAPinsider

April 1, 2010

Buying new enterprise software is a long process, typically averaging six-to-nine months. Using SAP EcoHub, you can compress that process to weeks. Learn how this online solution marketplace enables you to more efficiently discover, evaluate, and buy software — and how you can get started.
 

Say your company wants to purchase a new piece of enterprise software. The process typically starts when a line-of-business worker identifies a business problem (or a new opportunity to create market differentiation), and its solution (or its realization) involves a technology buy.

From there, the office of the CIO usually faces the task of uncovering the various solution options available in the market. A few recommendations may come in from the actual users or business owners, but many companies struggle to discern: How do we know that we’ve considered all our options? Most just rely on their consultants or peer networks for assurance that they’ve considered all available products.

Next, a multi-disciplinary team of business users, IT professionals, and procurement specialists start conducting a lengthy screening process — they schedule product demos with multiple vendors, build proofs of concept, and shape a comprehensive requirements document that gets circulated to a few short-listed vendors. Finally, you choose a vendor, and the negotiations begin.

All told, this drawn-out process averages six-to-nine months, not to mention the time it takes to actually deploy the solution, which can be six months at best. And by the time the solution is deployed, market conditions may have changed or new regulations may have been issued, forcing the team back to the drawing board with new requirements.

Compress the Buying Cycle While Retaining the Quality of Its Results

SAP EcoHub changes the game by compressing the software buying process. It’s an online solution marketplace that allows customers to discover, evaluate, and buy enterprise software solutions offered by SAP and its ecosystem of partners, developers, and consultants — a one-stop shop, if you will (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 SAP EcoHub arms customers with information to streamline the software buying process

Discover Innovative Solutions Faster

SAP EcoHub encompasses a comprehensive portfolio of solutions offered by software, services, and technology providers in the SAP ecosystem. Customers can navigate to the set of solutions they’re looking for in numerous ways (see Figure 2):

  • By industry, line of business, or solution type
  • By the Other Topics of Interest section, which serves up solutions applicable to specific topic areas, including sustainability and perfect plant
  • By keyword searches, which can be narrowed down even further through the use of filters such as geographical availability and certification levels

All search results provide a targeted list of solutions (including short descriptions) to help you determine if, at a high level, an offering will meet your needs.

Figure 2 Users can find solutions on SAP EcoHub in various ways

Evaluate Solutions by Leveraging Ecosystem Expertise

To help users fully understand the capabilities of the solutions they find on SAP EcoHub, each solution has a dedicated storefront that includes solution-specific information and content, including overviews of capabilities and benefits, brochures, technical briefs, white papers, customer success stories, customer videos, Webcasts, and more — comprehensive resources that can help customers thoroughly evaluate each solution.

Customers can download this information anonymously with no concern about follow-up sales calls from the solution providers. They can also watch demos (if provided) after filling out a registration form. Here, solution providers typically follow up to discuss further interest.

In addition to the information that solution vendors provide, there’s a vibrant community angle on SAP EcoHub: The site features an interactive ratings system, and users can read reviews and feedback from industry experts, business process experts, consultants, and experienced customers. All posted reviews are accompanied by a business card identifying the reviewer, so you can reference the reviewer’s profile, including his or her history of posts and blogs. Users can also navigate to ongoing conversations in SAP Community Network that may be relevant to the specific solution under evaluation, giving users an opportunity to engage with the nearly 2 million active members of the community.

Recognizing that enterprise software purchase decisions are usually team and committee decisions, SAP EcoHub also enables users to share solution storefronts with their peers and colleagues through a single click that connects them through email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, and other social media networking options.

Buy from Qualified, Trusted Partners

The last step in the software buying cycle involves engaging providers to verify that a particular solution will work within your current infrastructure, will have a reasonably low cost of ownership, and will help enhance the return on your SAP investment. Accordingly, SAP EcoHub offers industry benchmarking services and provides comprehensive certification details to help ensure that you’re choosing the best solution for your specific needs.1

SAP EcoHub can compress a company’s software buying and adoption cycle from months to weeks.

3 Ways to Get Involved

SAP EcoHub is a community-powered software marketplace. Your active participation — and that of partners, developers, and experts across the SAP ecosystem — will make SAP EcoHub an even more valuable, reliable, and relevant online community. Here are three quick ways to start participating:

  1. If you have not already been to the site, visit it today at http://ecohub.sap.com. Check out the “Getting Started” section first.
  2. Sign up for the quarterly SAP EcoHub Newsletter by clicking on the “Subscribe” button at http://ecohub.sap.com.
  3. Send feedback to EcoHub_solutions@sap.com. We are actively and constantly looking to make SAP EcoHub more relevant for our customers.

Rajeev Kak (rajeev.kak@sap.com) is Senior Director of Global Ecosystem Marketing and heads SAP EcoHub Marketing at SAP. He has an outstanding record of driving revenue, developing new strategic opportunities, driving notable marketing campaigns, and bringing new products to market to achieve consistent year-over-year growth.

1 SAP EcoHub pulls relevant details from SAP’s certification logs, documenting a solution’s level of integration with the SAP platform and applications. [back]

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