José Duarte is effectively applying innovation to the SAP Services business in a way that stands to resonate throughout the industry, with a solid and favorable impact on customers. insiderPROFILES asked Duarte, who has been in customer-facing roles at SAP for nearly 20 years and took over the helm of the SAP Services organization in January 2011, about what SAP customers can expect from SAP Services.
José Duarte is steering the SAP Services organization to deliver customer success by:
- Delivering high-value services focused on realizing the expected value of SAP investments
- Lowering the total cost of ownership, time-to-value, and services-to-software ratio by engineered services
- Leading innovations for rapid, widespread market adoption
Q: When you talk about SAP implementations, upgrades, testing, and even innovation efforts, speed appears to be a prevailing theme. Why do you place so much emphasis on it, and is this bias shared by customers?
Customers do share this agenda. Speed matters. Prolonged deployments are costly. Lengthy optimization activities delay operational efficiencies and their associated savings. Clearly, there are advantages to those companies that successfully innovate faster than their competitors. It seems that nearly everything these days comes down to speed. The ability to quickly effect change is crucial to a successful business. I see a direct correlation between speed and our mission to maximize customer success. Our ability to do this will define our performance. This is why I am measuring our organization against improvements in speed and quality of execution.
Q: Which segments of the SAP Services organization will be measured against this new standard?
All segments. This mandate covers services that support all facets of SAP technology adoption, in every region, in every country.
Q: We’ve been schooled to believe that if it sounds too good to be true, be skeptical. What you’ve described is a seismic shift in service delivery. Realistically, how can this be effected?
The current services space revolves largely around a make-to-order model. I see a large percentage of projects reinventing the wheel for common tasks. Among these recurring tasks, there is no differentiation from one project to another. Instead, these tasks, which tend to be at the lower rungs of the value creation ladder, should be routinized. So we will effectively engineer these services, enable service providers to assemble them as needed, and in so doing, make these projects much faster and less costly.
You may have heard of SAP Rapid Deployment solutions. These solutions represent a new delivery model for SAP, one that leverages preconfigured software, best practices, and a fixed-scope and fixed-price implementation. The software is installed and up and running within a matter of weeks. Customers report that this approach makes purchasing and implementing solutions quick, easy, and entirely predictable.
SAP Rapid Deployment solutions are just one example. The same precepts apply to upgrades, system landscape optimization, testing procedures, and premium support offerings. In this way, we move from a make-to-order service delivery model to assemble-to-order services wherever possible.
“Mobility, in general, is one of the biggest areas of interest for SAP customers right now.”
— José Duarte, President of Global Services, SAP
Automating recurring activities enables us to focus more on tasks that create big returns for clients. These are the areas of focus that are not common across engagements and cater expressly to the unique requirements and objectives of each customer.
SAP will lead this industry transformation, taking an assemble-to-order approach by engineering common services for quality and peak efficiency and creating standards and assets that enable them to be combined and applied to new projects. By doing this, we can accelerate projects and time-to-value in a dramatic way while reducing the services-to-software ratio.
SAP deployments don’t have to be slow. They can be fast. Soon, I think speed and SAP will be synonymous. I’m not saying I can deliver this next week, but I can tell you that I’m banking everything I have on making this happen within the next few months.
Q: Many customers rely on partners, not just SAP, for services. What are the implications for these customers?
Customers can expect lower costs, greater transparency, and predictability of costs-of-service. The standards I’m referring to would not simply apply to SAP offerings, but would apply across our partner base too. Customers could then compare offerings and know in advance how long a project will take, what’s involved, and what it will cost.
Customers also benefit from a quality perspective. Any pre-engineered service or standard that SAP prescribes goes through rigorous quality checks. Whether a customer contracts with SAP or a certified partner for these types of services, they can expect clear, predictable outcomes. Fewer escalations, in turn, allow SAP to make a much greater investment in high-value services.
Q: What type of high-value services are you referring to?
Let me give you some examples. Customers often ask: “How can we make our operations run more smoothly, cheaply, and efficiently?” or “What’s the best way to integrate with our subsidiaries?” We provide services to help frame and answer these questions with clear recommendations — not just options.
Among customers, there is renewed focus and a sense of urgency to reinvest in their SAP backbone. I’m
referring here to applications such as ERP, customer relationship management, procurement, transportation management, and so on. Customers’ foundational systems have to be rock solid before adding the highly sought mobility and analytics layers. Providing direction to do this and meet evolving requirements is a high-value service that we provide.
We are also bringing back our industry focus. Vertical knowledge is one of the key pillars of our high-value services and a great bridge of knowledge from the business to technology.
Finally, there is architecture. We help customers answer the question: How do you want all the pieces of your applications and information landscape to work together in an orchestrated way and support your objectives while leveraging these new technologies?
Q: SAP is innovating with regard to in-memory, on-demand, and mobile technologies. What is the role of SAP Services as it relates to these innovations?
Our customers are looking for help to bring the latest SAP innovations to bear within their landscapes. I recently met with one customer that found itself saddled with an alarming amount of excess inventory. The organization wanted to launch a trade promotion management program, but the CIO told me,
“I have no time for this. What can you do this year to improve this situation?” We are now working on a project that marries the customer’s objectives for inventory reduction with trade promotion management, as well as a mobility project to empower the company’s sales force.
Mobility, in general, is one of the biggest areas of interest for SAP customers right now. But the simplicity and popularity of mobile devices saddles IT organizations with steep challenges. All of a sudden you have powerful information available to users in an easy-to-consume way. Customers come to us for help developing their mobility strategies.
Customers also want to dissect all of their enterprise information to make better-informed business decisions. We have technology that helps with this. It’s called SAP
In-Memory Appliance (SAP HANA). SAP HANA enables customers to crunch huge volumes of data in real time. Within the SAP Services organization, we have a group dedicated to predictive analytics and building algorithms on top of SAP HANA for customers.
The confluence of the structured world that you have with ERP and the unstructured world that you have coming out of mobility, web, and social media interactions is another example of a challenge that customers are now dealing with. How do you capture all that unstructured information and bring it within the context of your structured world, your supply chain, your financials — and make sense out of all of this chaos?
SAP Services is committed to being a market maker when it comes to these innovations. We are helping our customers leverage the full potential of these game changers.
Q: Any truth to the rumor that you personally visit over 200 SAP customers per year?
Talking with customers — and the relationships I’ve established with them — is the highlight of my work. It always has been. These conversations have been and remain a top priority for me. I like to get customers’ perspectives on what we can be doing better to lower TCO and speed up time-to-value from their SAP systems. Equally important are insights about how we help them with innovation and growth. Having seen the evolution of SAP over the past year, I know we’re heading in the right direction with offerings such as SAP Rapid Deployment solutions. And I can tell you that these are just the beginning as we enter a new year defined by speed and agility of service delivery.