In today’s world of enterprise software, there is an across-the-board expectation for more personalized services. Specific to software, the transition to cloud changes everything. The customer experience is now sacrosanct, measured far less by the initial sale than by ongoing adoption and use of the product to optimize business processes and take the customer on a transformation journey. At SAP, a strong focus on the overall customer experience plays a major role in helping deliver a platform for success and innovation that is the foundation of the intelligent enterprise.
In this exclusive Q&A, SAPinsider interviewed Carlos Granda, Senior Vice President, Global Customer Success for Cloud, SAP Digital Business Services, to learn more about how SAP and partners are helping customers successfully migrate to the cloud. Carlos shares how SAP Digital Business Services can help with adoption, implementation, and enablement of cloud, including key services like SAP Value Assurance and SAP Model Company. He also discusses the importance of standardized cloud implementations for customers, culture and mindset changes, and what precisely it means to transform to an intelligent enterprise.
Q: How is the definition of customer success changing in this intelligent enterprise evolution?
A: The ongoing transition from on-premise to cloud solutions has forced traditional software companies to rethink the very definition of customer success. It’s no longer about celebrating go-live as the crowning achievement, but rather celebrating adoption and consumption of the solution. To enable this shift, SAP recognizes the need to simplify and evolve our portfolio for our customers. It’s important that off-the-shelf cloud products support customers’ business requirements as their on-premise equivalents, which is why the focus has shifted to driving adoption of standardized implementations.
This shift in focus is driven in large part because software deployments in a cloud world are not multi-year projects like traditional on-premise software. The goal is to get customers to go live as quickly as possible so they can begin to optimize processes and extract value from the new solution. The SAP Digital Business Services team has also evolved to support customers in this journey, focusing on a methodology that helps customers better understand the value of cloud, driving change management, and prioritizing business outcomes as their primary driver for success. The intelligent enterprise is a journey not a destination.
And let’s be clear about what that means: An intelligent enterprise builds upon the promise of digital transformation by using data-driven intelligence to drive better business outcomes based on superior insights. By applying innovation — such as artificial intelligence and machine learning — businesses can enable employees to focus on higher-value work and accelerate value creation.
Q: Where specifically do SAP customers need help in their in journeys, and where should they start?
A: In this journey to the intelligent enterprise, there is no pre-defined path; rather, it’s more like an open highway with many on-ramps that will all eventually further customers along their journey. The entryway can be via any cloud solution or even as a traditional on-premise SAP solution. Our mission is to help customers plot that roadmap, which is becoming more about change management, creating a new culture and mindset, and helping customers see how cloud is a springboard to innovation. SAP is taking the transformation around the cloud mindset very seriously by helping customers to understand cloud economics, providing the right guidance, insight, and the latest technology know-how to help them optimize their return on investment and business value. We also set up initial project benchmarks and then measure and track them periodically to ensure they are getting value at every stage.
Our partners are key in this mission to drive overall customer success, business outcomes, and digital transformation. A partner-first mentality and a collaborative approach is very important to ensure the success of our projects; if you look at SAP SuccessFactors solutions, for example, optimizing the solutions often means changing recruiting, hiring, promoting, or talent management processes. This is where SAP’s knowledge shines, but we also rely on partners or system integrators because — when you look at how those processes relate to, say, a specific industry, regulatory compliance, or capacity planning — that’s where a partner or system integrator’s expertise comes in. The importance of partners is why our customer success strategy focuses on developing services that complement our partners’ services to enable customer success in any cloud project.
Q: How do customers engage with cloud services offered by SAP Digital Business Services?
A: The SAP Value Assurance for Cloud service, for example, is brought into the fold when a customer is working on a cloud project with a partner; it is a value-added collaborative model that a customer uses to maximize the value of the SAP cloud solution by bringing in the right SAP solution expertise and tools to complement the partner’s services. It is essential for SAP and the partner to work together to help customers achieve their desired outcomes as fast as possible — even in complex hybrid-cloud deployments. This is the promise of the cloud. Our services, such as the SAP Value Assurance for Cloud service, are designed to facilitate collaboration and accountability among SAP, the partner, and the customer to ensure we are all laser-focused on the customer’s desired outcomes.
Our SAP Model Company service is a value-added kick-starter approach that helps our customers adopt leading practices and processes that not only expedite their deployment and adoption, but also enable customers to accelerate process improvements more quickly. SAP Model Company is a collection of leading practices and processes gathered from thousands of successful implementations to enable customers to adopt a standard solution using the very best practices and processes available. All these practices and processes are available in a standard cloud solution that can reduce the time to go live with a robust solution by almost 70%.
Q: How are you measuring customer success with cloud services today?
A: Customer success now is having a very rapid approach and a consistent feedback loop focused on business-value- and outcome-related milestones between customers, SAP, and partners to ensure we are going down the right path.
When we think about customer success, it’s more than just from a financials perspective of hitting on-time and on-budget goals. We carefully measure and evaluate customer statistics, including the achievement of key value indicators defined during the onboarding process to ensure the customer is at the center of every stage of the project from initial strategy to go live and beyond.
Q: Is there an example of a customer success that you find particularly exciting?
A: One customer, a North American technology company based in Seattle, Washington, is undergoing what will potentially be the largest SAP SuccessFactors global rollout, transitioning hundreds of thousands of global employees from on-premise SAP ERP Human Capital Management to the SAP SuccessFactors suite. When this customer started its journey, one of the key challenges as a global organization was understanding the different regulations that every country, region, and government has in place related to employee compliance and regulatory laws. To help solve this, the customer engaged a large global systems integrator to bring expertise on health insurance legislation and other compliance-related regulations. However, due to the deep product expertise and knowledge of future roadmaps needed to ensure success, the organization also needed access to SAP cloud services as a collaborative partner. Our team complemented its transformation by providing guidance on the right path forward, product insights for the SAP SuccessFactors solutions, and the latest technology know-how for SAP Leonardo and artificial intelligence.
This collaboration between the customer, partner, and SAP resulted in an implementation that was fast and very well done. Many customers want to boil the ocean, because they think it’s the biggest bang for their buck. We always advise organizations to start small regardless of their size, follow industry standards and successful leading practices to speed results, and let those happy users help drive the adoption inside the organization. The customer took our guidance and did just that, and as a result, was able to simplify business processes, move faster through the implementation, and ultimately drive incredible employee satisfaction.
The next phase for this partnership is to leverage artificial intelligence technology as a part of its internal employee portal to provide an even better customer experience and satisfaction.
Q: What does the recent announcement of SAP C/4HANA mean for cloud services?
A: We are building a simplified portfolio to support the vision around the fourth-generation of customer relationship management, enabling more than just nice front-end dashboards or effective sales tools, but rather delivering a holistic customer experience from the sales order to consumption over the product life cycle.
The keen focus on customer experience affirms our cloud services strategy and evolution into a services portfolio dedicated solely on helping our customers succeed in their end-to-end cloud journeys, with a focus on maximizing value and embracing innovation. The message surrounding the intelligent enterprise validates the impact we can have for customers on this journey.
Everyone at SAP, including our team, is now thinking, breathing, and driving customer success. At the end of the day, no matter how easy or difficult a decision is — if we make it for the benefit of our customers, then we undoubtedly are making the right decision.