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SAPinsider Kicks Off 2019 Event: Day 1 Wrap-Up

Welcome to my first blog as a new member of the SAPinsider team! After spending more than 20 years as an author, presenter, consultant, and overall advocate for the SAP reporting and analytics toolset — always with the goal of helping to make the implementation of these tools something done FOR the business rather than TO the business — today, I’ve joined SAPinsider as Vice President and Research Director focusing on the SAP Analytics space. And while you will see much from me in the coming weeks, months, and years, my first task is to update you on the happenings at the SAPinsider #BIHANA2019, #Financials2019 and #HR2019 events co-located this week in Las Vegas. More than 2,000 attendees have come together, representing over 400 organizations across industries, sectors, and geographies. The combined exhibit hall is showcasing 70+ service and solution providers.

Jamie Bedard opened the Day 1 Keynote by welcoming the attendees to this 17th annual event — but his first as President and CEO of SAPinsider. His warm welcome and thank you to all was followed by a brief discussion of the changes and enhancements that he is bringing to the SAPinsider organization and to its more than 300,000 members … a new energy and focus on engagement, interactivity, research, and bringing together the business need and a case for action with the latest SAP technology.

Jamie handed the presentation to Rizal Ahmed, Chief Research Officer for SAPinsider, who talked about the current trends around the adoption of SAP HANA. This platform is at the heart of so many decision points for SAP customers and is obviously a huge focal point (and looming deadline) for the entire SAP customer base and ecosystem.

Riz introduced Alison Biggan, President of Corporate Marketing for SAP, to talk about the Intelligent Enterprise. As Alison so rightly pointed out — we all take for granted the ease of use of technology in our personal lives, but we don’t see that same level of usability and enablement in our enterprise technology. At least not yet. Alison showed an example of capabilities enabled by Co-Pilot for simple, intuitive, and powerful conversational capabilities that can be executed anywhere your phone is (poolside, Alison?).

Ivo Totev, President LPOB Marketing for SAP, next talked about SAP’s commitment to moving forward with a perspective of “Make a Promise; Keep a Promise.”  This involves more than just making the technology faster; it’s about improving the user experience and enabling intelligent automation to remove the mundane and non-value-adding tasks and freeing up precious time.

Alison then moderated a panel discussion bringing together perspectives from SAP (Ivo), a key partner (Darwin Deano, CTO for Deloitte), and a key customer (Ryan Muller, Senior SAP Business Systems Analyst for MOD Pizza). While these three represent different aspects of the ecosystem, they had similarities in their messaging, lessons learned, and visions for the future:

  • A shift in mindset is necessary for change — of processes AND technology.
  • The SAP HANA platform should not be viewed in a technical vacuum. “Upgrading” to S/4HANA is not your good ole fashion “throw it in over a weekend” upgrade.
  • Competitive advantage can be doing something your competitors cannot, or it can be understanding your customers and vendors better. Data, data, data.
  • The future will bring more automation, better interaction capabilities, and better intelligence so your users gain actionable insights at the point of interaction.
  • And we are entering the “age of with” (to borrow a phrase from Darwin Deano) … humans WITH machines, efficiencies WITH value. Echoed by the panel is that the advent of advanced machine learning and automation technology does not mean that we (the humans) are no longer a necessary part of the process. Quite the contrary — oversight and management by thinking, breathing HUMANS becomes more critical than ever.

A major takeaway from the keynote address … No one, no part of the SAP ecosystem, is safe from the disruption of S/4HANA. But remember folks, disruption is not distortion nor disaster. Disruption changes the paradigm (hello Uber and Airbnb) and breaks down what you think are the hard limits of what can be done.

Before releasing everyone to the exhibit hall and sessions, Jamie came back on stage for one last bit of business … giving away Final Four tickets (yes, I’m serious) to one lucky attendee. Cue the drumroll and anticipation as the name was called. And you won’t believe this (no, I didn’t win them L ) … the announced winner was not in the audience to come on stage and collect the prize! Never been a better time to win the consolation bracket, because the next name called WAS in the audience and SHE was thrilled!! And no, I’m not telling you who won because a) I don’t want you to call her to beg your way to Final Four weekend, b) she may not have told her boss yet LOL and c) if you want to get Final Four tickets for yourself COME TO THE CONFERENCE NEXT YEAR and maybe you will win!

The remainder of Day 1 was a whirlwind of dozens upon dozens of well-attended and highly informative sessions from partners, exhibitors, and most importantly, customers. All talking about these same topics: driving innovation — not just migrating technology — enabling and empowering the business. Some talked about what they ARE DOING or HAVE DONE (UnderArmour, Lockheed Martin, and the San Francisco 49ers, to name a few), and others talked about what add-on TOOLS or SOLUTIONS can be leveraged to their implementation of the HANA platform to make it better, faster, easier.

The day concluded with a welcome reception, complete with appetizers and adult beverages in the exhibit hall, where the attendees could meet, network, and connect with each other. Because in THAT is the true strength and benefit of being an SAPinsider.




7 Tips for a Successful CRM or CXM Initiative

When it comes to CRM and CXM-related initiatives, a lot should happen BEFORE addressing the technology

The older your company is, the tougher your CRM or CXM project might be – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are like most older organizations, you have all kinds of “home-grown” ways of doing things. You’ve cobbled together a patchwork of data sources and reports. You’ve customized things over the years, and no one is even sure why you do certain things the way that you do – they’ve just “always been done that way.” What is in your legacy system can lead to problems when it comes time to implement a new CRM system.

“A very, very young company typically has a much easier time of implementing in general than an old company with many years and much legacy, because they’ve simply got this huge number of business rules and agreements of strange kinds that they somehow need to cope with,” Christian Elgaard, Director & IT Advisor, Implement Consulting Group, said during a recent chat with the SAPinsider Customer Experience Management (CXM) team. “So, this is really something that you should try to address very early in the process and try to trigger this discussion about, ‘How would we be working if we weren’t considering all the legacy stuff we are carrying with us?’”

That is just one example why CRM or CXM projects can fail. When it comes to CRM specifically, Elgaard says he sometimes sees customers undergo multiple CRM implementations, because they say, “SAP didn’t work, or Salesforce didn’t work, or Microsoft didn’t work.” Perhaps the sales reps say the tools just don’t work for the way they do their jobs. “So, they say, ‘We’ve got to buy something else,’” Elgaard said.

Best-of-breed technology is not to blame. “You can take any of the top CRM suites and implement them successfully in any company,” Elgaard said. The problems stem from what happens BEFORE the technology piece is addressed.

To help companies succeed, Elgaard suggests customers focus less on the technology, and more on people and process. “Problems won’t disappear by implementing technology,” he said. Thousands of hours are spent exploring vendors and discussing detailed requirements when the discussion should have been completely different, Elgaard said.

Elgaard suggests customers explore a benefits realization process. Here, SAPinsider offers some strategies for better CRM and CXM project outcomes based on our conversation with Elgaard.

  • Instead of “what we used to do”, think “What should we be doing?”  
    “I find it very important to address the legacy in a very early stage because what we very often see is that the whole task of migrating whatever it is that you have today onto the new platform or solution is driving a lot of complexity into the project,” Elgaard said. Companies often try to hold onto “old” data and processes that no longer really fit, and it defines how they work with the system moving forward (which can set it up to fail).  “The more you can leave behind or somehow manage it in another way other than having to bring it into the new CRM or CXM solution, the better your possibilities of making a clean cut and sticking to standard.”  But it does require a great amount of change in behavior. Rather than saying, “This is what we used to do,” Elgaard advises wiping the board clean and starting over again, asking the question, “What should we be doing?” Then, take a look at your legacy and see what you can do to make it available without compromising what you agreed was the best way in moving forward.

  • Make sure you understand what your company really needs.
    Elgaard said he had one client that had several departments with customer service functions that they wanted to merge. “To do so they needed to create a customer 360-view because they had all sorts of systems with different kinds of data in it and they want to bring it together,” he said. “Somebody came to the conclusion, ‘Customer 360 — that’s CRM,’ — so they went out and bought CRM because they thought that was what they needed for the purpose. But what they really needed was some sort of portal.” Elgaard said whenever he speaks to a company about CRM or CXM, he typically asks them what they understand about CRM and CXM solutions, and what picture they have about CRM and CXM.

  • Technology will not solve your problem, even when every single requirement of a project is delivered.
    One of the reasons CRM projects go wrong is that there is a huge gap between the request that’s being put forth by the business, and what it is they wish to achieve with it, Elgaard said. “They are very quickly coming to the conclusion that whatever problem it is they have it can be resolved if only they get this CRM solution, but it seems as if they completely forget everything else that has to they have to bring in place,” Elgaard said. “They haven’t really connected the dots in order to deliver those benefits. They’ve just made a decision to implement some software and then they sit down and wait for the benefits to play out in front of them.” It rarely goes that way, because in order to reap those benefits you need to make a lot of other adjustments in your organization, in your behaviors, and in your way of working with clients, he said.
  • Develop a benefits realization process and make it measurable 
    What we tend to see is somebody defining a purpose and concluding that this purpose is delivered through these project deliverables, and that is typically some sort of functionality that is needed,” Elgaard said. Elgaard said you have to dig one step further, into what he called the “black hole of benefits realization.” He outlined a benefits realization process, which indicates that in order to deliver your intended purpose, you have bring with it certain benefits that are measurable. Additionally, new behaviors are needed. For example, it could be a new way sales reps are organized or work in the field. “We have to change the way we behave,” Elgaard said. You also must have new competencies. “We can’t just expect that people can jump in and do everything in a new way from Day 1,” he said. “We have to make sure they are capable in doing that by bringing in the necessary competencies.” You should start from the purpose, and then try to go back and ask, What are the benefits that are associated with this purpose? And what are the competencies that we need to do so? Achieving the purpose doesn’t come from a new system alone. “You have to start connecting the dots all the way through,” he said. “It’s a very good way of qualifying requirements because if you can’t connect the dots from the requirements to the purpose then it’s obviously not something that’s really important.”
  • If your goal is to improve the customer experience, make sure you create a framework for measuring that, too
    Today’s organizations are focused on the customer experience, and delivering omnichannel services is one of the keys to thriving in today’s mobile world. If your goal for implementing a CRM or CXM solution is to improve the customer experience, start by creating a framework that allows you to measure your performance in general, and the service that you deliver to your customers through all these different channels. “If you aren’t capable of somehow measuring that, then it’s difficult to find the right level of customer satisfaction,” Elgaard said. “Customer satisfaction tends to be something where everybody just wants to deliver as well as possible to everyone. We’re trying to achieve a situation of perfection; in reality, that drives a huge cost.” Elgaard said to start by trying to understand what drives customer satisfaction and come to a conclusion on where you want to be in terms of the customer satisfaction level you want to achieve. “Do that in a granulated way,” he said.     

  • Bring new processes into your employees’ daily ways of working
    One of the reasons CRM or CXM initiatives often fail is poor user adoption. “I think it’s in our nature; we feel safe with what we know,” Elgaard said. “It’s always easier to keep working the way you’re used to.” Elgaard said to be careful about putting too much effort into training – rather, bring the new processes into your employees’ daily ways of working, so that they aren’t dealing with both new technology and new processes all at once. Elgaard suggests trying to rehearse the new reality, beforehand. For example, if the sales reps are going to have to change the way they conduct visits, provide them with some relatively simple steps they can use to start facilitating the new methods beforehand. That way, once the implementation is complete, “they are just getting their tool for what they’ve already been doing for a while,” he said. “Whereas the other way around, they would be accustomed to work in a completely different way with a completely new system. That’s often just too much.” After you’ve gotten the team up to speed on the new system and methods, make sure you keep them on track and enforce it, so they don’t slowly slide back into their old ways of working.

  • Strike a balance between finding something you can quickly deliver that demonstrates the value of the new solution vs. a 12-18-month project
    “The trick here is really to find the level where people are getting enough out of using the system for whatever it is you want them to use it for,” Elgaard said. “It’s very dependent on what you come from. If you come from one CRM system or CXM solution where you are used to working a certain way and you really rely on that, then it’s more difficult. If you’re coming from Excel sheets and deposit notes, it’s easier to break it down into smaller pieces and take one piece at a time. But you always have to be very focused on delivering something that people find attractive to use. Because otherwise you’ve already lost the battle.” If you do things in phases, you have to make sure that the users see value in phase 1, otherwise, “it’s very hard to get them to buy into phase 2 because you’ve already lost them.” The trick is to find a good balance between finding something you can deliver very quickly (so users don’t have to wait 12-18 months for the project to end) but ensuring it’s something where they can see quickly that the system will be of value to them. “If you can deliver that without taking the whole scope that’s something you should really go for,” Elgaard said. You can demonstrate the value quicker, get people on board, and avoid the waste that can come with a big bang, because often many features that are implemented are never used.




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