SAP Focuses on Customers and SAP S/4HANA at FKOM 2020

By Robert Holland, VP Research and Publishing, SAPinsider

At SAP’s annual Field Kick Off Meeting (FKOM) in the U.S., Spain, and China last week, the key message for their global sales force and partners who were attending was “Forward Together.” As at previous FKOM events, this was an opportunity for SAP to not only inspire and incent their sales organization, but also to recognize their most successful partners from 2019.

This year, the Barcelona event was keynoted by co-CEO Jennifer Morgan, while the Las Vegas event was led by executive board member Adaire Fox-Martin. Juergen Mueller, CTO and executive board member, led the event in Macao. Although the individual sales messages vary slightly by region, the overarching message in each location was one of getting back to SAP’s roots as a way of driving success.

Alicia Tillman Twitter post

While the slogan for the event was “Forward Together,” the message that was highlighted by multiple speakers, and as seen in the tweet above by SAP’s CMO Alicia Tillman, was that of customer focus. The message was bolstered by speakers like Marty Mrugal, Global Head of Customer First, who spoke about how his organization drives customer success, and Adaire Fox-Martin, who emphasized the same message of refocusing on customer success with post-sales teams that consist of Customer Engagement Executives, Customer Success Executives, and tools like Totango and the SAP Customer Portal.  Given that the message coming from user groups like DSAG has been that SAP needs to listen more to their customer base, especially those that want to continue to run on-premise, the customer-centric theme was not surprising.

SAP Continues to Be an ERP Focused Company

Another message that was highlighted at the Las Vegas event was that, at its core, SAP is an ERP company. This was emphasized when Adaire Fox-Martin made SAP S/4HANA one of the main topics for her keynote. She also highlighted SAP S/4HANA customer stories like Marathon Petroleum. Later in the event, DJ Paoni, President of SAP North America, discussed the fact that there were 173 SAP S/4HANA go-lives in North America in 2019.

While this may not seem like a large number compared to SAP’s overall ERP customer base, given the time and complexities in migrating and upgrading an ERP system, along with the numbers we have seen in our surveys across the year showing a gradual acceleration of those evaluating or in the process of deploying SAP S/4HANA, this does show a positive trend. We will track this number across the course of 2020, and what SAP says at events like SAPPHIRE and TechEd.

This focus on ERP is also a way for SAP to get back to something that has been its core business since it was founded and provides a point of stability around which it can focus and continue the drive towards the cloud. However, the lack of emphasis on other topics in the keynotes does leave some questions about where some of the more forward-looking topics SAP pushed in 2019 fit into the picture.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

SAP uses the FKOM event to energize the sales force to get them aligned on a single message as they head towards SAPPHIRE.  That means these messages will be the high-level focus for account reps as they talk to customers across the SAP ecosystem in 2020.

  • Expect the push to SAP S/4HANA to continue – especially in the cloud. While cloud may not have been highlighted as significantly in this year’s FKOM keynotes, SAP continues its transition toward being an enterprise cloud company, and that is where it wants customers to be running. But with SAP S/4HANA being front and center in executive keynotes, SAP will continue to push customers to a migration, ideally running in a cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Make your voice heard. In all locations, the key message was that account executives must be listening to customers. SAP wants customers to have a successful post-sales experience, so leverage the resources that they are making more available and see whether SAP is really practicing what they preach.
  • Listen closely to SAP’s messaging. SAP’s major sales and marketing event for 2020 is still a few months away, but we’ll start to hear an early indication of what that messaging looks like as SAP executives like Sven Denecken and Frank Ciannella speak at our SAPinsider Las Vegas conference in March. You will also have the opportunity to hear what over 40 customer speakers are saying about their own SAP implementations at the event.
  • Tell us what you’re experiencing. SAPinsider is currently preparing a research report that provides an updated state of the market on SAP S/4HANA migration. If you are evaluating, piloting, planning, deploying, or have no interest in deploying SAP S/4HANA, please take the survey we’re currently running and give us your insight.