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SAP: Partners are the key to customer success – TechTarget

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Customer success was the main focus of the SAP Global Partner Summit Online, a virtual conference held this week.
SAP Global Partner Summit Online is a gathering of SAP executives, partners and customers who convene to discuss innovations and resources.
Partners are the key to customer success and happiness, said Karl Fahrbach, who was appointed SAP’s first chief partner officer about a year ago. Partners provide a variety of services for SAP customers, including consulting and implementing systems, as well developing and marketing applications built on platforms like SAP Cloud Platform, or extensions to systems like SAP SuccessFactors.
“Customer success means that we recognize that, in order to make our customers successful, we need to do it with our partners,” Fahrbach said. “The role of the partner has changed within SAP. It’s no longer about sales with our reselling partners or implementation with our services partners.”
He stressed that partners are key players in advancing SAP’s idea of the intelligent enterprise, a broad vision of advanced enterprise systems that allow companies to transform old business processes or develop new business models.
The initiative to rely on partners as the driving force for customer success comes from the top levels of SAP, a point SAP CEO Christian Klein emphasized in his streamed keynote address.
“Everyone at SAP has to understand that customer success is not about the point of sale,” Klein said. “It continues across the sales lifecycle, and partners play a vital role in that. So, we have to double down on that.”
Klein vowed that SAP would develop tools and programs to simplify and automate partner interactions.
“We owe our ecosystem a much better experience than in the past,” he said.
At the summit, SAP unveiled new initiatives and enhancements to existing programs that are designed to help partners better serve SAP customers.
For implementation partners, SAP debuted the new Partner Delivery Quality Framework (PDQF), an initiative designed to help partners implement higher-quality projects faster, Fahrbach said.
The PDQF consists of three components: project delivery, partner skills and post-sales management. The first component looks at project delivery quality and establishes feedback loops to ensure that an implementation is on track and adoption is successful.
“You can see in real time how the implementation is going, what’s being deployed, how the adoption is going, because this is key to see if this customer will be successful or not,” he said. “We’re going to share that information with the partner to make sure that we are transparent, and we support the partner in delivering that quality.”
The second component consists of investments in certifications and skills that partners can use to make sure the project quality is high. The third component focuses on the partner’s post-sales management. An SAP team of partner delivery managers will work with partners’ project managers to deliver quality standards and resolve escalations.
SAP partners will also now have free access to the same testing and demo systems that SAP uses internally to develop and demonstrate projects for customers.
This will enable partners to build applications that integrate various SAP platforms, like S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, in a test and demo environment that they previously had to pay for, Fahrbach said.
“They will be able to show end-to-end scenarios of the intelligent enterprise without having any additional costs,” he said. “The partners have been asking if they can get the same environments that SAP uses to do the demos, and now they have free access. This will improve the economics for the partners because it’s free, and the quality of the demos will improve as well.”
For independent software vendor (ISV) partners that develop SAP-based applications and extensions, SAP unveiled the Partner Solution Progression framework. The initiative enables partners to quickly develop SAP validated products and make them available on the SAP App Center, an online marketplace for applications and SAP product extensions, according to SAP.
Having apps that are validated and well-supported by SAP can be vital to an ISV’s success, and the Partner Solution Progression framework allows ISVs to gradually advance the technical and business quality of their applications. Once a partner puts a validated app on the SAP App Center, it can grow into the Partner Spotlight program that includes more go-to-market support. If the partner’s strategy and app success continue to improve, the app is eligible to be invited to SAP Endorsed Apps, an SAP premium certification initiative.
The idea is to make it much easier for partners to get applications on the SAP App Center and show that they are valuable innovative products, Klein said.
“Business on the SAP App Center has quadrupled, but it took way too long for partners to become a partner in the App Center and to onboard their solution until they make their first dollar in revenue,” Klein said. “We have significantly improved how you become a partner and how you publish in the App Center.”
When the COVID-19 crisis began earlier in the year, SAP launched a virtual partner advisory council to examine how the crisis might affect the partners’ business and determine what they need to do to address it, Fahrbach said.
One result was a decision to help partners deal with cash-flow issues and credit access, he said. SAP postponed SAP PartnerEdge program fees until later in the year and will not raise annual maintenance fees. SAP PartnerEdge is a program for ISVs that provides resources to help design, develop and bring applications to market.
“We also launched credit service options to make sure that partners have access to credit and have revised commercial guidelines for the cloud,” Fahrbach said.
To that end, partners can now use a consumption-based pricing model that was previously available only for SAP’s direct salesforce with the Cloud Platform Enterprise Agreement (CPEA), which meters a customer’s use of SAP systems on the SAP Cloud Platform so that they’re charged only for what they use.
“This will provide our partners the ability to be flexible in the way customers consume our software, which is especially important these days with COVID-19, ” Fahrbach said.
It’s important that SAP’s messaging on the role of partners is coming directly from recently installed CEO Christian Klein, said Shaun Syvertsen, CEO and managing partner of ConvergentIS, an SAP partner based in Calgary, Alta.
“The idea that Klein has recognized and reinforced with his teams that partners should not feel like SAP services is directly competing with them is important,” Syvertsen said. “Certainly for few years that was a dramatic trend as SAP was really doubling down on services and growing the services teams and sales positioning, so that’s a remarkable shift, and I think it’s a really healthy one.”
SAP partners would often see similar and competing products coming from SAP product management, and it will be interesting to see if this changes, Syvertsen said.
“The idea that an ecosystem matters is something that we’ve heard from Klein over several years, and there has been a tone of being more open to that. So, now we’ll see if some of those behaviors change within the organization to honor some of the investments the partners have made,” he said. “For example, there’s Sodales Solutions [an SAP partner that develops extensions to SAP SuccessFactors]. If SAP comes out with a new module for SuccessFactors that does what Sodales does, that’s not a good sign for anybody. Those are the kinds of things I’m watching for.”
The partner program initiatives are a welcome development for SAP, but they could do even more to highlight smaller niche players that build emerging technology or industry expertise into their applications, said Jon Reed, analyst and co-founder of Diginomica.com, an enterprise applications news and analysis site.
“This is a time when companies are largely pausing on major software upgrades, but they are eager to extend their platforms with impactful apps and analytics that can get up and running quickly,” Reed said.
Many of SAP’s partners have offerings that fit this bill but do not get enough exposure. Some, like Sodales Solutions, have gained visibility this year, but there needs to be more like that, he said.
Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, agreed that the proof will be in the pudding for SAP’s partner relations.
“The spirit is willing in SAP at the top, and we’ll have to wait to see how everything goes,” Greenbaum said. “They are truly dedicated to the proposition that SAP can’t compete without a healthy and vigorous ecosystem, and I think they really mean that, but unfortunately the best practices have not been best for the partners. They’ve been best for SAP in the past, so this is going to be a real wait and see.”
The trajectory path for partners with the Partner Solution Progression framework is perhaps the best development, he said.
“It took a while to articulate the value of having that trajectory to follow to the partners,” he said. “The key is that SAP has to do good by existing partners, but also make it an enticing ecosystem for new partners — and their reputation isn’t that good. With Fahrbach in charge and Klein’s vision, the pieces are there, but these are complicated, inbred cultural behaviors that need to be modified, and that takes time.”
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​SAP HANA to go live on Microsoft Azure, eases Office 365 integration – TechRepublic

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SAP and Microsoft continue to build on their longstanding relationship announcing from Q3 2016, SAP HANA will be able to run on Microsoft Azure.
A new distribution partnership between SAP and Microsoft was announced during 2016 SAP SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Florida, which will see the SAP HANA platform deployed on Microsoft Azure to simplify the integration between SAP and Microsoft Office 365.
Specifically, the partnership will mean organisations with large workloads will be able to deliver critical applications and data analytics, including SAP S/4 HANA, as well as run development, test, and production workloads on Microsoft Azure.
At the same time, the integration of the two firms will see Office 365 communications, collaboration, calendar, documents, and other data combine with cloud solutions from SAP, including Concur, SAP Fieldglass, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP Ariba solutions.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott said on Tuesday that the partnership signals the company’s ability to “empathise” with customer demand.
“What I see now is we both have very large workforces, and we both have very important customer relationships,” McDermott said. “I think the more the customer says ‘hey, I like what I saw I want to see more and more use cases for my industry, my line of business,’ you’ll see us continue to innovate and push the envelope on what’s possible; that’s the game plan.”
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“You’ll see HANA and S/4 HANA pick up even more steam because Azure will be another large channel for HANA and S/4 HANA in combination with Microsoft. We feel, right now, SAP has never been in a stronger position between the core, the cloud, the network, and the ecosystem,” he said.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who joined McDermott on stage, said the latest partnership brings together the best of SAP and Microsoft’s hyperscale cloud.
“What that means is SAP is certified on Azure, S/4 HANA is certified on Azure, SAP HANA is certified on Azure, and that’s a fantastic capability to be able to run your test/dev and production workloads,” he said.
In addition, SAP has announced SAP Fiori will be integrated with Microsoft Intune, the same management capabilities used by Office 365 mobile apps. It will allow SAP customers to build and deploy customer mobile hybrid SAP Fiori apps on SAP HANA cloud platform with an open standards plug-in framework, while being protected.
Both the Office 365 and Intune integrations will be available by the third quarter of this year, the company said.
McDermott and Nadella both confirmed this latest partnership is just the start of more to come between the two tech firms, which continue to build on their alliance of 20+ years.
The partnership follows on from another announcement SAP made with Dell this morning, where the pair announced they were deepening their partnership to make it easier for Dell shops to deploy SAP solutions in the cloud and quicken the pace for data analysis as well.
1. SAP and Microsoft announced SAP HANA will be run on Microsoft Azure making it easier for integrations between SAP and Microsoft Office 365.
2. The announcement means organisations, particularly with large workloads, will be able to deliver critical applications and data analytics, as well as run development, test, and production workloads on Microsoft Azure.
3. SAP continues to closely align its business with Microsoft to give businesses the ability to speed up workload delivery and analytics processing.
Disclosure: Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to 2016 SAP SAPPHIRE NOW courtesy of SAP.
Since completing a degree in journalism, Aimee has had her fair share of covering various topics, including business, retail, manufacturing, and travel. She continues to expand her repertoire as a tech journalist with ZDNet.
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SuccessFactors New Release Focuses On Returning to Work – HCM Technology Report

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SAP SuccessFactors launched new features to help employers return employees to the office after 12 months of remote work. In addition, its 2021 first half release included new tools to optimize workforce planning and improve the employee experience.
The update’s primary feature is a free health and vaccination monitoring portlet, added to SuccessFactors Employee Central. The portlet allows employees to share their vaccination status. That data can be combined with other employee and company information to help create reopening strategies and provide travel recommendations. The system can also identify and support employees who are considered at high risk because of their location, age and area of work.
Meanwhile, Work Zone for HR, the digital workplace launched by SAP last year, added a new guided experience to provide personalized information and recommend actions employees need to take before they return to the office.
Within SuccessFactors’ People Analytics, the Stories reporting feature was expanded to include data from SuccessFactors Learning, such as information on training compliance and skills development.
Several items included in the update are meant to provide users with a more consumer-grade experience. Among them:  
Earlier this month SAP competitor Oracle launched Oracle Journeys, which extends its approach to guided employee actions within Oracle Cloud HCM. The company describes Journeys as a platform HR can use to create and deliver customized workflows to address personal and workplace tasks.
By using, HR teams can help employees access resources and tasks across the organization. Employees can access and complete their Journeys on any device including desktop, mobile, chat applications, or Oracle Digital Assistant.
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SAP technology helps Stater Bros. recover from pandemic-related challenges – Grocery Dive

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Though many retailers closed their doors during the pandemic, grocery stores flung theirs wide open. As essential businesses, grocery stores were tasked with providing the population with food as the nation battled COVID-19. Unexpected supply chain disruptions left many grocers with bare shelves, frustrated customers and a sudden shortage of critical frontline staff.
Stater Bros. Markets, a grocery chain operating 170 supermarkets with 18,000 employees across seven California counties, quickly recognized the need to pursue digital transformation as a means to avoid future challenges like those faced during the pandemic.
Like other grocery sellers around the United States, Stater Bros. found their existing technology solutions tested as COVID-19 began to spread. Constantly shifting health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), California Department of Public Health and local governments required the retailer to communicate rapidly changing policies across its workforce.
“Everything was moving quickly in the grocery space,” said Gil Salazar, senior vice president of information technology for Stater Bros. Markets. “We’ve got 18,000 team members across the company and our biggest challenge was our ability to connect and communicate with them.”
The legacy system used by Stater Bros. wasn’t built to handle the workforce challenges generated by a global pandemic. The existing technology lacked the proper functionality to track COVID-19 infections among employees and manage related leaves of absence associated with mandatory quarantine periods. It also hindered the company’s efforts to rapidly hire new team members.
“Other industries were crippled by the pandemic, while demand for our products grew significantly,” Salazar said. “We had to go through a pretty rapid hiring and onboarding process, and our current systems didn’t facilitate an easy transition. At the height of the pandemic, we ramped up hiring to about 3,000 additional teammates. That created significant stress on our existing resources to do the majority of that in a manual way.”
Though the company got the job done with its existing systems, the Stater Bros. leadership expedited a search for a new Human Capital Management System (HCMS) that would help them better manage their employee base in the future.
“We established enough confidence in our foundational systems to take a step back and focus on what the pandemic did and how we should respond as a business,” said Salazar. “We unanimously agreed as a leadership team that our number one focus should be replacing our foundational HCMS. It became obvious we needed to do something dramatically different.”
After an exhaustive RFP process that included input from across the Stater Bros. organization, the retailer awarded SAP’s SuccessFactors talent management solution as its new HCMS solution. SuccessFactors was selected for its organized structure, granular capabilities and ability to streamline a transition from existing legacy technology.
“Within the SAP SuccessFactors platform, everything is at our fingertips,” said Salazar. “We have full 360-degree contributions from all angles of our business. The foundational organization chart was appealing to the HR team; retail evaluated how different capabilities would impact the employees out in the stores; the distribution and warehouse leaders explored how they could create advantages for their teams through the platform; public relations focused on the ability to connect and communicate with all teammates in stores and the distribution center. We collectively came together and recognized that SAP’s capabilities led in these areas.”
The digital transformation at Stater Bros. Markets didn’t stop at talent management. Prior to the pandemic, the grocery chain had already initiated a sourcing process for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. COVID-19 put that search on hold, but the need for a new ERP became clear as the company managed a volatile supply chain.
Stater Bros. has 12 major systems focused on moving products to stores, supply chain replenishment and customer delivery. The existing legacy mainframe and associated solutions perform these functions in batch processes, offering little in terms of useful data or real-time supply chain management capabilities.
“We have to be in a position to make rapid decisions, especially when you think about the challenges the pandemic presented. We were faced with stockout situations where our suppliers weren’t able to deliver in a timely manner. They were actually eliminating SKUs to focus on products they could move quickly. We were challenged in our ability to maneuver, adapt and respond to the changing market,” Salazar said.
While most of these challenges weren’t new, they were definitely exacerbated by the pandemic. Stater Bros. had already planned to change the way it aggregated, batched and processed data. Like other companies using legacy systems, Stater Bros. found its foundational system had become difficult to maintain due to a lack of skilled COBOL programmers who could understand, support and modify it. As with their HCMS solution, they turned to SAP after a similar RFP and evaluation process.
“SAP was a clear winner for us for its ability to solve the majority of our business needs and help us become a more responsive and data-driven company,” Salazar said. “Today we spend 80 percent of our time wrangling the data and 20 percent making business decisions on the data. We’re really trying to reverse that and get to a point where it takes us 20 percent to wrangle the data and 80 percent consuming the data and making critical business decisions. We feel like we’re in a good position to actually do that by leveraging SAP’s capabilities.”
Given the purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon, recent news of technology investments by Kroger and similar grocery industry news in recent years, the leadership at Stater Bros. recognized the need for an ERP that would empower data-driven business decisions. As more grocery retailers strive to recover from the pandemic and pursue organization-wide agility and resiliency, digital transformation efforts will undoubtedly accelerate in the grocery space. 
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Customization tools like shoppable recipes and product recommendations are helping consumers cut through the clutter of center store. But retailers are only scratching the surface of what's possible.
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