One of the greatest ASUG membership benefits, and probably least known, is the relationship between the ASUG leadership team and the SAP U.S., Americas’, global, and Germany-HQ-based leaders. These relationships have matured, and become ever stronger, over the past several years. Today, ASUG CEO Geoff Scott has a direct line and regular contact with SAP CEO Christian Klein, SAP CMO Julia White, and a host of additional members of the SAP Executive Board.

These important relationships didn't happen by accident. Your ASUG Board of Directors and greater leadership team made a conscious decision several years ago to work with SAP as an ally versus an enemy, to work in a mutually beneficial partnership. This decision was the first step to pave the way to giving ASUG the opportunity to voice members’ concerns, considerations, and challenges directly to SAP leadership.

What’s Behind the Opened Doors?

Working on this relationship together, doors opened. What kind of doors, when, and for what purpose? At the ASUG Accelerate-SAP Sapphire events earlier this year and in pre-COVID Sapphire meetings, the ASUG CEO and ASUG Board opened the door to conversations with several SAP key leaders. These meetings gave ASUG leaders—representing members—an opportunity to listen to SAP, have meaningful discussions, offer feedback on strategies, and provide candid insights into future SAP products, services, and solutions roadmaps.

Another major door opened just last year. Geoff Scott and the ASUG Board Executive Committee traveled to SAP HQ in Walldorf to meet with Christian Klein and the Executive Board. The purpose of these visits is to continue deep-dive conversations into SAP strategies and roadmaps. These annual meetings proved invaluable, as ASUG shares information and insights individually and in group sessions with SAP leadership team. These sessions have visibly shaped current and future product offerings and launches.

Planned and Unplanned Opportunities

The importance, power, and influence of the ASUG-SAP relationship—on behalf of ASUG members—became very clear in an unplanned way in Walldorf. Christian had planned to meet with Geoff and the Exec Committee at one point during the day. Yet, due to an unanticipated calendar shift, he could not meet as planned. His Chief of Staff came to meet in his place. He apologized on behalf of the CEO, and he did a great job filling in.

End of story? No!

Later that evening, during an admittedly late dinner—south of 9 PM local time— who shows up? Christian Klein. Alone. Causal dress. A set of keys in hand. Geoff Scott and your Board leaders were stunned. There was no meeting plan—or planned meeting. No agenda.

When he sat down and placed the keys on the table, I said, "Wow, Christian. We didn't expect to see you today, much less, so late in the evening.” And he replied, "After I put my kids to bed, I wanted to come and spend some time with you all.”

That made the difference, a remarkable relationship impact. We, and you, were, and are, important enough that he left his home late in the evening to come and spend some time with his ASUG partners.

Seat at the Table, Be in the Room

I can hear the cynics and the skeptics raise a voice of concern. Some say it’s better to have an adversarial relationship with SAP and we should not be so cozy with them. To those few, I offer the following: Having a seat at such a huge table shouldn't be undervalued. There are several major SAP initiatives where having this relationship puts ASUG in the room to amplify your views, your voices and to influence major decisions and directions that affect the global SAP community. It’s much better to be in the room than outside the doors.

So, if you didn't know about this member benefit, maybe even privileged access to influence and inform SAP, now you do. An ASUG membership gets your collective voices heard by the SAP leadership.

The next time you attend SAP Sapphire, or an ASUG Chapter meeting, or any ASUG-sponsored event, and you want your voice heard at SAP, seek out the ASUG volunteer lead or an ASUG staff member. Let them know what you want to share with the SAP leadership team if you had the opportunity. They will get your view recorded. They’ll get that information to ASUG leaders and to your Board for the next meeting with the SAP leadership team.

Just one of the powerful opportunities, and benefits, of membership!

Tony Caesar is ASUG Board of Directors Vice Chair and Head of IT Ericsson North America.

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