With the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Virtual Summit set for next month, keynote speakers will soon finalize their remarks. SAP SVP of Application Lifecycle Management Marc Thier, who will lead a Summit keynote panel, recently talked with ASUG about the event’s importance. In addition to giving SAP experts an opportunity to convey product strategy, direction, and detail, Thier said that the virtual event gives customers a feedback channel and access to ALM experts and innovators.

For more on Thier’s observations and insights, ASUG offers this edited version of a recent interview.

Q. In your role, what are you hearing from customers regarding current business and technology challenges related to ALM?

A. What I hear from customers is they struggle with integration, and that the cost of implementation and time to value is too long. Customers are actually leaving; they do not renew the subscriptions as we would want. I’ve seen there is a big demand from customers to mitigate these problems, to have a more seamless implementation for hybrid solutions—for cloud and on-premises—as well as to have less overhead and operational effort.

Q. How has SAP worked to answer the challenges specific to ALM?

A. SAP ALM is helping. We have the three solutions: SAP Cloud ALM, Solution Manager, and SAP Focused Run. These are three product lines, independent offerings. Not one is the successor of another. We are not aiming at future parity. I think we have a good portfolio to address the demands to help our customers … seamlessly implement, to get quick time-to-value for our solutions, and finally, to operate their solution seamlessly, on premises only, cloud only, or hybrid.

Q. What’s preventing more rapid implementation and time-to-value delivery?

A. One of the key aspects is that the implementation journey is not guided enough by SAP, with implementation methodology of partners being fully integrated in SAP’s ALM. There are always the problems found in testing, slowing down testing efforts. There are problems in data migration and data transformation, which are big costs. With SAP Cloud ALM, we are tackling those pain points, the showstoppers, those hurdles for customers, to make the situation better.

Q. Are there other business challenges that you hear about from customers?

A. What I always hear is: We want to do the business transformation as fast as possible. All of our customers are going through transformations. They are standardizing, harmonizing, automating their businesses. As a consequence, they need the tooling and the methods when implementing the solution, while also steering the partnerships they have to improve control.

Q. Why is the Application Lifecycle Management Virtual Summit a “must attend” for ASUG members and customers?

A. ALM Summit is the once-a-year opportunity to learn the latest and greatest about all three platforms and what we have innovated. Our customers and partners benefit from that. They have access to the experts who basically invented the solutions. We provide, even in the virtual setting, networking opportunities and we provide access [for customers] to ask questions. We make it an interactive experience, so they can really derive value from the different sessions. We set the direction and discuss the road map for all three platforms. A major topic always is: Are there any moves or transitions, for example, if a customer wants to move from Solution Manager to Cloud ALM. If that is a customer wish, we explain how that transition could work. This is all presented by experts in the area—product managers, developers. We bring a lot of expertise to the event.

Q. Regarding the road map, are there some specific new or different additions to the road map in 2022 that you’ll be talking about at the Summit?

A. Absolutely. In implementation it is obviously about testing. We will talk about test integration and automation and our Tricentis partnership. We’ll talk about Cloud ALM deployment management and the integration into deployment providers. On the operations side, we have a new capability called Business Service Management, which lets customers combine any service—cloud or on-premises service—and have one view and process around the health of that integrated process.

Q. Is there anything you plan to highlight during the Summit keynote panel?

A. The keynote allows us to discuss the positioning of each of the three [ALM] platforms and which platform is suited for which customer need. We’ll talk specifically about RISE with SAP and what is the right offering if you are on that journey. We’ll talk about the transition from Solution Manager to SAP Cloud ALM and how SAP is supporting that with tooling and services.

Q. Anything else you want to directly convey to the ASUG member community?

A. What is of particular interest for us, as an engineering and product management team, is obviously customer input. We are very open and receptive to feedback from our customers. The Summit also is an opportunity to give feedback to SAP on whether our strategy is meaningful, whether there are capabilities missing. So, it’s not just that we talk about our newest innovations, but also the other way around, a feedback channel from the customer to us.

More information about the Summit and registration can be found here.

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