With an active travel schedule as part of her still-new role, ASUG Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Dolezal joined ASUG Board Directors and Senior Leaders for what has become an annual sojourn—meeting this month with SAP executives at its Walldorf, Germany, headquarters.

The excursions, briefly suspended during the pandemic’s most intense years, serve as an essential opportunity for ASUG leaders to listen, learn, and deliver perspectives directly to SAP on behalf of ASUG members and the greater Americas SAP community.

This year the ASUG delegation included Dolezal, as well as James Johnson, Board Chair; Mark LeClair, past Board Chair; Tony Caesar and Laura Tibodeau, both Board Directors; Geoff Scott, CEO; David Wascom, Senior Vice President, Executive Programs; and Kelly Dowling, Content Director.

They met with several SAP executive leaders, including Christian Klein, CEO; Sebastian Steinhauser, Chief Strategy Officer; Juergen Mueller, CTO and Executive Board Member; Anja Schneider, SVP and COO; Thomas Saueressig, SAP Executive Board Member and SAP Product Engineer; Peter Maier, President, SAP Industries and Customer Advisory; Karl Fahrbach, Chief Partner Officer and Member of the Senior Executive Team, and user group liaisons Yasmin Awad and Norbert Nowak.

In this view, Dolezal recaps the preparations, priorities, and some impressions from the days of dialogue. Other members of the ASUG travel contingent will share from their experiences in future commentaries.

As I looked forward to the October outing to SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, it occurred to me this would be a journey of firsts:

  • First travel opportunity with a cross-section of the ASUG community: Board Directors and senior staff leaders.
  • First travel to SAP headquarters and first meetings with several SAP Executive Board, strategy, and technology leaders.
  • First occasion to take in information for, and more importantly, effectively represent, the interests of ASUG members.

Priorities and Perspectives

To take up these responsibilities, together with the traveling troop, I considered the context in the days before the trip. ASUG and SAP built over many years an open and transparent relationship—and I am happy to report this was evident in this visit.

We met to prepare and decide on roles, responsibilities, and priorities for the conversations. We agreed we needed to cover the most important topics that occupy members’ and customers’ minds—right now and for the foreseeable future—including: Cloud Adoption, Business Technology Platform (BTP), SAP S/4 HANA as a Service, Sustainability, and the SAP Ecosystem. We left a little room for SAP to add to the agenda.

That was the going in. Now, with a few days to reflect, I continue to sort through observations and impressions. I was delighted to see the direct access ASUG has to the highest level of SAP’s strategy and operations leaders. These individuals demonstrated an unwavering commitment to SAP customers. They expressed genuine curiosity about ASUG members and our organization’s perceptions and experience with SAP technology and strategy. They clearly listened. They were exuberant about the future. Energy and commitment? Palpable to a person!

Relevance and Receptivity

The importance, and the aftermath, of these types of meetings and conversations hinge on the relevance of the topics and on the openness and receptivity of both parties to the dialogue. ASUG Board members bring their own views, and their organization’s experiences and assessments. But just as important, they unpack—and last week they unpacked on your behalf—what they collect and hear from other members.

As leaders and everyday SAP technology users, our members are uniquely qualified to provide real-life, real-time feedback on what works well and where there are opportunities for improvement. In addition, the customers’ view as strategists and practitioners can help shape SAP thinking and planning on priorities, and road maps for the future.

We knew we were having meaningful, worthwhile conversations when the SAP executives we met with wanted to stay engaged longer than their appointed time slots.

Ideas and Priorities to Come

The SAP-ASUG meeting content from this month is confidential under a non-disclosure agreement. As much as I would like to share more from these very open conversations, in good partnership, I cannot share details. Yet, given the trust between the two organizations, SAP shared several new ideas and priorities. They gained ASUG feedback, we have tangible next steps, and there are new points of contact for further meetings. We will follow through on those next steps in the coming weeks and months, again working for you.

In the end, I come away energized by the perspectives and priorities shared across many tables. We live in a complicated, ever-changing world with SAP involved in global public/private industry dialogues to help shape the future—of technology, business, community, the world. As SAP leaders seek customer perspectives, the ASUG perspective makes for key inputs.

The Walldorf dialogue was not the first and will not be the last; it’s only the latest and only one of many channels ASUG uses to engage with SAP. ASUG members know that together, we can amplify a powerful voice to shape these discussions through multiple channels, every day. Ultimately, our talk and action as partners will shape how we live and work. It was—and is--very exciting to have a seat at the table, to be in the rooms where it happens. ASUG members have that opportunity if and when they want to use it, and we will work diligently to deliver that voice in the conversation.

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