With strong, continued community interest in cloud adoption, migration, and maturation, ASUG took the opportunity to catch up with the global leaders of SAP’s Cloud Success Services (CSS) organization, Claudio Muruzabal, CSS Global President, and Gregory Bennett, CSS Chief Strategy Officer. The executives shared highlights of SAP’s cloud strategy and SAP Sapphire news, insights from their latest customer conversations, and details of the vision-to-value methodology.

SAP Cloud Success Services progress surely will be on the agenda in the new conference format for this year’s ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Cloud. More information on the conference can be found here

What follows is an edited version of the entire conversation.

Question: With SAP Sapphire in the rear-view mirror, are there any Sapphire-timed developments or announcements that have an impact on SAP Cloud customers?

Answer: (Muruzabal) I can confidently say this year’s Sapphire was unlike any other before it and one with many exciting announcements. You could point to a number of things that were really very relevant in the discussions during Sapphire and immediately afterwards, such as transformational supply chains and what role the cloud networks play in that space. We also had a strong focus on sustainability, not only from the environmental standpoint, but the whole ESG standpoint and the role of governance being a critical element in it. And for us, RISE with SAP continues to play a central role. It was a very exciting Sapphire in that respect and the cloud business is moving at full speed in the right direction with great acceptance by our customers. We’re honored to be part of that cloud journey with our customers, especially with our Cloud Success Services team working closely with them to help our customers achieve their goals throughout their transformation.

Q: At SAP Sapphire and ASUG Accelerate, we heard a lot from members about their concerns and considerations regarding integration across the SAP portfolio and integration of third party systems/applications and SAP. How does SAP Cloud Success Services play into answering that critical concern?

A: (Bennett): The first thing I would say is that addressing this concern doesn't necessarily start with Cloud Success Services; it actually starts at the top with our board. Thomas Saueressig [SAP Product Engineering lead and a member of the Executive Board] has paid very special attention to this and has heard the challenges our customers face. We recently released the second version of the integration strategy paper. It really outlines the strategy for connecting SAP solutions with SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) as the foundational platform to really enable end-to-end business outcomes and seamless experience and empower them to become Intelligent, Sustainable Enterprises. (Find more on the strategy here, including ASUG data on customer integration challenges: https://blogs.sap.com/2022/03/15/now-available-updated-integration-architecture-guide-for-cloud-and-hybrid-landscapes/).

That really is the true north, if you will, to steal a term from Scott Russell for integration. It starts with our technology leaders, Thomas and Juergen [Mueller, Chief Technology Officer], and from there, we've got the BTP Integration Suite service that enables customers to accelerate their integration across SAP and non-SAP systems. We're building that out quite extensively with 200-plus connectors and 2,500-plus prebuilt integration connections. From a CSS perspective, we really focus on the adoption elements.

We're supporting customers with one-to-one and one-to-many engagements to help them attain the right cloud maturity in collaboration with our engineering teams.

A: (Muruzabal): If you want to look at this from the macro perspective, our customers run complex operations: they need to run the front office and to manage relationships with customers, with employees, and with suppliers; then all that needs to be integrated back to the core. We have invested significant effort over the last few years to simplify integration both at the product level, and at the people level with our team of nearly 23,000 people within our CSS organization working hand-in-hand with customers. We all understand that it's something we need to do on a daily basis to support our customers and help them succeed.

Q: In a Sapphire session, you talked about vision to value methodology. We’d like to understand the methodology, maybe there’s a magic formula, what it is, and how it helps the customer base?

A: (Bennett) Vision-to-Value really came out of the brain trust of our Industry & Value Advisory organization. It started with the idea of how we can ensure the value we define at the outset with a customer, the vision we are paid for, really comes to fruition and that throughout the engagement, we drive to that with our customers. We continuously reference back to that business case, that vision, that we painted at the outset. So, vision-to-value is an end-to-end engagement methodology across the entire SAP organization looking at how we define the vision, how we capture the business goals that customers look to achieve, then how we proactively monitor and drive the utilization of the solution features and capabilities, and core business processes to realize the desired outcomes.

We leverage utilization to measure the efficacy and effectiveness of the way customers are driving their business. One of the great powers of the cloud is that we see--across hundreds of thousands of customers that we have--what are the best practices. We're now taking that and adding a scientific layer to it. We look at the core business processes we're executing on and where we would expect customers to be performing, at a transactional-feature-function level of utilization across the organization, across the business processes. We now have the ability to measure the core business processes within each of our solutions then tie that back to the vision that was discussed with customers. Using benchmarks, we come back to the customer and offer a view. We’ll say to the customer: ‘we notice that you're not leveraging these particular features and functions of the solution, which is best practice in your industry and essential to the achievement of your goals. Let's talk about how we can enhance the value.’ And then with CSS, we bring that industry expertise to the customer, helping them understand not just the business process, but where, within their organization, they're most effective at executing and where they have opportunities to enhance, to really achieve the outcomes they're driving for from the get-go.

Q: In vision-to-value, is goal defining a joint exercise between CSS and the customer in each case?

A: (Bennett) One-hundred-percent. And it starts in the initial conversation with the customer. One of the key things we're driving in our organization is we know we've got our industry teams sitting with the customer helping to define and understand goals, helping the customer unlock where those opportunities exist. Now from a CSS perspective, we also bring our customer success partners into those conversations to ensure that where the customer and the industry team define the value, there's an interlock with the engagement. It starts with the customer goals and how they want to achieve them. But we now bring the post-sale function in to ensure continuity and define the right adoption plan centered around those goals to accelerate value with the customer.

Q: Are the benchmarks you reference part of SAP Signavio, as Signavio is now availability through RISE with SAP?

A: (Bennett): Today the answer is yes and no, and tomorrow it's absolutely. Today SAP Signavio enables customers to design, benchmark, optimize, and transform business processes across their RISE journey. With our Business Process Intelligence services, we've built out several business journeys, leveraging insights and benchmarking from SAP Signavio to really help customers through the RISE journey and transformation.

Now allow me to take you to the future. Imagine if we take those core business processes within each application and we start to layer over that the SAP Signavio view of end-to-end business process automation, going deep into each process, layering in intelligent benchmarking, so you have a holistic view within each business process and sub-business process, for next-generation business process optimization.

Q: Do you hear from business leaders and technology leaders and organizations any reluctance to move mission-critical applications to the cloud?

A: (Muruzabal): Less and less. The conversation of whether the cloud makes sense or not is one I haven't heard in a long time. It is more, ‘what is my specific situation and how fast can I do it?’ Or ‘can I do it for everything or can I do it for certain applications or certain segments of my business?’

Q: We’d like your comments on some of the ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer 2022 results related to cloud. The first area are the top five migration challenges that respondents said they’ve experienced: 23% said data migration then it was followed by cost considerations, integration of on-premise and cloud-based applications, and lack of in-house knowledge to manage the migration and then security issues.

A: (Muruzabal): When I see that, I don't read it literally as data migration. I see it from the perspective of customers that may be faced with challenges of migrating from where they are today to what they would like to do in the cloud. And when I say “what they would like to do,” it is not just the lift-and-shift, saying we have SAP ECC and we're going to put it in the cloud. It’s what they want this cloud landscape to look like from an application standpoint, from an architectural standpoint, from a feature function standpoint. That is the challenge that I think the survey is referring to. I might even add that ‘challenge’ is likely a strong word. It is how much can you afford to do and when you can do it? What are the steps?

Q: How does SAP Cloud Success Services address customers’ challenges of lack of in-house knowledge?

A: (Bennett) This is what Cloud Success Services is designed to do. We look at the industry expertise, the functional expertise, the technical expertise that we have across the 23,000 in our CSS organization, we want to ensure those roles help our customers drive this transformation. We are building and transforming our entire organization to be focused on adoption and consumption. We have resources throughout our organization focused on helping customers optimize value throughout the customer journey, from the business leader driving the business perspective down the chain into functional expertise.

Then within our entire approximately 13,000-member consulting organization, we have advisory experts, architectural experts, every resource a customer could need. We relaunched our SAP Services and Support portfolio in an entirely new design and that redesign is truly intended to prioritize that expertise to help customers.

We ensure the design and the migration plans don't just get the customer from point A to point B, but help the customer prepare for point A, and get far beyond point B. We have redesigned our entire cloud services and support portfolio in that direction of how we help enhance the expertise of our customer base. We have RISE Business Journeys as targeted packages with specific scope, timeline, and clear outcomes. The business journey is a core element of the success experience and one of the newest iterations of our portfolio. We're really looking across how we drive technical transformation, how we drive advisory, how we drive adoption and consumption in one business journey, bringing the right experts to the customer in the right place at the right time to enable customer outcomes.

To help guide our customers alongside their business transformation we launched the Discovery and Optimization Business Journey for RISE with SAP. The Discovery journey answers typical planning questions raised at the beginning of an SAP implementation project. The Optimization journey provides insights and transparency on business processes and custom code footprint of a customer system. It improves processes, data, customization and extensibility for cloud readiness with a clean-core strategy.