Last week, SAP hosted the first-ever digital Global Partner Summit. The event was geared toward the software provider’s extensive ecosystem of more than 21,000 partner companies. These partners work with SAP to build on the company’s software or provide knowledge in implementing SAP solutions for customers. The conference featured a keynote address highlighting some of the biggest changes and innovations in the SAP partner environment. Attendees also had access to 36 breakout sessions, which provided information on changes to the partner ecosystem and guidance on new ways to better serve SAP customers.
“Everyone at SAP has to understand that customer success is not just about the point-of-sale,” said Christian Klein, CEO of SAP. “We have to continue across the customer life cycle. And across the life cycle, our partners are playing a vital role in that.”
The online SAP Global Partner Summit—which is available to watch on-demand—featured some interesting news and announcements with significant effects on SAP customers.
SAP Partners Focusing on Customers
Customer success took the front stage at the SAP Global Partner Summit. Throughout the entire conference, speakers and thought leaders reminded attendees that the success of customers depends on collaboration between SAP and its partners.
“We need to work together to ensure customer satisfaction and happiness in the adoption of our solutions,” said Ralph Stemler, senior vice president, co-lead of global business development and ecosystems and head of the industry ecosystem at SAP.
During the keynote presentation, Marty Mrugal, global head of customer success at SAP Global, discussed SAP’s Customer First initiative, and the importance of that mindset. Part of putting customers first means working in tandem with partners.
“SAP’s mindset is all about creating the best customer experience in the software industry,” Mrugal said. “Ensuring that we have the best customer experience means we have to have the best partners.”
With that in mind, the event detailed new changes that will assist partners as they develop content in cooperation with SAP and gave guidance on how to best reach and serve SAP customers.
Accelerating Cloud Implementations
One of the ways SAP is trying to help both its customers and partners is by focusing on business outcomes using the cloud. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, implementing SAP products into a company’s IT ecosystem has become more complex. But many of these deployments can be done in the cloud as opposed to on-premise in response to the challenges of supporting a distributed workforce.
To illustrate this point, Mrugal explained how Vistaprint, an SAP customer, was able to complete its deployment of SAP S/4HANA for supply chain and finance during the epidemic with help from SAP and Cloud4C, an SAP partner and cloud management service.
Industries Moving to the Cloud
As customers become more comfortable with using the cloud in their technology stack, SAP announced two cloud-based innovations. First, as the company looks to address the needs of all its customers across all industries, SAP will have entire industry-specific clouds for its users.
“This will allow out our customers to run their entire business in the cloud,” Stemler said.
This offering will include industry-specific solutions from partners covering 25 different industries and 125 subverticals. This initiative would not be possible without the SAP partners who build vertical applications and solutions on SAP platforms.
Second, SAP has committed to assist with the transition if a customer decides to move onto a cloud provider like Google or Amazon.
“Hyperscalers are a huge force in the market,” said “Stemler. “If a customer has decided to move its platform or workflows with a particular hyperscaler, then will make sure that [the platform or workflows] run on that infrastructure successfully.”
SAP App Curation
Some of the biggest changes announced at the SAP Global Partner Summit were centered around apps. The SAP App store features more than 1,500 partner solutions covering different industries and product lines. To increase the number of quality applications featured in the store, SAP unveiled its Partner Solution Progress framework. This will allow partners to bring their solutions to market sooner, while also giving a pathway for the applications to be validated by SAP.
“Customers will see that we have vetted solutions and are putting a lot of thought into how to enrich and enhance the portfolio,” said Mani Pirouz, senior vice president and global head of partner innovation at SAP.
Part of the Partner Solution Progress is the SAP Endorsed Apps initiative, which was announced during the event’s keynote. This designation is given by SAP and signifies to customers that the app in question is a quality product and has been vetted and tested by SAP.
“We want to make sure [partner apps] are at the highest level of quality for customers,” said Tom Roberts, senior vice president of the global partner organization at SAP.
Customer Success Isn’t About Sales
While the SAP Global Partner Summit focused on the software company’s many partners, the event still gives customers an insight into what SAP is thinking and how it is striving to make the customer experience better.
“Customer success is not about driving software sales,” said Marc Rolfe, senior vice president and co-lead of the global business development and ecosystems at SAP. “It’s about delivering end-to-end solutions.”