Last August, SAP named Carmen Krueger as senior vice president and managing director for regulated industries of SAP North America, marking her return to the regulated industries business after a number of global roles with SAP.

In her position, Krueger leads the SAP U.S. Regulated Industries practice, which spans federal, state, and local government as well as higher education, aerospace and defense, healthcare, and utilities industries. Heading up strategy, business operations, revenue performance, customer relationships, and overall customer satisfaction across the U.S., Krueger sees her areas of responsibility as critical to SAP’s purpose of “making the world run better and improving people’s lives.”

Previously chief operating officer of the marketing and solutions board area at SAP, as well as the leader of SAP’s North American enterprise sales organization for Qualtrics, Krueger has spent the majority of her 18-year tenure at SAP within the regulated industries business, also serving in sales management positions for federal customers and as the first general manager of the SAP NS2 cloud line of business.

Six months into her new role, Krueger participated in an ASUG Q&A about her career path to date and the current challenges and opportunities within Regulated Industries.

This is an edited version of the interview.

Q. You’ve held multiple global roles with SAP but have recently returned to Regulated Industries, where you’ve spent most of your tenure with the company. What brought you back?

A. I consider it a professional privilege to return to the Regulated Industries market unit, where I have the opportunity to lead an incredible group of professionals and oversee a customer base that truly brings SAP’s purpose to life—making the world run better and improving people's lives. As you noted, I spent the bulk of my career within Regulated Industries, where I held various roles across our federal, state and local, and aerospace and defense teams. I have a lot of experience with these customers, and I understand the depth of the relationship they have with SAP and the digital transformation they have been undergoing for the past several decades.

In 2019, I started the SAP cloud line of business with SAP National Security Services (NS2). At that time, the government was just starting to look at cloud capabilities in earnest, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) was hitting its stride. Building that organization from the ground up allowed me to experience both the complexity and the benefits of moving to the cloud. Importantly, I also learned a tremendous amount from that team’s incredibly talented and experienced professionals.

I later joined the North American enterprise sales organization for Qualtrics, where I led the business that included the national government and healthcare vertical practices. It was an amazing journey to learn about Experience Management and its universal relevance to organizations, irrespective of industry, from the company that invented and leads the category: Qualtrics.

Most recently, after serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the SAP Marketing and Solutions Board Area, I gained a much more global perspective on SAP’s impact on our customers. I also was privileged to learn and contribute to the formation of this newly created Board Area.

So, coming back to your question: What brought me back to Regulated Industries? To put it simply, it is the mission and the people. We understand that “we are in service of making the world run better,” and executing that every day with passionate, talented, and creative colleagues is an honor and a privilege.

Q. What have you, and what has SAP, heard from North American customers about current challenges and opportunities in Regulated Industries?

A. The “Regulated Industries” moniker makes our organization sound like a tidy package, when in reality, the seven vertical industries under our banner— (1) federal civilian agencies, (2) defense agencies, (3) aerospace and federal systems integrators, (4) state and local government, (5) higher education and research, (6) utilities; (7) healthcare—each have very unique challenges. Nevertheless, there are common themes that resonate across these member customers.

Almost all of them, from the Secretary and “C-levels” down to program and IT leaders, want to rid their organizations of complexity. Implementing changes takes too long and is too expensive. They want their organizations to be more agile with the ability to reduce risk and cost at the same time. And they want to modernize their applications and technology stacks through cloud adoption. Of course, cyber security and compliance remain paramount, and securing their sensitive data is a top priority.

The experience of the past several years has taught all of us that modernization at the pace of the early 2000s will not suffice. Our customers recognize that innovations leading to greater agility, like cloud and intelligent technologies, provide the tools they need to face their new reality. The greater challenge is accelerating the processes for funding, acquiring, and implementing systems and evolving into a mindset and practice of continual evolution.

These challenges are no different, really, from the issues facing commercial and global enterprises, and SAP continues to play a major role in helping these organizations achieve their goals.

Q. Is there anything, across regulated industries, that shows notable improvement in response to those challenges?

A. Yes, actually. I will categorize the answer in two ways: cultural and technical.

First, a cloud-first mindset has taken root across our customer base. When the cloud entered the stage, the focus was on cost avoidance; in some cases, it was seen as a way to address the skill gaps around technology and, finally, a salve for degrading infrastructure and improved security. Today, collectively, we understand how much more the cloud can offer—for example, increasing agility in developing new capabilities, failing fast in the innovation process, leveraging AI, fast-tracking common operating pictures, improving analytics and data sharing, and increasing speed to innovation. It is not hypothetical; as Peter Pluim pointed out in his SAP Feature, there is a proven correlation between cloud adoption and revenue growth. Government and commercial customers no longer dispute the value of the cloud and, in fact, are leaning toward ways the cloud can improve service and mission delivery while also reinventing their business.

The second answer is more technical. In the past, frustratingly, many regulated industry customers relied on “customizing” their software applications to include SAP. These organizations spent years building bespoke applications to digitize their work without fundamentally improving business processes. IT modernization, while a step forward, could sometimes result in “repaved cow paths.” While the approach worked then, it’s a non-starter for cloud and cloud migrations. The cloud, and in our case, the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), allows for innovation without the disruption and technical debt of the past. So, it is really an opportunity for the one-two punch: business transformation executed under a modern, flexible platform allowing for responsible extensibility and agility.

Q. In your current role, you’re tasked with driving customer value and growing SAP’s public sector business. What’s your big-picture vision for doing so?

A. Here’s the bottom line: we don’t grow as a business unless we deliver value to our customers. That means helping our customers achieve their goals is our priority. This has always been true of SAP, particularly in a cloud world. Our engagement doesn’t end at the contract. We are committed to the ongoing partnership and the ongoing cycle of innovation and consumption. This, of course, is the value of the cloud, particularly our RISE offering: allowing our customers to innovate and consume at the pace that is right for them.

Hand in hand with value realization is to continue to partner with our customers on their modernization journey. SAP has 50 years of experience under our belt, with deep industry experience. We are well-practiced and well-versed in taking our customers from where they are to where they need to be—to help them meet the challenges of the future. It’s what SAP does best and what we’ll continue to do in the Regulated Industries market.

But not everyone knows this. While we’re blessed with a very long and impressive customer list, many organizations don’t know us or understand what we can deliver. There is often an outdated understanding of who the SAP of today is. We will focus on ensuring that our strategies, capabilities, and commitments are clear.

Our ecosystem is critical to both points. Our partner community will help us by helping our customers. They are critical in the delivery of business transformation and the lifecycle of innovation through the implementation of our cloud. Also, our ecosystem is crucial in creating new capabilities through our platform. This will allow for the rising tide of innovation across our customers and partners.

Q. What’s a recent example of an instance in which SAP solutions and challenges have enabled the public sector to simplify a complicated process and prioritize citizen-centric service?

A. I can’t just talk about one! I’ll highlight several examples where our customers improved citizen-centric services and business outcomes, achieving impactful transformation with SAP.

Houston METRO took advantage of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding to consolidate its fragmented maintenance, repair, and operations solutions into a single, unified SAP platform that allowed it to manage and upkeep its fleet of more than 400 hybrid buses and 76 light rail vehicles. The new system broke down walls between previously siloed operations and allowed for greatly improved collaboration between teams that used to operate entirely independently.

American Water provides regulated and regulated-like drinking water and wastewater services to an estimated 14 million people in 24 states. This utility leverages SAP Cloud for Energy and SAP S/4HANA to collect real and near real-time data from the meters for updated billing information. In the past, meter readings relied on resource-intensive truck rolls to gather the data. Now, smart meters act as sensors and capture data more frequently, providing American Water with a clearer understanding of actual consumption for improved billing and planning.

And the State of Illinois recently spoke to ASUG about their use of SAP and plans for the future with S/4HANA. They’re a great example of the types of conversations we’re having with many customers right now:

  • They know the importance of modernization.
  • They’re actively considering options.
  • They’re asking the right questions to get their systems and organizations ready for a transformation.

Finally, we must recognize our 2022 Innovation Awards winners:

  • Fulton County Schools, one of last year’s award winners, took advantage of a hybrid business model to integrate the entire organization while benefitting from a scalable and flexible solution. As a result of the successful implementation, FCS has transformed into a digital, proactive organization.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), another award winner, is running SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass solutions, which allowed them to build a rich, intelligent procurement functionality that enables them to automate purchasing workflows and work faster, processing transactions in a fraction of the previous time and managing a drastically increased workload. Meanwhile, advanced reporting options enable them to monitor and control procurement operations more closely and help ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

I will end with a call to action to make sure we get in all our 2023 Innovation Award nominations and celebrate more amazing customer successes!

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