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Thứ Năm, 24 tháng 10, 2013

Try before you buy is the new SAP app mantra - Diginomica

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| On October 23, 2013

I make no apology for this week being a tad SAPtastic. There’s some good stuff going on at TechEd.

Those of us with long memories will recall the days when an SAP boardroom demo was little more than a slick PowerPoint, where the prospect was qualified in as a potential big spender and where, if you were lucky, SAP would turn up – provided you’d shelled the $12-15,000 for the pleasure. Thankfully those days are well behind all of us.

Variations on the freemium model pioneered in the consumer space have seen to that. Today, SAP is adopting a model that many in the SME space have found successful – free trial before you buy.

I am a big fan of this model because when correctly established, it provides a great learning experience for the vendor and becomes the sales cycle for the solution.

Earlier this month I wrote extensively about SAP BW on HANA via AWS as a free trial. In the above video, Vijay Vijayasankar gives insights into how well that trial is going: 9,000 hours and 320 customers in three weeks. Building upon those initial results, he is extending that go to market to include all new apps.

Many of these apps are what he calls ‘purposeful,’ and all will be delivered in the cloud. That is to say these apps are designed to solve a specific business problem, often in a vertical market but equally they could be horizontal. In an earlier briefing, we discussed some retail examples.

The applications will be ‘lean.’ That is they will have core functionality that provides enough for prospects to assess usefulness. They will not be ‘boil the ocean’ type applications. So for instance, Vijay’s team will not build for every use case or for every user. Instead, they will look for high value problems in the short term with solutions that can be brought to market within six months.

This is a lofty ambition but fits with the general transformation policy that SAP’s engineering teams are promoting internally.

From a customer perspective, the risk is zero. If the product doesn’t fit or doesn’t meet expectations then they can throw it away. From SAP’s perspective, limiting development in the early iterations provides a way to test solutions without going down long run development cycles.

Throughout, SAP will measure how the application performs, look for learnings and expect to ‘fail fast.’ This is not new to SAP but it is the most transparent representation of the concept of ‘fast and lean’ I have seen in that company.

As always, I will be following these developments as they have significant implications for customers and partners going forward. Some colleagues are skeptical, pointing to many past failures. My sense is that if Vijay gets appropriate internal resource, then he will succeed. Why?

His background of discipline born out of 10 plus years training at IBM means he knows how to build and motivate teams. Vijay doesn’t have a software background but does ‘get’ customers’ needs, what makes them happy and what they choose to avoid. He also has the benefit of having led SAP services teams and seen what works and what fails. An odd combination perhaps but then Vijay is also smart enough to understand the way enterprise software development is being influenced by consumer trends and is humble enough to know who to approach for help and sense testing.

Disclosure: SAP covered most of my travel costs for attending TechEd and is a premier partner.

Dennis Howlett has been taking the buyer's perspective in analysing application vendor offerings for more than 22 years following a 20 year successful career in IT and finance related roles. 'Never knowingly under opinionated,' Howlett takes strong positions in the interests of getting to the truth of what drives customer value.

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