Happy New Year to all my readers!
I have spent the last month extracting from hundreds of pages of transcripts of my interviews for SAP Nation 3.0. I am struck by the frank comments from so many customers about SAP, its partners and its competitors. They realize these will be read by their peers at other customers and I appreciate their willingness to share. I know some of the comments will be used for competitive advantage. Fair warning to folks in the field – if you use it that way, bear in mind I have similar access to your customers and information about your products 🙂
Similarly, reading my notes from meetings with Franck Cohen, Rob Enslin, Nick Tzitzon and others at SAP, I see an openness which is refreshing. I give credit to Stacey Fish, my contact at SAP. She sets up calls/meetings and mostly observes even when we may be ganging up on her execs. She may ask me what I thought afterwards, but rarely does she push an overt agenda.
So, here is my request of other vendors – converse more with us, don’t just pitch. Don’t just outbound communicate to us, invite our inbound requests. Open up more access to your customers. I love how Plex invites us to join their Customer Advisory Board once a year. If not, not to worry, we can access customers through many other channels.
But do encourage your execs to be authentic. On that point, I see a trend for executives to talk about corporate “purpose”. I admire executive commitment to diversity and social good, but in the end as an analyst I am expected to focus on functionality, architecture and economics. When I talk to customers rarely do they say “corporate purpose” was the reason they selected a vendor. It may have been a tie breaker, rarely a item which counts for more than 10% in their scoring matrix.
On the other hand on functionality, architecture and economics I expect many more detailed conversations. As you will read in the book, SAP is in far better shape than people give it credit for. But SAP, its partners and its competitors have all missed out on many, many market opportunities in the last decade.
It’s a new year, and a very new market. Look forward to many more conversations.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)