SAP – How the software supply chain connects through social media

pchatter    October 26, 2015


Organization Name:  SAP SE

Industry:  Software

Web References:  Company Website, Twitter, Facebook

SAP SE is a software company based out of Waldorf, Germany. SAP provides solutions in the space of enterprise software, which helps companies around the world, manage their business operations and customer relations. SAP operates in over 190 countries, affecting over 293,500 customers.

Supply Chain is often thought of as a term used in more “traditional” brick and mortar industries. The definition can be summarized as moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Often we think about how goods get from business to business, or from business to the end consumer. The steps involve are often complex requiring logistics management, procurement, conversion and many other additional activities.

In the software industry, though there is not a physical good in the traditional sense, software releases, fixes, patches and their impact also need to move in a seamless and easy manner from the software vendor to the end customer. I work at SAP as a Senior Director of Product Marketing for Analytics, focusing on Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) software. The software I work with helps organizations perform Budgeting and Forecasting tasks. Currently every new feature and function we provide with our solutions helps customers gain the competitive edge on being able to understand their business better and being able to drive better decisions.

Customers invest time and money in ensuring they model business scenarios using SAP EPM software. In many cases, this software is of mission critical importance. SAP releases Support Packages for the software on set schedule. Each of these Support Packages are made up of many patches, which is a code-correction for a specific version of the software. The patches also include innovations and new features, which greatly enhance the performance and capabilities of the software. It is imperative that customers understand the frequency of the Support Packages for the EPM software, what is upcoming with the software package and how this might affect the way, they conduct their business (e.g. with new functionality).

To facilitate this, SAP has created a hub called SAP Service Marketplace.  At SAP Service Marketplace, all customers with a unique ID and Password combination are able to log in and search through the products they own, the roadmap of the products (features and functions planned over time) as well as current releases and innovations in the support packs.  This may seem straightforward and easy, but the communication of these activities, features and releases leverage social media to ensure that customers are aware of the solutions available now and in the future and sot that they are in the loop and leveraging the most current releases.

Some Support Packs are sometimes comprised of a few patches, other times it is an entirely new release, with major benefits and social media is used to convey these benefits to customers to ensure that customers are adhering to the latest releases levels for EPM products. Recently SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 10.1, version for SAP NetWeaver (SAP BPC 10.1NW) was released for customers and though this created a lot of excitement, there were also questions from customers in terms of what this would mean for them and did they need to upgrade? To ensure the continuance of the supply chain (making sure customers move to the latest version), social media was widely deployed. This included blogs, videos, tweets, and customer testimonials.

In speaking with Derek Johnson, Senior Director of Product Management at SAP for Analytics (EPM) “As part of the product management team, we ensure the right level of innovation for our customers through Service Packs. However customers need to be satisfied that there is no disruption to their business from these patches we ask them to apply and thus the use of social media to convey the message and reasoning behind each release is of the utmost importance to ensure their migration and ultimately the highest level of customer satisfaction.”

Lessons Learned:

At SAP where customers that are using on premise software, upgrades and latest releases need to be pulled by the customer, and this means ensuring that they are comfortable that the innovation presents no disruption to their business processes. Social media platforms allow SAP to communicate the timing, features and benefits of latest releases to their customers so as to ensure a high level of comfort and understanding. The supply chain in this regard continues in ensuring a smooth transfer of the software solution directly from vendor to the end customer.

Submitted By: Pras Chatterjee

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