SAP – Customer Engagement through the Development Network brings employees and customers together

pchatter    October 13, 2015


Organization Name: SAP SE

Industry: Software

Web References:  Company Website Twitter

SAP SE is a German software company based out of Waldorf, Germany with customers all over the world. SAP deals in the space of Enterprise Software, which allows organizations to manage their customers and business relations. With over 293,500 customers in over 190 countries, managing customer relationships and ensuring that there is constant engagement between the employees and customers with a free flow of information is primarily driven through the SAP Community Network (SCN)

Transparency is a key fundamental principle of the SAP SCN. Within the SCN it is organized by topics from the various product areas that the company services (e.g. ERP, CRM, HCM) where employees and users (customers and implementation partners) can post whitepapers, blogs, announcements, as well as directly post questions in forums to obtain assistance from SAP Experts both internally and externally.

I myself as an SAP employee am quite active on the SCN.   Through blogging about product releases, upcoming events as well as best practices, it helps to ensure that I can share information freely not only internally but externally as well to provide a solid framework so as to generate ideas and the free flow of information when it comes to the space I work within, Enterprise Performance Management.

Amongst the key focus areas of SCN is the ability for SAP to “listen” to its customers. SCN allows customers to navigate to SAP Idea Place . Within SAP Idea Place, customers can post ideas, vote on ideas posted by other users and then allow Product Development at SAP to view the ideas and decide which ideas maybe built into a future product release. According to Derek Johnson, Director of Product Management at SAP for Analytics “leveraging a forum such as SCN and Idea Place allows us to be close to our customers in a way not imaginable in the past. With this kind of platform we work as equals to ensure mutual success.”

This style of engagement is definitely that of a Community Builder whereby all parties are engaged in a manner so that the direction of SAP Products.  Over this past year, SAP announced the release of the S/4HANA Platform which is SAP’s next generation business suite.  This created a lot of excitement and understandably quite a few questions for customers in terms of how this would affect their current SAP platforms.  Within the SCN immediately a forum was made available to help customers gain direction and discuss with SAP and amongst themselves.

The SCN also awards users (both customers and employees) with “points” based on their postings, blogs and other usage rates. It’s created a large fanbase of users that strive to obtain points and thus impact the quality of the user experience on the SCN.

Lessons Learned

Although complete transparency is often thought of as a security risk in terms of competitive disclosure, most importantly it fosters for SAP a sense of goodwill and inclusion amongst its customers, system integrators, and employees.  When everyone knows all hands are available for everyone to view simultaneously, there is no fear of “what will happen next” but rather “what can we do together”.

Building a community that engages all constituents (especially customers), allows for a free flow of information and additionally loyalty that can help drive mutual future success between SAP and its customers.

Submitted By: Pras Chatterjee

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