SAP to focus on ‘delightful’ SME customer experience

Kevin Gilroy, senior vice president and general manager of Global Small & Midmarket Segment at SAP

Kevin Gilroy, senior vice president and general manager of Global Small & Midmarket Segment at SAP

Technology has always been about automating manual processes to expedite outcomes. Unfortunately, much of IT history is replete with a focus on what hardware and software products are – classic “speeds and feeds” – than what they produce.

SAP wants to change that with its latest push into the small and midsize enterprise (SME) market by focusing on the outcomes of its products and the experience of customers. In a word, SAP wants its customers to have a “delightful” experience.

“Are we delighting the customer and user? Are we giving them a delightful experience?” is the goal expressed by Kevin Gilroy, senior vice president and general manager of Global Small & Midmarket Segment at SAP.

 SAP is aiming to become the dominant provider of business software to SMEs, which it defines as typically under 1,000 employees or around $500 million in revenue. It’s formed a dedicated business unit to exclusively address the market segment. It’s also created a line of products, such as Edge and BusinessOne, which are tailored specifically for SME users and not rehashed versions of enterprise products. And SAP has introduced acquisition programs such as “buy now, pay later” to help SMEs more easily consume its products.

All of these programs and initiatives are designed around the concept of experience and outcomes. SAP understands that SMEs are not so enamored with software and technology products are as they are with what they can do to facilitate a better produce, streamline operations or open new revenue streams.

The end goal is to create a “delightful” experience that meets and exceeds the expectations of the changing customer, says Gilroy, in an interview with Channelnomics.

It’s an important point Gilroy raises: the changing nature of the customer.

The reason IT hardware and software companies have traditionally focused so much attention on the features and functionality of their products is because IT vendors have are built around engineers and their customers have typically been technologist and engineers, too. The dynamic has been hardware and software engineers selling to and supporting chief information officer, IT directors and systems administrators.

Outcome-based experience is more important to the new class of buyer – marketers, salespeople, line of business managers, who base their purchasing decisions around their goals. What’s important to them, Gilroy says, is that a product such as ERP or CRM does what they need it to do quickly and easily; less important are the discreet functions.

Delightful experience is more than a tagline; it’s a culture that SAP is pushing through its channel. SAP is instilling the same concept and ideal through reseller partners by providing them with training and support that aims toward providing customers with better experiences.

SAP’s “delightful” experiment is still in its infancy, but it may yet prove that outcomes trump input in the customer experience category.

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