ASUG's CEO sat down with SearchSAP.com at the annual Sapphire conference to discuss member reaction to HANA, SAP's in-memory initiative, and the changes she's seen with SAP's new leadership. Chambers also talks about how ASUG is addressing the influx into the user group community of new SMB customers via Business ByDesign and business intelligence customers from Business Objects.
Read the full transcript from this video below:
ASUG's Bridgette Chambers discusses HANA, BOBJ, SAP's CEOs
Barney Beal: Bridget thanks for joining us.
Bridgette Chambers: You bet. Thanks, Barney.
Barney Beal: So maybe we can start off obviously on in-memory
is a big focus this year at Sapphire?
Bridgette Chambers: It is.
Barney Beal: And pretty much a kind of technology for big companies
come with the speed money to spend. Give us some sense of
what ASUG members have expressed interest about or concerns
about with HANA.
Bridgette Chambers: Sure, well let's talk first about the interest
that they have in HANA. I mean obviously the scalability, the speed
associated with in-memory technology is very exciting, being able to
move away from a database and focus on better, faster speeds with
less complexity, very exciting. Obviously those things create some
questions, they want to understand what exactly is going to be baked
into this, what's the release cycle going to be? What does this mean
from an expense perspective on the hardware, so I think the roadmap
that's going to, I hope, be more clear as of the conversations that Bill,
Jen, Shawn and Hossa will share here at Sapphire. I think that
that will give us all much more clarity into how those questions are
Barney Beal: Okay. And just in terms of some of the core challenges you've seen,
are they still pretty much the same or are you seeing some shifts there?
Is it still upgrades and kind of getting value out of your existing investment?
Bridgette Chambers: Sure, from a customer perspective, those are
definitely questions that people continue to answer, and it is my feeling
that those are always going to be questions that they answer and I think
what we do is we get smarter about how we help customers assume and
predict the way to move and upgrade through their investments with SAP.
Barney Beal: How do you do that?
Bridgette Chambers: Well I think what we do, and I'm excited
to tell you about it, we're launching a program to focus on exactly
that as we build a knowledge base. One of the ideas and a key area
that we're launching during our annual conference is the integrated
enterprise. This is an important program that helps customers understand
what the sticking points are, what the challenges are when you consider
moving from on premise to the cloud, when you think about going mobile.
And by building this knowledge base, we help customers be more predictive
about creating their own solutions to some of these challenging questions
that come up. And the great thing is, much like we've always done for the
last 20 years, is that it's all customer-led, so it's customers sharing with
customers success stories about how they successfully navigated through
these challenging areas.
Barney Beal: Have you seen a shift in the way customers communicate
with one another? I mean, there are so many outlets out there now,
how does a company do that?
Bridgette Chambers: Well here's some exciting stuff. We're looking at 15,000
people between Sapphire now and annual conference, so I think people
are still very excited about getting in front of one another, exchanging ideas,
they're signing up for session after session. We ran eight pre-conference
sessions, some of which were standing room only. People want to share
information face to face. And what we can also tell you is that for the other
364 days out of the year, we've seen a significant increase in our webcasts
and in our specific content, so people are looking to consume faster, more
specific so they can answer these tough questions. I think that's a great trend.
Barney Beal: Jim and Bill have been aboard about a year and a half now.
Give us your thoughts on how you've seen SAP change with them aboard.
Bridgette Chambers: Sure, I'd be happy too. I think that they're doing
a great job. They came out with a great message. I think February
is when they came out together. It's, we're listening to the customer.
I was in DCOM that year and I watched Jim get on stage and talk to
developers about having customers in the lab, having customers in the
development process. And when I talk to Bill, it's the same kind of
concept except it's let's get the customer involved in how we're
thinking about licensing. Let's get the customer involved in how
we're doing a knowledge exchange. And what I see from them,
while they're taking their respective routes, is that they're listening to
the customer and they're building into this SAP infrastructure a
customer-centric view of how to look forward, and I think that that's
great stuff. It's a big company; a battleship doesn't turn on a dime,
but I think they're moving in the right direction.
Barney Beal: Well, speaking of big companies, SAP is also making a move
toward smaller organizations with Business by Design is kind of a
different animal. Most of your members are SMR3 or ACC6, what
does ASUG do to deal with a Business by Design?
Bridgette Chambers: Sure, well we have personal experience with by
design, we're by design customers. So we have an appreciation for
the value associated with the by design product, but let's talk more
about the SMB and the Russell 2000 market, because there are
obviously more solutions out there than just by design. There's also
business one, there are some other ways that they're serving the
SMB market. We have a big reach-in to those groups. In fact, last year,
our Pacific Northwest chapter had a large business one summit meeting
at Nike and we brought over a thousand people together to sit down and
really focus on how small organizations would use the software, how they
would interact with channel partners, how they would continue to extract
value from their investments, and it's a different situation where the
profile is different. They have needs that are a little different than large
enterprise, and I think that ASUG has done a good job in learning how
to break apart our segments and serve our respective customers in the
way that speaks with what their needs are.
Barney Beal: Isn't it what somebody there's a similar program for the business
objects folks then, not necessarily all the SAP customers?
I mean, what's in that?
Bridgette Chambers: So, this time last year, we announced a value
ship for our business objects customers. This was our way of welcoming
business objects customers into ASUG, and since then we've created
some integration programs so that we're actually bringing business
objects leaders and influencers into our local chapters 38 local chapters.
And that's an interesting integration point, because typically they've been
led by more traditional SAP customers so when they think about business
intelligence, they're still talking about net weaver, they're still talking
about business warehouse and now you've got these business
objects customers who come in and they want to have a different
type of discussion.
We've been successful in some areas such as Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth,
and other chapters who have successfully integrated and helped at a
local level bring the business objects customer in. At a national level,
we've rolled out a number of programs including our strategic sig that
we launched at our influencer in October.
And let me take a minute to tell you about this strategic sig, because
I have a specific amount of pride associated with this. We brought
together about 65 influencers the day before a business objects
summit last year. We called these folks together and said help us
understand the priorities associated with the customer and with the
community. We later that night introduced Steve Lucas and some of
his team to those influencers and a list of priorities. Within three days,
we had a workflow, we had subject matter experts, we had executive
and program sponsors, and we committed to a year long program to
drive improvements in four key areas, and we're going to announce
our findings of that in our October influencer summit.
So I think there's been a number of ways that we've served the
business objects segment and when you look forward towards
other acquisitions that have been made, we're making inroads
already with the side-base user group and offering them support
so that side-base customers can experience what ASUG customers
experience and create some entree so that ASUG customers can work
with the side-base user group as well.
Barney Beal: Well, and to close this out, you can look into the future,
a week from now, what do you hope to have accomplished or have
seen coming out of Sapphire?
Bridgette Chambers: Now is going to be on the list, but after that I
think that what we get from here is much more physical traction.
I think that I speak on behalf of the board of directors as well as
headquarters that we have been really excited with the level of
appreciation and collaboration that we get from all areas within
SAP up to Jim and Bill, and I think that from an annual conference
perspective, from a Sapphire perspective, the alignment between the
two becomes more visible and I think that that serves customers
across North America in a fantastic way.
Barney Beal: Okay. Great, thanks very much.
Bridgette Chambers: Oh you bet. Thanks, Barney Beal.