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Former Member

By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

Customer experience is a critical part of marketing. Ken Olsen, former CEO of DEC, ingrained this philosophy in me almost 30 years ago by stating that our mission is to delight our customers because they are the entire reason why we exist.

I fundamentally believe that’s one of the many reasons why SAP has been so successful for over four decades. Throughout that time, the company has transitioned across all three eras of computing: the 1st platform of mainframes, the 2nd platform of client/server and earlier Internet computing, and now, the 3rd platform of innovations from big data and analytics to mobile, social, and cloud computing.  More important, SAP is taking the 3rd platform to a new level by embracing the aggregation of customers consuming platform solutions in the “new normal” of cloud and “everything as a service” solutions.

The same can be said for SAPPHIRE NOW. My box of “conference mementos”—which may not have the same “wow” factor of my sports memorabilia collection of a framed jerseys, signed pictures of favorite players and championship teams – houses a series of national flag logos and pins from an early SAP SAPPHIRE event. When I look at them, I am reminded of the best part of my job – meeting, listening, and interacting with our customers.

Here’s a preview of customers we’ll be highlighting in the Digital Business Services Campus and throughout the event.

1. SAP Digital Business Services Customer Panel

My longtime colleague and friend Marianne Heer, senior vice president and head of Digital Business Services – North America at SAP, will be moderating the panel “Make Quicker and More Informed Decisions with Predictive Analytics” featuring some great customers:

  • Mohawk Industries, the world largest flooring company, will highlight the advantages of predictive analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

  • CenterPoint Energy, a Fortune 500 electric and natural gas utility, will discuss its use of the SAP HANA platform and various solutions to simplify its deployments of SAP solutions.

Personally, I am a fan of customer panels. They are a quick and efficient way to hear great information first-hand from experts and gain key takeaways. And I’m sure this one will be no different!

2. SAP Digital Business Services Customer SAPPHIRE Theater Sessions

The SAPPHIRE NOW Customer Theaters will certainly not disappoint attendees with its schedule of diverse companies and experiences, such as:

  • EMC Corporation, a long-time SAP customer and partner, will present “Improve Competitive Advantage through Co-Innovation“ and will focus on how EMC and SAP Digital Business Services created a front-end for SAP Hybris solutions with the SAP CRM application powered by SAP HANA. EMC will showcase its custom user interface streamlining the user experience and meeting EMC’s unique needs.  Focused on a customer engagement and commerce solution with elements of both “how” and customization, you’ll soon see the transformation happening behind the scenes of its merger with Dell.

  • Loblaws Companies Limited, the largest food retailer in Canada, is proof of the “how” for innovation.  In the session “Drive Simplification and Reduce Complexity to Run Simple,“ Loblaws will present its streamlined approach to delivering and governing SAP solutions, increasing user adoption, and reducing operational costs. You’ll discover how an SAP solution road map is helping to prioritize innovation and provide transparency across the business.

  • Ageas, a large multinational insurance company, will be featured in the industries customer panel, “Explore the Digital Transformation and Its Impact on Financial Services.” Since our customers ultimately view themselves within an industry of peers, this is an excellent opportunity to see how digital transformation can lead to new services, enhanced supplier interactions, and improved workforce engagement.

  • Mercedes-AMG is improving processes with the Internet of Things and real-time analytics and will present “Journey to Digital Transformation with the Internet of Things”.  It’s a great  IoT story through engine diagnostics and testing data (all machine-generated data) being fed into analytics – for real-time display and analysis of test data

3. SAP Digital Business Services ASUG Customer Sessions

SAPPHIRE NOW is co-located with the ASUG conference, and all attendees can join sessions co-located within the Orlando Convention Center.  Just a short walk from the SAPPHIRE NOW show floor, I’m planning to cover the following:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the finest educational institutions in the world and SAP’s first public services customer, is hosting “MIT's Migration to SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud: A Fast-Track Journey.” Its story is a prime example of how digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. In six months, MIT successfully migrated its on-premise SAP ERP application systems to the cloud with SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. A panel of experts will provide insights on potential pitfalls, mitigations of risk, and key lessons learned.  (Note: MIT will also be presenting a SAPPHIRE NOW session “Accelerate Your Innovation Journey through Cloud Deployment” discussing how to enable quicker, better-informed decisions and leveraging SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service as a foundation to its road map for future innovation initiatives).

  • Rockwell Automation Inc. is a North American provider of industrial automation and information products and long-time SAP customer. In the session “Rockwell Automation: Redefining the Proposal Management Process,” you’ll soon see why the company is a fascinating study of outcomes-based solutions.  A challenge for Rockwell was reducing the cost and time of quoting for engineered orders with an overall need boost revenue. This required co-innovation with SAP MaxAttention services to build a solution with tighter process integration, improved agility, greater visibility, better user experience, and less customization.

Take a look at the great content including keynotes, breakout sessions, specific expertise, and much more by visiting our agenda builder and meet our SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG speakers.

As the head of thought leadership for SAP Digital Business Services Marketing, I’ll come back next week with a quick overview of thought leadership displayed at SAPPHIRE NOW as we pack our bags for Orlando!

Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Join Fred online: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,, SAP Services Hub