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We surveyed the leading partners in EMEA South to find out what their number one business challenges were. And then we quizzed leading SAP executives Cathy Daum, Global Senior VP Go-to-Market & Scale Partnerships, Esperanza Valbuena, VP of Midmarket Digital Sales, and Pablo Signorelli, Senior VP of Midmarket & Partners, on how the partners could rise to those challenges. A survey of leading EMEA South partners into the biggest business challenges they face today returned some consistent – if not altogether surprising – responses. Attracting, retaining, and nurturing talent was by far the leading challenge facing most partners. In some cases, work was being turned away because the capacity within the business wasn’t there.

As Nuno Figuerido, Sales & Marketing Director of Abaco Consulting said: “There is great demand in the market and we have some great projects in the pipeline, but sometimes we have to refuse or even postpone these deals because we do not have the capacity to execute. It’s our number one challenge.”

Click here to watch Nuno.

Marc Haberland, CEO of Clariba SEIDOR, says that in the vibrant, fast-growing Middle East, attracting talent and retaining that talent from the vast number of customers managing their own digital transformations, is a challenge. He says: “We work in a region where our access to talent isn’t as abundant as in other parts of the world. So we’re attracting an extremely diverse talent pool of people moving to the Middle East from other countries. We have to provide them with a safe space to work and thrive. Then there is a cost impact of retaining those employees and, because of the war on talent, especially again in the analytics space, which is where we operate, we’re having a lot of our competitors and also customers looking to bring well-trained talent from a consultancy like ours into their operations.”

Click here to watch Marc.

Roberto Gemma, CEO of Altea Up, he is taking a hybrid approach to finding resources. “We are a partner in the classroom, working with universities to hire and train new talent, and we hire experienced IT consultants from the market.”

Click here to watch Roberto.

SAP is supporting the capacity challenge in several ways including a brand new initiative called Drive2Deliver. It’s a programme that helps partners to hire individuals from universities and higher education institutions, managing the recruitment process but also the training of the talent so that partners can increase their ‘bench strength’. In addition, more experienced consultants should not be overlooked. Adds SAP’s Cathy Daum: “Very often one can find people in the market with real industry expertise, for example, and then they can be trained on the technology and become senior consultants in a very short period of time because they have that domain knowledge.”

Click here to watch Cathy.

Profitability is also a challenge for Marc – thanks to rising costs – and fellow partner Alexander Gallmetzer, CEO of Derga Consulting. Alexander says he has seen a clear shift since the advent of cloud adoption. He said it’s costing ‘a lot more money’ in terms of training and certification. Coupled with the rising costs generally of resources, he is unable to shift this immediately to his customer base. This results in ‘a gap’ and is a challenge for the company’s balance sheet.

Click here to watch Alexander.

Esperanza Valbuena and Pablo Signorelli, believe the ‘less is more’ approach can help partners to broaden their profitability. She says: “Partners need to rethink how to embrace new technologies, how to increase more adoption of artificial intelligence, to select the right markets to go after. And they need to shift to developing intellectual property.

“It is more critical than ever that there is a balance in the source of profit. That originally was more on the implementation services, on the selling of the licenses, and now it’s more to do with developing intellectual property. This means partners need to adapt to go to this new business model because it will require changes, redefinition, and even re-organisations, internally.”

Click here to watch Esperanza and Pablo.

With limited-time contracts via cloud transformation, for one partner, finding ways to extend relationships with customers was a key focus. Ahmed Ammar of LABS-Logical Applications for Business Solutions said: “Business continuity is our main challenge: how should we sustain the business? Not just for today and tomorrow but for the day after tomorrow and the following year?”

He added that the partner currently focuses on having a team for contract renewals in addition to developing and delivering contracts that include ‘long term services’ and making those services ‘sticky’ so that, alongside the solution itself, they are retaining that relationship with the customer.

Click here to watch Ahmed.

Cathy and Pablo agree that Customer Experience and post-sales support are essential in promoting long-term relationships in the era of the cloud. “After the project implementation, after the go-live, partners need to ensure that they can nurture that customer and therefore have good adoption and consumption, which leads to positive renewals,” says Cathy.

Adds Pablo: “The answer is very, very simple and very, very short: focus on customer experience. Obviously, we are selling solutions, we are selling value. But what's important for our customers are the outcomes that they get from those solutions. If our partners focus on that, focus on the outcomes, focus on the customer experience, they will get a better continuity than it was previously with on-prem.”

In a busy, competitive market with big opportunities (a €26billion opportunity according to IDC), knowing where to invest is a challenge for some. Dr. Bahri Danis of NTT DATA in Turkey is facing such an issue. “Developing new revenue streams is in our DNA. Five years ago, knowing where to invest was more concrete. But now we have so many opportunities, especially after the pandemic, that we need support knowing where to invest.”

Click here to watch Dr Bahri Danis.

Esperanza says that having a deeper understanding of your area of expertise as a partner and then using SAP’s market intelligence to find out where the opportunities lie, are key steps.
“SAP can get access to information to help partners to know where to invest. IDC for instance has published an industry ranking by country. Within that, of course, the partner needs to look at which customers to focus on. And that’s a complex step. But, there are new tools arriving that help to search for new sources of growth, to know within which industry partners should focus on. All these tools mean we can spend less time looking in the wrong places and more time on finding the right opportunity in the right market.”

Cathy lists three key areas for partners to consider when it comes to investment. First up, the introduction of Grow with SAP, the new program designed to support the delivery of S/4HANA public cloud in the midmarket space. Secondly, again, comes back to post-sales and having successful adoption, consumption, and renewals, all of which drive profitability in the cloud, and then the third area is Signavio. “It’s great for investigating process optimisation and is really resonating with customers,” she says.