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Former Member
The Digital Transformation is here. It effects all aspects of our lives – not only our private, but also our business life. After outlining the changes and challenges IT is facing with the Digital Transformation, let me illustrate with two examples how The IT Services organization at SAP shows the way to design user centric solutions.

Putting the User in the Center of building IT Solutions

How does SAP IT Services realize and emphasize user centricity? Two examples outline the road to taking the challenges and embracing disruptive changes.


The Unified Ticketing App in the Fiori Launchpad

IT is not the only service unit in a major company. There is Facility, HR, Car Fleet, Security, Purchase and many more. In the past contacting any of them often meant using specialized processes and – moreover – dedicated ticketing systems. At SAP, we also faced a mixture of information and transaction based modalities. With the Fiori Launchpad and the built-upon Unified Ticketing App a change in these paradigms was introduced: SAP employees are now able to direct their support requests to 12 different service units with only one interface.

This offers the users a lot of advantages in a modern interface:

  • Multi-Platform: the Fiori Launchpad is web based, the users can interact with it on laptops, tablets, smart phones and any internet connected device – the backend takes care of rendering the contents for the device. The backend for all devices is unique.

  • Multi-Channel and Process Unification: “One Face to the Customer” becomes reality. With the Unified Ticketing App the users are provided with one interface that lets them address multiple service units.

  • Information vs. Transaction: Our customers, now have disjoint sources for information (the Corporate Portal) and another one for transaction based interactions (Unified Ticketing).

One and a half year after its release the users have been creating over 275.000 tickets using the Unified Ticketing App. Furthermore, 2.1 million visits were counted – that is more than 115.000 clicks per month.

Skype for Business at SAP 

Being grown for nearly 40 years, IT Services in 2010 faced the fact that the communication and collaboration landscape was highly scattered. Adobe Connect, WebEx, Videoconference Systems, Telepresence Systems, the Netphone, Smartboards and the non-uniform classic PBX infrastructure on the one handside and two media (IP and telephony) on the other resulted in high manual effort for interoperability and housekeeping.

In 2011, the request for pilot for a new collaboration platform was initiated. The requirements were summarized in 4 points:

  • Future Ready: the solution should allow access from as many devices as possible. Especially mobile access was considered highly important.

  • Unified Communication and Collaboration: the scattered landscape should be removed in favor of only one platform for all SAP employees to virtually come together and work on projects.

  • Improved Interoperability: the manual effort for interoperability had to be decreased to a minimum.

  • Managed Service for Backend and Support: As a result of the first three requirements, the project team chose to go for a maximum scalable solution. Since then, an external service provider takes care of managing the backend as well as the support.

In late 2011 the pilot phase started. After the decision for Microsoft Lync (2014 renamed to Skype for Business) the implementation was done from 2012 until the end of Q1 2016. Today, all SAP employees are working on Skype for Business. Looking back at the project and its introduction 5 key takeaways were identified and kept for future projects:

  • #1 Unified Communication and Certified Hardware: Skype for Business enables the users to communicate and collaborate with a huge variety of different devices ranging from the mobile app over hard phones up to conference setups called Skype Room Systems. In parallel, in order to assure the best audio quality we recommend the users to always choose certified headsets.

  • #2 Prevent Co-Existence: Introducing new technology while keeping the legacy in place often results in bad results and a low adaptation rate by users. Taking this into consideration, we radically removed station phones, hard phones and presenter PCs from meeting rooms and installed Lync ready hardware.

  • #3 Preserve User Experience: On the other hand, forcing user adaptation must be accompanied with supporting the users’ habits. Besides that, the senior management needs to be convinced: managers using new technology happily are a role model for the employees. Thus, frustration is reduced to a minimum. Before migrating the high level managers we send out an inquiry to their assistants to get to know their call habits. As a commitment to key users with classic behavior we exchanged these managers’ and assistants’ PBX desk phones with Lync hard phones.

  • #4 Early Adopters and Accidental Go-Live: In July 2011, a record rainfall caused a flood disaster in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the SAP office was heavily damaged: the whole server room was flooded and the PBX was destroyed. At that time the pilot phase for Lync was still in progress and the decision was not taken finally. The disaster recovery team had to decide between renting an old PBX for a few months with high costs or choose the product in favor – Lync. They went for the second option and equipped the whole office with the 180 colleagues with a Lync gateway and respective headsets and phones. The experiences made there helped a lot during the further steps in the implementation phase.

  • #5 User Communication is essential: During the introduction of Lync/Skype for Business at SAP we put a lot of effort to educate and convince the users:

    • We offered and still offer “Demo at Your Desk” sessions in Germany, where an IT colleague can be booked to come to a user group’s desk. The group gets a dedicated training session regarding topics that are identified in prior to the session

    • IT Services produced education videos and slide shows to train the SAP employees as best as possible.

    • Two actions were directing at the senior management. We tried to help the high level management to adapt to Lync by exchanging the PBX infrastructure with hard phones that allow to stick to the adapted behavior. Besides that, we put much effort into the “GLT initiative” where we interviewed the Global Leadership Team of SAP and their assistants with regards to their acceptance of Skype for Business. If there were complaints we offered dedicated “Demo at Your Desk” sessions to get them all on track.

    • Furthermore, we offered trainings, knowledge transfer sessions, social media, etc. in order to give the information to the SAP employees in the way they can consume it best.

These figures clearly show that the introduction of Skype for Business at SAP is a great success story.
What are your expectations towards your IT department? Do you already live user centricity?