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Hi folks,

as SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid has come to its official close with the keynote of Vishal Sikka, talking about "HANA, the logical platform", thought I'd write a few words to summarize what I personally learned (or got remined of) about our cloud story telling over the past 3 days.

  • We still have a bit of work to do to make our overall Cloud story even easier to understand
  • Making the story easier to understand is not necessarily accomplished by leaving out details or by making the story more "high level"
  • Our Cloud story itself is great, but we have to tell it in an even more relevant way to the respective "point of departure" of the specific audience
  • There is no one-size fits all presentation or story

Content only becomes relevant through context

Here is what I mean specifically:

  • Many large Enterprise customers running SAP today will have a primary interest in making the best use of what they already have. We need to be inclusive of that situation in our positioning and go-to-market, and tell them about a 3-step approach consisting of (a) virtualization and cloud management of their existing environment to achieve infrastructure cost savings and agility, (b) deploying well-integrated Line-of-Business applications such as SuccessFactor HR solutions, Ariba solutions, or small focused cloud apps such as SAP Travel OnDemand or SAP Sales OnDemand, to extend the reach of their existing investments, and (c) deploying complete cloud solutions such as SAP Business ByDesign or SAP Business One OnDemand to roll out a 3-tier ERP model to affiliates or subsidiaries. Sometimes it is quite possible do all three steps in parallel, but the right approach will differ with each customer and by situation.
  • Smaller and Midsize Enterprises, which typically do not have a large IT department or staff, are most likely to ask for an easy solution, and will most likely be confused with all the talk about virtualization, platforms, multi-tenancy, integration, SaaS, Paas, IaaS and so forth. They will want to hear about complete solutions, preferably tuned to their specific type of business or industry, and delivered by a business partner in their region.
  • Solution and Service Partners typically mostly care about the business model (in other words the question: "How do I make money?"). While the product is important, of course, it's much more important how the product supports their model of value creation. Specifically, Value-Added Resellers and Independent Software Developers (ISV) will have a lot of questions about the underlying platform, development environments and interfaces. The typical enterprise customer does not really care about the platform, but will definitely care about solutions characteristics such as capabilities, localization, security, release cycles, add-on availability etc.

Businesss have only one thing in common: they all need to be different

In a high-intensity, compressed format like SAPPHIRE, you typically try to make your presentations all encompassing and high-level enough to fit all of the above use cases. And when you talk to influencers including press, analysts, bloggers and user group leads like I typically do, will be confronted with questions across the whole spectrum dozens of times per day. By creating the "all-singing, all-dancing" slide deck, we create a high risk of not doing justice to any one specific audience in enough detail. Or, on the converse, risk by overwhelming the audience by providing too much detail in some areas. This is an inherently tricky problem for product marketing, and can really only be solved by engaging in a conversation, starting with a question, as opposed to one-way communication.

I think have made great strides in shortening the presentations, focusing on interactive micro-forums, hands-on demo stations and all kinds of ways to enable conversations. And while things are already much better, simpler, more visual and more interactive, I think we (and I fully include myself) still have ways to go to improve the story-telling aspect of talking about Cloud even more. Maybe the ultimate goal should be that we don't even have a Cloud Campus at the next SAPPHIRE, but try to ensure Cloud has become an integral part of every other campus? Maybe we should strive to tell the cloud story in the context of industry, in the context of roles, and in the context of business type, to make sure people understand that ...

Cloud is not an option, but simply the next step on how IT is done.

Note: Remember, this is just my point of view.

I'd be interested to hearing from you about this idea, and how you think we can be more effective in getting across how our cloud portfolio can really transform the way people do business, no matter if they are working in large or small company, or if you are making technology, or simply wanting to enjoy the consumption of great services.

CHHO, Madrid, 15.11. 2012