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The Future of HR Is No HR

Published on 12 September in SAP
Mike Ettling renews SAP’s commitment to customers at SuccessConnect 2014: expanded road map clarity, support, and partner enablement

In his lively keynote to kick off SuccessConnect 2014 in Las Vegas this week, Mike Ettling, President of HR Line of Business at SAP, was greeted with enthusiastic applause from thousands of customers as he netted out the company’s commitment to directly support their business objectives. Liberally sprinkled with everything from high-potential millennials providing real-time demos on the collaborative power of SAP Jam, to a surprise visit from SuccessFactors founder, Lars Dalgaard, Ettling’s presentation was as entertaining as it was straightforward about SAP’s transformation.

Number one priority is listening to customers

According to Ettling, 75 percent of SAP’s new and updated solution functionality is directly based on feedback from its customers. “You guide it, you suggest it, we incorporate it into the road maps,” he said. “We want to deliver innovations faster to you than ever before. We want you to be able to turn on these innovations a lot faster at your own pace. We really pride ourselves on getting closer to you and understanding your needs and being responsive to your demands.

Noting that many companies forget the service aspects of software-as-a-service, Ettling said, “My commitment to you is that over the next six months, we’re going to turn service into a differentiator for us in the marketplace.”

He then provided a blueprint for how SAP is changing not only services, but also increasing road map transparency and lowering TCO. This transformation is part of a process that will see the implementation of over 45 recommendations based on recently surveyed customers and their expectations of service in a SaaS-based world. Ettling said this will take SAP’s service to a level it’s never been before that will meet and exceed customer expectations. The changes encompass expanded support operations, improved training programs, doubling the size of customer advocacy groups, and the roll-out of the company’s centralized service model for all SAP solutions including cloud and on-premise software. In addition, a new case prioritization model will align with customer business criticality.

Partner-driven support for a Trip Advisor-like experience

SAP is also increasing partner training, and creating a transparent, self-driven partner assessment process in the community. “Think of it as a Trip Advisor for partners,” said Ettling. “We are also investing in our partners through better training and implementation of support and oversight. A significant amount of training is being made to train all customer-facing roles from adoption to support to sales to our product specialists. We’re launching the partner help desk to enable our partners to get rapid resolution when they’re implementing solutions for you.”

Acknowledging that reducing TCO is the overall promise of cloud, Ettling emphasized SAP’s to customer self-sufficiency. To further that end, SAP will open up its partner-enablement training directly to customers.

Road map transparency widely praised

Ettling received the most audience applause when he announced plans to publish product road maps 12 months in advance, providing customers with clearer insight into new functionalities before they are available. Beginning next year, SAP will separate test and production environments allowing customers to regression test and understand upcoming innovations earlier. Customers will also receive a single release document 60 days prior to production releases.

At the same time, Ettling said SAP is continuing to streamline customer migration to the cloud. This includes efforts that simplify and improve productized integrations for “hands-free” migration to the cloud, as well as investments in data center infrastructure worldwide. “We now have a network of ten centers around the world enabling you to run your environments and applications to satisfy different legal requirements.”

The future of HR is no HR

In his closing remarks, Ettling predicted that HR will become the enabler of business goals and the CEO’s objectives when it ceases to exist for its own sake. “HR’s agenda and the business agenda will truly become one,” he said. “The future of HR is no HR.”

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