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To Beat the Cool Kids, Behave Like a Startup

Published on 29 January in SAP
SAP Cloud for Planning is being talked about as next-generation enterprise performance management. It was developed by Gerrit Kazmaier and his team in a phased go-to-market approach.

Gerrit Kazmaier: “We’re in with the cool kids and we need to behave like a startup to beat them.”

Gerrit Kazmaier: “We’re in with the cool kids and we need to behave like a startup to beat them.”

SAP’s Gerrit Kazmaier has the magic touch these days. His SAP HANA Spatial team scooped joint first in the inaugural Founders’ Award. He is also the development manager for SAP Cloud for Planning, an upcoming release of enterprise performance management (EPM) software that he believes will “cause competitors to shiver.” And his team is revved like a startup on steroids.

The cloud planning application powered by SAP HANA is already being talked about as next-generation EPM, and that’s even before it’s launched on its February 2 release date. Customers can’t wait.

As Kazmaier tells it, “Our beta evaluation involved established EPM partners in North America, notably Deloitte and TruQua. They were immediately sold on it, and that’s where we got the most elaborate and insightful early feedback. At the EPM show in Chicago we truly let the cat out of the bag; that particular one sent shockwaves through the market.”

In spite of the product’s evident attributes, even more intriguing is Kazmeier’s approach – the team focus and pace. Kazmaier is vigorous. “We’re in with the cool kids and we need to behave like a startup to beat them.”

Not the classical ramp-up procedure

Kazmaier is driven. He’s got that hyperdrive needed for cloud development. Asked about ramp-up, he says: “We’re building a pipeline, and we’ll do a phased go-to-market more suited to cloud products instead of a special ramp-up. Now, don’t get me wrong; we closely govern this initial phase. We’ve got upper limits for the number of customers we can support in the first couple of months. We have strict control points.”

And the product? It’s a high-profile release that underpins the overall mission to shape a new world of analytics and ultimately define and own analytics in the cloud, all powered by SAP HANA.

SAP makes a dramatic leap in design and user-oriented software (screenshot from SAP Cloud for Planning)

SAP makes a dramatic leap in design and user-oriented software (screenshot from SAP Cloud for Planning)

Kazmaier points out: “Few would have thought SAP could make such a dramatic leap in design and user-oriented software. We are walking the talk, doing things simpler. And we deal with the complexity that is inherent to the business in a smart way.

“We achieve this by watching people work. And we vet their interaction paradigm. What tools do they use and prefer? And what troubles them with those tools?

“So collaboration and user-friendly design are paramount considerations. This is unexpected for those who see SAP as complicated. And we are genuinely uncompromising in this new focus. Analysts were amazed when they saw the demo.

“In a press roundtable after the Chicago preview, one of the more prominent and influential analysts was asked what the future of EPM looked like, and he said it looked pretty much like what we’d just seen in the keynote. Such affirmation shows me we’re on track.”

Creating a startup culture

“It’s vital to create this startup culture,” says Kazmaier, “and this ‘one team’ feeling…we instill it in development. We don’t operate as a separate unit. Instead, we pull in marketing, sales, and presales and make a strong connection to every other department. It’s the same engagement you’d have in a small company. We get familiar with all aspects of the value chain, forge strong relationships and create a tight network. This builds the trust and confidence essential in a winning team.

“Doubly important, you also have a competitive sense in engineering. If SAP loses a deal, we have lost against another development team. I believe that this is crucial for engineering excellence, as it keeps us focused. But you know, considering the support we’ve had, I have to say it’s easy to create something great when you’re standing on the shoulders of giants.”

More information

Top image: Shutterstock

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