As with many companies in the fields of business and technology, 2010 was a successful year for SAP, the world’s largest business software company.
With tremendous growth and increased revenue streams, Rob Enslin, SAP Global Sales’ president, attributes much of it to SAP’s transformation in response to consumers.
“What customers want now is choice ... in terms of the speed at which they can implement, speed at which they can get solutions to their problems,” says Enslin, who was promoted from president of SAP North America to the global sales role in January.
With a new market model, the company has an inside sales organization in addition to its direct sales force, incorporating an original equipment manufacturer business, a distribution business and an e-store platform.
Smart Business sat down with Enslin to discuss changes in the IT marketplace as more companies begin to implement more holistic solutions.
Q: How have buyer patterns driven your change?
I think the financial crisis has elevated that change. We’ve had to adapt to a customer buying pattern that is significantly different than it was at the beginning of 2008. I think customers affected that because they’ve had to make decisions at types of speed that they’ve never had to before. The focus around analyzing, reanalyzing then getting consensus over an extended period of time isn’t there anymore. At the end of the day, customers now have a very short time frame to make a decision. ... (They) don’t have the ability to analyze this down to the nth degree, because what will happen is (their) competition will come in and scoop it up in front of (them). Those that are doing that, (heavily analyzing), they are going to be left behind. We’ve had to adjust to that kind of model.
Q: So what has this done to the small and medium-sized enterprise marketplace?
If you want to survive or thrive or be a company that’s at the forefront of the industry, you’re going to have to be aggressive about how you want to grow your company. You don’t want to become a target of another company’s growth strategy.
The speed at which you are making decisions right now means a lot of companies will go. The first choice would be to acquire, because you can grow with acquisition and then you’ve got synergies that you can drive out of acquisition. That’s a very easy play to do.
It’s a lot harder to grow organically, so if you’re a SME customer that’s public and traded, you better be fleet-footed and really fast. If you are private, it’s a slightly different discussion. You are probably a little more focused on margin and profit, turning cash back into the business, than you are pure growth agendas. But I think it’s a combination of both.
Q: SAP has changed up its product mix to better meet customer demands. One is the energy management solution. Can you explain how that came to be?
All manufacturing companies over the next years, whether you’re in the United States or elsewhere, are going to start figuring out how to manage the energy efficiency of (their) facilities and plants. Everything about it, we’re going to have to manage it. We think that businesses can save significant amounts of (money on) costs, bring down the costs, if they are able to understand where there are wastes happening.
Energy is sometimes 40 or 50 percent of the cost structure (of a company), and then the next one is people. If you can think about 10, 15, 20 percent savings, simply because you are managing it better that (would be) a huge business turnaround. What do you really get out of energy? Not a lot. It just runs your factories, runs your plants, and you can abuse it.
If you take some of the costs out, you can put it in competitive areas where you can actually draw significant improvements. I think that as the world gets more and more regulated, one of the regulated places, unfortunately, is going to be the energy space. We’ve got a platinum LEED building in Uptown Square (confirm). Let’s be honest, we have a responsibility to help the world run better. We keep using that as a vision tag, and if that’s a vision tag, what are we actually doing to make it run differently?
Q: How can a strategic IT investment move companies from a cost center to a revenue center?
I think the IT leaders that get it are the ones that are focused around ... solving business problems in a short time frame. You can’t turn around to your business and say, ‘Oh, we know that sales pipeline and for-cash thing is important, but it’s a two-year project at our company.’ Those people are lost, because you can’t wait two years to have the answers to that particular question that you’ve just put there.
This is why CRM or ERS, for instance, is so important, because we can now help the CIO spend eight weeks on a solution and give a turnaround to the businesspeople. And that will turn IT back into strategic investments for a company, when those CIOs can actually help the business leaders solve their problems in an innovative, short time frame.
How to reach: SAP, www.sap.com.
Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein / Story by Jessica Hanna