Where the rubber hits the road for Sales 2.0 – Blogging for ComputerWorld

November 9, 2010 Appirio

Ryan Nichols

SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, and the other legacy CRM gorillas shared their vision for Sales 2.0 with the world yesterday, at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.  My beef?  We’re talking about all the right ideas, built on exactly the wrong technology.

SAP is a great example.  Chris Ball (who runs SAP’s western sales region) and Jonathan Becher (who runs SAP’s product marketing) absolutely “get” Sales 2.0– they were up on stage at the conference talking about how their customers are more concerned about transforming their business in these turbulent times than they are about the ERP expertise that has gotten SAP to where it is today.  They know that they need to help their clients become customer-centric rather than product-centric (and move in that direction themselves as a company).
Yet during the Q&A, one SAP customer in the audience summed up the experience of many: “It’s been a disaster,” she said of their SAP implementation.
The root cause is a classic catch 22 with on-premise technology.  This customer was encouraged to use SAP out of the box– which is generally good advice, as anyone who has tried to upgrade a modified SAP system will tell you.  But that required them to make needless changes to their business processes to fit the vanilla software… and then perform an upgrade less than a year later in order to get missing required features.
Here’s the core issue: technology optimized for change is fundamentally different than technology optimized for the seldom-changing core.
This is borne out in the market: “I have customers who are going to Workday for HR, to Salesforce.com for SFA,” said SAP’s Chris Ball.  “They’re still an SAP customer, and will be for a long time, but they’re eroding me at the edges.”

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