I have always found that a great way to prepare for a day of listening to sales presentations is to go for a run. So here I am in Las Vegas at SAP’s Sales Kickoff event and I start my first day, just as the sun rises, running through the jungle of casino resorts. About half way through my run, on a quiet side street with no traffic, I smash right into a fire hydrant!
OK. It was painted red instead of the usual yellow but it was not exactly small. It was a nasty collision and I took a layer of skin off my right quad and a bruise the size and shape of a baseball emerged. I hobbled back to my hotel and asked for a first aid kit. I was directed to security where the officer on duty quizzed me about my age pointing out that he was 75 years-old and had never collided with a fire hydrant in his entire life!
The truth was that I was not in my body at the time. I was looking and thinking ahead and, in doing so, did not see the hydrant.
My leg throbbed throughout the opening keynote presentations at the SAP Sales kickoff but I still found the content interesting. A collection of SAP executives painted the picture ahead for the coming year. They started with HANA as usual and then Cloud and then Mobile. They spoke about these three combined technologies as the growth path forward for both SAP’s business applications and their customers.
What was so interesting to me was what they did not talk about. There was almost no mention of Analytics or database technologies and not a single speaker mentioned the word BusinessObjects. While these missing items contributed a big part of SAP’s business in 2012, they appear to be less significant for the company’s future growth direction.
While new innovative technologies are driving and changing the way we operate and interact, new software solutions still take a while to become stable and effective in most businesses. At the same time it is important to both promote and sell innovation. The trick is to find the right balance by emphasizing the solutions that you have already sold to your customers at the same time as their future evolution.
Another key point brought out by several of the keynote speakers is that SAP will focus on selling solutions rather than products. Great idea! This will require retraining much of the sales force but it is a good investment in their future.
It is wise not to look too far ahead at the cost of missing what is already in place and solid like your existing analytics customers or even a fire hydrant!