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    SAP looking at SMEs and mobile devices for next level of growth

    Synopsis

    Jonathan D Becher was at forefront of setting up the social media interface for SAP and today the SAP community network is 2.5 million strong.

    Jonathan D Becher has simplified technology. As chief marketing officer of euro 14.23 billion company SAP, Jonathan D Becher is the man behind the gradual transformation of an enterprise-only brand into a global-household name.

    Becher was at the forefront of setting up the social media interface for SAP, and today the SAP community network is 2.5-million strong in a little over a year of being setup.

    Social media, Becher says, is not new and has been around from the time of emails. Facebook and Twitter is just an extension of that, he says. Most people think social media is a cheap way to get the message out, but that is not the idea.

    "What we do is seed the market with some good ideas, test to see if it works, and if does not work try to listen to what people want, because that will tell you a lot. We are constantly testing messages and when we see a message resonate we do more of that. Things that don't resonate, we don't do," explains Becher.

    A firm believer in do-it-yourself philosophy, Becher manages a team 1,400 people across 55 countries.

    "I don't ask anyone to do anything unless I have tried it myself," says Becher. "So, if you haven't done it yourself, you don't really know what it is going to be like."

    Becher joined SAP in 2007, when Pilot Software, where he was president and chief executive officer, was bought by the former. Prior to his stint at Pilot Software, he was CEO and president of Accrue Software, a publically-traded website analytics company, and president, CEO, and co-founder of NeoVista Software, a pioneer in the predictive analytics and data mining markets.

    An active trekker who loves to visit the hills, Becher says "it helps me think better." Besides trekking, he likes to interact with consumers, channel partners, software developers and all the stakeholders crucial to SAP ecosystem.

    From being an enterprise-only brand, SAP is now slowly entering into the SME and mobile space. SAP's cloud offering- On Demand-is targeted at businesses who do not want to invest big in setting up an IT infrastructure.

    "So your hardware lives someplace, software lives someplace, and all you have is a user interface - which will mostly be a browser or it could also be a mobile device. The cost of ownership in this case goes dramatically down and you are up and running in just a few days, plus the return on investment is very fast and it's simple to run," explains Becher, adding that already 5 million people across the globe are using SAP On Demand.

    SAP's mobile offering is called Afaria, and Becher claims that it is the only device-agnostic mobile infrastructure available in the market. Called SUP, it is an unwired platform for which a company needs to write an application once and then it can be run on all different mobile platforms.

    "It works just as well on BlackBerry, as it does on a device running iOS or Android," explains Becher. Today 15,000 iPhones & iPads run on SAP, he says.

    JONATHAN D BECHER, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP

    CAREER TRAJECTORY SAP: 2009 onwards

    SAP Business Objects: 2007–2009

    Pilot Software: 2003–2007

    Accrue Software: 2000–2003

    NeoVista Software: 1996–2000

    MasPar Computer Corp: 1989-1996

    EDUCATION Duke University

    Masters in Computer Science

    University of Virginia

    Bachelors in Computer Engineering

    JONATHAN D BECHER, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP

    CAREER TRAJECTORY SAP: 2009 onwards

    SAP Business Objects: 2007–2009

    Pilot Software: 2003–2007

    Accrue Software: 2000–2003

    NeoVista Software: 1996–2000

    MasPar Computer Corp: 1989-1996

    EDUCATION Duke University

    Masters in Computer Science

    University of Virginia

    Bachelors in Computer Engineering

    IDOL Dave Packard, Hewlett Packard Dave Packard, Hewlett Packard

     


    So, will SAP ever be relevant to a normal user?

    "I wanna say Yes, but I don't wanna say 'Yes' in a way you are thinking. We are never going to be a consumer brand like a Coca-Cola, Pepsi or BMW, that's not who we are. However, if you are a business-oriented person, even if you just work in a business, we will have increasing relevance to you," says Becher.

    Historically, most SAP applications were targeted at people who worked on finance stuff or HR or supply chain, but over the last couple of years everybody who works inside a business uses SAP.

    SAP has also launched two end-user applications called Recall Plus and Charitra, which can be downloaded by individual customers directly from SAP on their respective mobile devices and used for $10 per month.

    Apart from product innovation, SAP is also changing the way it communicates to people. "So from saying that 'Tata runs SAP' or 'Porsche runs SAP', we are featuring people from within these companies and how their lives within these companies get better because of SAP," explains Becher.

    Advertising for SAP will now showcase more human and pricing stories. Becher has also challenged his employees to come up with a line about "What SAP means to you?" This will then be turned into a viral word-of-mouth thing, that will be run as a competition and the best stories of SAP will be rewarded. "The brand promise is essentially migrating from 'The best companies in the world run SAP to the world runs better with SAP'," summarises Becher.

    We quiz Becher about his marketing idol, and though he admits he has immense respect for Steve Jobs and Apple, he is not his idol. Why, we exclaim! Becher has many friends at Apple who tell him informally that "we wish we were like you." And why is that so?

    "Apple wants to be like SAP, because we have long relationships with customers, whereas Apple's relationship with its users last maximum a year. If they don't come out with a hot new product every year or six months, the relationship is over. But when we get a customer, he stays with us almost for his entire life. And Apple wish they could figure out how to do that," laughs Becher.

    Becher idolises Dave Packard of Hewlett Packard who, he says, made maximum impact on his thinking. Packard invented the idea of 'Manage By Walking Around', also the name of Becher's blog.

    "Packard's basic premise of everything he did was if it's not adding value to the customer, stop! In most companies, an extraordinary percentage of what they do, does not add value for a customer. So part of the way I look about marketing is that if it's not adding value to the customer, then stop," concludes Becher.

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    1 Comment on this Story

    Chinmay Patra3159 days ago
    This is great. I represent NIIT Technologies in India. We have also developed an application in SAP we call it MKonnect, in which we access SAP through Mobile. It gives lot of flexibility to user - Chinmay Patra Mobile Nos: 91-9820097481
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