V3.co.uk: I've heard some good feedback about you making SAP
UK a lot more customer rather than sales focused. Was this a deliberate
Tim Noble: I don't think it was a deliberate strategy, no. One of the reasons I joined SAP is that SAP from afar seemed very customer focused. I am pleased that this is what people think. I think it is essential to be close to your customers. At the moment, whether they are existing or new customers of SAP, we are all going through an enormous time of business change. At one point, it was more simple to do business with our customers than it is now. In order to be successful, you have to understand your customers' needs and wants. All businesses are having to change the way they operate.
What are your main priorities for customers at the moment?
This whole strategy we have discussed today is about clarity and allowing customers to better understand their clients and their data so that they know what to do with it. That would be one of my key priorities. I used to run a business, and to help me I needed access to data. My key priority now is to allow SAP customers to have access to their data.
A lot of discussion at SAP World Tour seems to have focused on the
importance of collaborative solutions. What will you do to expand the ways in
which customers can collaborate using business software?
I don't know whether we are or not. I'm not really in the place to discuss SAP's plans in terms of future product development. But if we are talking about collaboration within the market, I want to do more about communicating externally.
How many UK SAP customers would you say are ready for
Customers want to flatten out their investments with SAP because it is difficult when you get peaks and troughs. What I am learning is that different clients want to consume SAP in different ways, so whether it's renting the software or software-as-a-service we are committed to providing customers with access to our software in different ways. We have a hybrid approach that means customers big or small can use the software in different applications and then consume it any way they want.
What are the three main things you have learned since becoming SAP UK
We need to continue to work closely with the customer. I really enjoyed today as it has given me a chance to meet a lot of customers. Secondly, people from the press say that the overriding sentiment is that people are supportive of SAP. They might say that to me because I am the new MD, but the impression is that everyone is supportive because we are trying to help them run their businesses more efficiently. That is what we are trying to do.
What is your key message to customers?
As I said when I kicked this off today, we are in a changing and uncertain economic environment so the only way to lead organisations is through the concept of clarity. We can help our customers with the tools and technologies to provide them with the clarity. I ran a business before and that is exactly what you need: a clear view. I think this is exactly what our technology delivers.
Are you aware of how much bad feeling still exists among customers
about support fee hikes?
I don't know how to answer this. I was not here when the support fees were increased. But I am aware of it, and it has been discussed internally by SAP. The question I would respond back is that I know how much bad feeling it caused when it happened, but has SAP done its best to reinforce and give confidence back to customers that we are doing the best thing? I do know that SAP has done an awful lot since to change the situation. So yes, I am aware of it.
What is your growth strategy for the next five years in the
On the one hand, with our existing clients and larger clients, we have an enormous market opportunity to increase the footprint of SAP within those organisations. The acquisition of Business Objects is a fantastic example of that. Second is the SME market. What I have learned and witnessed is that we have some very clear and concise off-the-shelf packages that we will power and run and make more efficient in the SME space, which is a massively growing market.
How is SAP responding to Oracle stealing customers, and the threat
that SAP faces from more nimble and specialist providers?
I am not aware of them stealing customers. Maybe no one has told me but I'm not aware of it. Second, the wonderful thing about every industry is that there are smaller niche players who no doubt have great products and great services, and we will respond to this accordingly.
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