Saying Goodbye After Eight Amazing Years at SAP

Finish-Start
[SOURCE: Andrew Hurley © 2011, used according to Creative Commons License]
“It feels right. But it’s emotional. Saying goodbye to anything you’ve done that long is hard.” –Angela Ruggiero

 


There is no better music for a reminiscent mood to than RUSH “Time Stand Still”

With a mix of sadness and excitement, I say goodbye to my colleagues at SAP this week after more than eight amazing years. Its no easy task to write a succinct goodbye blog with so much to reflect upon. So I will just focus on saying thanks to the incredible teams, customers, and partners I’ve had the honor to work with. While I name many people in this blog, there’s no way I can name everyone that deserves a thank you. So please contact me later and I’m more than happy to reminisce with you and thank you privately.

SAP is a company like no other. Between the amazing breadth of applications and technologies it’s developed and acquired over the years and the close strategic relationships it’s fostered with many of the world’s most successful brands, SAP well deserves the success it’s earned.

My time at SAP coincides with its transformation from traditional ERP vendor into a cloud services company. During that time I had a chance to hone my marketing skills by working with the world class marketing teams under CMOs Marty Homlish and Jonathan Becher.

I think of my time at SAP in four distinct epochs:

1. Helping SAP get saas-y by bringing SAP Business ByDesign to market
2. Guerrilla marketing for SAP Business Process Management
3. Going back to the cloud
4. Being assimilated by SAP HANA

Helping SAP Get SaaS-y with SAP Business ByDesign

 

badge
[SOURCE: © 2014 Greg Chase]
I still have my original photo badge from when I first joined SAP eight years ago.

I joined SAP to bring their first major SaaS offering to the market. We affectionately called it A1-shhh after it’s super-secret code name.

Previously I had been a small company guy.  So the huge glitzy New York launch of SAP Business ByDesign was by far the largest I had ever coordinated. I got a crash course in organization-wide communication and planning. I’m very proud of the work I accomplished with my team: creating a significant portion of the customer facing content in support of the launch.

I had the privilege to work with some amazingly talented folks, many of whom have moved on to impressive positions with other companies. I especially want to thank Chris Horak, who hired me into SAP and has become my mentor and friend through my many years here at SAP.

lego
[SOURCE: © 2007 Greg Chase]
During the first two years at SAP, my colleague Sophie Chou and I coached a winning FIRST Lego League team at a local junior high school – with the robots donated by SAP.

The unveiling of SAP Business ByDesign began SAP’s first serious foray into the cloud computing market. I wish I could say that the product had been ready for prime time, but it was realized that more development was needed before scaling this line of business.  Thus I joined the SAP NetWeaver marketing team and became the…

Guerrilla Marketer for Business Process Management

Some of the most fun I’ve had at SAP are the years when I was marketing SAP NetWeaver BPM that sits on top of SAP’s traditional on-premise middleware stack.

Here we were helping customers develop custom applications integrated to their SAP ERP systems according to the emerging management practice of “Business Process Management”. The topic is a wonderful mix of programming with clear measurement of business goals and value creation.

Unlike the strategic launch of ByDesign, the business of BPM was a small niche business aimed at the existing install base. So this meant a lot of guerrilla marketing was required to find customers since deal sizes were too small to get the attention of a sales force that was focused on driving big ticket application deals.

Innovation
[SOURCE: © 2010 Marilynn Pratt, used with permission]
Hackathons and other kinds of hands-on events were how we helped generate awareness for the technical tools I helped market at SAP.  

We had to create our own sales channels, so we focused on working with smaller boutique partners of SAP. Here is where I met some amazing individuals and their companies: Owen Pettiford of CompriseIT, John Appleby with Bluefin, Liladhar Bagad previously with Intelligroup, Darwin Deano and the many bright people who came over from BearingPoint to join Deloitte, Twan van den Broek at that time with Ciber, Caspar Laar of NL for Business, and Tamas Szirtes of Intenzz. This this is also when I began collaborating with the impressive Ann Rosenberg, then global head of BPM Consulting at SAP, and together we put out the book Applying Real World BPM in an SAP Environment along with my teammate Rukshaan Omar.

3134_applying_real_world_bpm_lg__88073_zoom
[SOURCE: © SAP Press]
Co-authoring a book was an amazing experience. While it may seem very 20th century, it allowed us to capture real stories from customers and practitioners who otherwise would prefer not to participate in marketing projects.

In building this ecosystem, I became immersed in the SAP customer community through ASUG and the SAP Community Network. Special thanks are due to of Mark Finnern, Marilyn Pratt, and Craig Cmehil, for their amazing community building skills. I’d like to also thank the many volunteers from SAP customers who passionately dedicate time through ASUG to improve the work of their fellow practioners at other SAP customers. Any company would be blessed to have a customer organization such as ASUG in their ecosystem.

BPM implementations by their nature are very integration heavy, and it doesn’t take long before you have to be concerned with data quality issues in the systems to which you are integrating. In fact, many typical projects involved creating business processes for improve data quality, and such as trying to automate one of the more unpleasant jobs in the IT department at the time: the data steward.

This use case put me in frequent coordination with the Enterprise Information Management team, which at the time was selling some interesting components inherited from Business Objects. This extremely talented team has become the core of the Big Data team that now is focused on the intersection of SAP HANA, Hadoop, and Data Science. I will miss working with all of you!

Back to The Cloud

When the ByDesign team was reconstituted to drive its re-launch in the market, I jumped at the chance to come back.  This time, not only was the product further along, but we were going to rapidly expand the portfolio to provide large enterprise departmental solutions.

I have great respect for the extremely experienced team I was privileged to work with. Together we accomplished some amazing work in terms of establishing credibility of SAP in the cloud market, and bringing to market a vast portfolio of offerings ranging from a mix of applications to a platform as a service and a virtualization management technology. Again, special thanks are due to some wonderful partners and customers I got to work with: Leonardo De Araujo of Beyond Technologies, Sina Moatamed, then CIO of early ByDesign customer BendPak, Andreas Eissmann of Data One, and Judson Wickham, previously with early ByDesign customer PinkBerry and now a fellow colleague at SAP.

If you want to get a taste of some of the fun I had working with these people, check out this replay of SAP Radio where Judson and I argue over Shadow IT.  Incidentally, I should mention that SAP Radio is the work of my colleague Bonnie Graham who has managed to merge her passion with her job, and does a bang up job as the on air radio personality for SAP.

sapradio

I’m utterly failing in keeping this blog short as I stumble across more memories I wish to record. One employee community project I am proud of being part of around this time is the creation of SAP’s “It Gets Better Video.” This project was organized by SAP’s LGBT employee group, and driven by the indomitable Moya Watson.


SAP’s “It Gets Better Video” where SAP Employees take a stand against bullying

SAP was determined to succeed in the cloud, and thus acquired SuccessFactors and Ariba around this time. These acquisitions have been very successful in terms of expanding top line cloud revenue and expanding the portfolio. It also led to some organizational complexity with the addition and eventual departure of Lars Dalgaard on the SAP management board. In the process of the reorganization I was…

Assimilated by HANA

After the reorganization of the cloud business, I joined the SAP HANA marketing team with the goal of marketing new cloud services based on SAP HANA – first available on AWS, and later through SAP. Resistance was futile.

The growth of the SAP HANA business within SAP is great study in business transformation. In this case, the team started out with instructions to act like a startup within SAP: break glass where necessary, innovate new ways to market, disrupt the old business.

This team has achieved remarkable results:

  • Created a new market category for in-memory databases
  • Became the market-leading product against which database competitors, new and old had to position against
  • Created the fastest growing product in SAP history, reaching to nearly $1B annual revenue in just three years on the market
  • Grown a startup accelerator ecosystem with over 1000 startups basing their applications on SAP HANA

It has been an honor to work with this team and help drive a huge increase in adoption of SAP HANA by making it easier for customers and consultants to get their hands instances in the cloud through SAP HANA One, and to help drive customer innovation projects on SAP HANA with novel approaches like crowd sourcing.


Innovating new ways to market SAP HANA such as through crowd sourcing.

So thanks to all the wonderful people at SAP and SAP’s customers and partners. There is no way I can name you all, but I appreciate all the fun and enjoyment you brought to my work.  We should all be proud of what we achieved together.

Comments

  1. Les Hayman says:

    I know how you feel … I found it hard to retire in 2006. There is life after SAP.
    Best for whatever the fates throw at you.

  2. greg misiorek says:

    Hi Greg,

    sorry about seeing you leave SAP and it’s their loss for sure. we’ve never met, but exchanged a tweet or two. yours was one of the best marketing I’ve experienced. good luck with your next assignment.

    rgds,

    greg

    • Aww thanks Greg. I enjoyed our interactions, and no doubt more to come soon!

      But just have to check – did you actually buy anything from SAP as a result of my tweets? That is the ultimate measure of “best marketing” ;-)

  3. Schalk viljoen says:

    we will miss you Greg! was fun working with you … and the world is small! All the best

    • Schalk: you are my dear friend, and you saved my arse during that blizzard in my first visit to Germany. :) I hope we get to work together again!

  4. Greg, It was my pleasure to work with you on various projects, Wishing you the best and hope you will stay in touch!

  5. Twan van den Broek says:

    Very honoured to be mentioned by you Greg. Still remember the early days of BPM and CE and you interviewing early adaptors at SAP TechEd. Also very proud that you have asked Richard Hirsch and me to write a chapter in your BPM book.
    BPM a great concept and initially got a lot of attention but nowadays lost in all the HANA, mobile and cloud stories.

    So long Greg, thanks for great collaboration and good luck in your new future!
    Twan

    • Hi Twan, I very much admire your work with our fellow customers. And I’m still a huge fan of BPM – the methodology. I still try to use it in other kinds of implementations. It’s mostly applicable :)

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