There was no wavering from the theme for Saphila 2019, during the welcome and keynote addresses – the intelligent enterprise and how to be one is the topic up for scrutiny and debate at this year’s event. Saphila 2019 is the African SAP User Group’s (AFSUG) biennial conference for SAP users, currently taking place at Sun City on 10 and 11 June 2019.
Reg Barry, chairman of AFSUG and Cathy Smith, managing director of SAP Africa, both brought a determined focus to what they believe will be driving success for the company going forward, namely, customer experience within the context of the digital revolution, and the move towards the intelligent enterprise.
Saphila, for the first time, exceeded the 1,000 delegate mark, underpinning SAP’s strong market presence within the continent.
“This year, we are talking about intelligent enterprise, but the foundation thereof lies in understanding that experience matters,” said Barry. “It’s about customer experience, user experience and employee experience, and it’s about using the technology we have at our fingertips to engage and enhance the experience of the people and industries we serve.”
Barry used the Saphila 2019 app as an example, which is deploying beacon technology not only to help exhibitors and partners track delegate movements and interest levels on stand, but also to ensure attendees are constantly aware of talks and seminars as well as interesting attractions taking place within the exhibition hall – in real time.
In her talk, SAP’s Smith said that, as people living in an experience economy, the intelligent enterprise is what connects all business processes in service of this new economy.
“There is often a disparity between how you think customers feel about your products and services and how they actually do feel,” stated Smith. “Operational data (O) – like costs, revenues, and sales – show what is happening in your business. But you also need experience data (X) to understand the feelings of the people involved and why things are happening.”
Smith explained that studies have shown human beings can experience up to 26 different emotions at any given time, which is why taking these experiences into account is so vital to helping customers build capacity to thrive in the new era of a best-run business.
An exciting time, she added, and SAP’s strategy has never been clearer.
“We’ve mapped out our way forward based on what we believe the future holds,” she said. “It’s not about us anymore, it’s about our partnerships, it’s about working with our customers and it’s about doing this journey to a truly experiential economy together.”
Andreas Heckmann, EVP and Head of Customer Success Services at SAP, took to the stage next and mirrored Smith’s focus on the experience economy from a SAP customer perspective. He says his team has evolved from a ‘support team’ to a ‘customer success’ team at a rapid rate over the past two years, and it’s not looking to slow down any time soon.
“Our North Star lies in helping customers become intelligent enterprises and this has become a bit more complicated in a post-digital era in that we have to blend now,” he said. “It’s not just about technology – or what our technology can do for our customers – it’s more about how we, as SAP, and specifically the Customer Success team, can also become an intelligent enterprise in an experience economy.”
One way Heckmann and his team are doing this is by using SAP Leonardo Machine Learning capabilities and sophisticated intent-matching features, the built-in functionality analyses support requests from SAP customers through its AI chat features.
“It’s called Live Expert Chat, but only 14 per cent of South African customers are using this functionality, with the balance still choosing to send tickets. When I tell you that the average time it takes for tickets to close is 6.5 days compared to an average time of 32 minutes (with 67 per cent of each Live Chat being resolved in one session) using Live Expert Chat you’ll see that I’m not being overly optimistic when I say we envision this percentage (and the embrace of AI to enhance user experiences) will rise very soon.”
With Leonardo and other innovations right at their fingertips, the SAP Customer Success Services team keep their focus zoned in on how to make support intelligent.
“We have big goals in this department, including the use of data captured and used to enable our systems to be way more proactive and this will take us away towards being a next-generation support team,” he added. “Our goals, going forward, will include the cementing of Live Expert Chat as the only means to log support tickets and, using Leonardo, real-time recommendations based on search terms or previous experiences.”
The team’s ambitions are great; the real game changers are coming this year, said Heckmann.
2019 will see AI support being stepped up to a new level – no longer will customers have to reach out when they need help. Instead, the Support Services team will be using data and AI to predict questions customers will ask and even address potential problem areas before they are even aware of them – this pertains especially for customers in the cloud.
“Also, for customers already following the vision, a bold move from SAP was the introduction of cloud-based Application Lifecycle Management, which is ready for immediate consumption and fits each customer’s specific solution preferences and business needs.”