At SAP SAPPHIRE (SAP’s biggest user conference, May 14–16), SAP announced that it has deployed more than 1,400 instances of Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) at more than 1,000 unique customers. These solutions help customers deploy SAP modules in as short as a few weeks at a reduced price point by productizing typical configurations. SAP boasts cost savings typically in the 20% to 40% range versus similar deployments that do not utilize RDS.
SAP has more than 70 of these solutions currently available. Additional solutions are available through partners like Accenture and TCS. RDS solutions are available in a wide range of areas like CRM, Sourcing, Financials, and even SAP HANA.
SAP positions these solutions as “lego-like,” meaning that customers can build one on top of the other and can customize and extend as much or as little as they want.
Our take? These RDS solutions are a great way for companies to quickly realize value out of SAP, an issue which has long plagued the SAP community. Even clients who need to go far beyond what an RDS offers and create a much more customized deployment might be able to jump-start their project with an RDS. However, these offerings are not available in all horizontal or vertical areas. SAP customers who want a complete solution heavily tailored for their industry-specific needs will likely need to turn to SAP’s ecosystem of pre-built solutions, rather than lighter-weight RDS offerings.
Innovation is again the hot topic for clients, as it was before the economic downturn. Clients have a renewed interest in innovation and business growth, and they seek services partners who can help. But what is innovation in this context?
In this context, clients seek business innovation. They want a provider who delivers new ideas and insights that will change business processes to drive revenue or improve business processes (for example, through product innovation, customer process innovation, supply chain innovation). They do not mean delivery innovation or continuous improvement, where the provider improves service delivery efficiency to drive lower IT cost and/or higher quality of IT service to clients (for example, through improved delivery processes, shared services, reusable assets). (Of course, they usually do want this as well — but this will not necessarily drive business innovation such as new products and processes.)
What do leading firms do to drive ongoing business innovation from services providers?
1) Put process around innovation. Organizations who successfully get innovation from their services providers put processes in place, from idea discovery to incubation to implementation to measurement. They also select services providers who have codified the innovation process. Ongoing innovation cannot happen by accident.
2) Use social media to collaborate at fast paces with customers, partners, and employees. Tools such as social networking sites, microblogs, and collaboration sites let firms gather ideas, evolve ideas, and rank ideas with a wide audience.