Video: CEO Mariyah Saifuddin talks tech with SAP VP Nichole Smith

In live webcast, they discuss SAP's seismic transformation from product-focused to customer lifetime value

Innovative Solution Partners CEO and Co-Founder Mariyah Saifuddin spent time recently talking with Nichole Smith, an industry vice president at SAP, about what both called the biggest evolution and transformation in SAP’s 51-year history. The discussion took place as part of the “Women in Tech” live webcast.

Much of the discussion centered on this seismic shift for SAP, from being mainly a product-based company to a customer service-based company focused more on lifetime customer value. In talking through this shift from both the SAP and the SAP partner perspective, Smith and Saifuddin discussed the changes necessary on both sides to ensure customers — looking for quicker turnarounds from a nimble company — get what they need in these technology-driven times for business.

Part of that clearer laser focus on customers, Smith said, includes SAP “getting out” of the data center business. “If you look at the market now, there’s no way that SAP can compete with the Amazons and the Googles and the Microsofts of the world,” Smith said. “We realized we need to take more of a partnership approach with them.”

At about the 24:00 mark in the video, Saifuddin added: 

“I think this whole new evolution in thinking and change is only a natural fit. I think from a partner perspective, it’s really about looking at that end goal. 

“It’s like when we want to go from point A to point B, we put in our destination to Google Maps, you got five different ways you want to get there, whether it’s if you’ve got the time, if you’ve got the money, if you have enough gas, there’s options.”

Both Smith and Saifuddin agreed that having an ongoing dialogue and relationship between them provides communication that is valuable for both sides — and for customers. In addition, SAP Women in Tech is not just geared toward engineers and programmers, but is inclusive of all women who work at SAP. 

Saifuddin emphasized that everyone has a role to play. For Innovative Solution Partners, that is from an SAP partner role. 

“I’m looking (as) a business owner into SAP,” Saifuddin said. “SAP is huge. And for us to have the ability to have a connection with someone who can help me figure out the next step. 

“It doesn’t mean that you’ve got the answers, but the ability to connect me to somebody who could help me or a resource, because we all know you go into a portal and it’s like you can go down a rabbit hole and still not find what you need.”

When it came to discussing best practices, Smith pointed out that customer centricity is top of her list. Also important, she said, is setting clear expectations and going “above and beyond.”

Saifuddin said for her it’s important to build your brand and set the table when you walk in the room. “I always tell people that what my role is in my business so that they understand who I am,” Saifuddin said. “Otherwise, they’re going to make the story up about who I am and what my role is.”

Saifuddin added that the SAP transformation is natural for her own company because Innovative Solution Partners always has focused on customers first, with its FOCUS methodology and its mission to connect the dots between people, operations and technology.

Saifuddin wrapped up saying: 

“The success is going to come from all of us doing things maybe a little differently, having communications in a different way. But the bigger piece of this is going to be how can we all share this same message … that this is all about customers understanding the value they’re going to get from SAP — not just today, but long term, and that we’re really being responsive to the market rather than this is how it’s always been done and this is how we’re going to continue to do it.”

More about SAP Women in Tech

To learn more about SAP’s Women in Tech, including profiles of women at SAP and upcoming events, go to the SAP Women in Tech home page, where you can join the community or just learn more.

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