During this recession period companies survive by tightening their belts and thrive by employing creative ways to improve business performance. Enterprise software plays a critical role in improving business performance by solving problems and accelerating innovation. However, the way companies procure IT solutions or for that matter the way software vendors sell software has not changed much over the last few decades. It simply takes too long to find and procure enterprise software defeating the very purpose of being able to leverage IT to rapidly realize value.
The journey to obtain enterprise software starts with identifying business problems or opportunities to accelerate innovation. The first step is to discover all the relevant options that are available. However, there is no structured way or comprehensive resource where companies turn to find enterprise-class IT solutions. Next, multi-disciplinary teams representing business users, IT, and procurement professionals, are formed to collect and further refine business requirements. These teams start to evaluate the solution by scheduling product demonstrations. Scheduling demos with multiple vendors and coordinating amongst team members can take weeks and months. Multiple iterations of demonstrations and countless hours later the teams shape their requirements into a request for proposal they circulate amongst the short listed vendors. Precious time elapses as vendors prepare their responses and compile references. Yet more time passes as proposals are evaluated. Months later a vendor is selected and negotiations begin. In the meanwhile the business problems the solution was meant to resolve have compounded and the innovative ideas that were meant to accelerate innovation may have become obsolete.
Through the deployment of the EcoHub (http://ecohub.sap.com), SAP helps companies find, obtain and deploy IT solutions faster thereby saving time, resources and costs. Let’s break down how the EcoHub is changing the way companies procure IT solutions.
SAP’s EcoHub is the comprehensive resource where SAP’s customers go to find IT solutions. The EcoHub lists 100s of solutions categorized by industry (25 industries) and type of solution (11 types of solution categories). What makes EcoHub a trusted destination is that all listed solutions either come from SAP or SAP’s partners. Further all the solutions listed on the EcoHub have been certified by SAP.
The EcoHub journey starts with visitors coming to discover solutions. There are various ways to find solutions on the EcoHub. Solutions can be located by industry relevance, type of solution or searching by key words that describe the solution.
Each solution has a dedicated presence on the EcoHub. Visitors start by gaining an overview of the key features of the solution. Rotating flash banners provide customer testimonials. Visitors gain deeper insights by reading the reviews and viewing the ratings offered by of those who may have experience with the solution.
Each solution page features a thumbnail screenshot of the solution, offering a glimpse of the user interface. The screenshot can be enlarged by clicking on the thumbnail. By clicking on the “details” tab, visitors are taken to a more detailed description of the solution and are able to find additional resources such as white papers and other collateral providing in-depth information about the solution. The “specifications” tab lists the type of certification earned by the solution and specifies the SAP software that is compatible with the solution.
Visitors are able to view on-line demonstrations by clicking the “demo” button (the most frequently used feature on the EcoHub). By clicking the “contact me” button visitors can request to be contacted by the publisher of the solution. To find out about pricing or request a price quote, visitors can click the “buy” button or be directed to an e-commerce procurement capability that allows them to buy online (to be available in the very near future for selected solutions).
Recognizing that IT procurement decisions are seldom made by a single person, the EcoHub provides multiple ways of sharing the findings of one individual with the rest of the evaluation team. Using the “share this” feature individuals are able to share their discoveries with their colleagues via e-mail, Digg, Technorati or Facebook to name a few of the web 2.0 collaboration capabilities offered through the EcoHub.
What makes the EcoHub experience remarkable and revolutionary is that the entire discovery and evaluation process takes minutes and hours not weeks and months. Within days teams are ready to engage with vendors and start to procure the solution.
By accelerating IT procurement, companies are able to rapidly solve their business problems or achieve competitive differentiation by accelerating innovation. The streamlined procurement process helps companies save valuable time and resources while significantly reducing their acquisition costs. This may be exactly what the doctor ordered during this recession period.