More than ever companies are looking at ways to optimize their operations to increase productivity while reducing costs. The silver lining for enterprise software vendors is that companies will turn to IT to automate processes, accelerate operations, gain greater visibility and connect with their business networks at a lower cost. IT departments in these companies are looking at lowering their costs by consolidating their IT platforms. Fortunately SAP and its partners, offering vast coverage of enterprise processes, are poised to capitalize on this opportunity. However, there are adjustments that need to be made to how we go to market with our solutions. The long delays and high costs of discovering, evaluating and acquiring software are unacceptable in this new paradigm.
SAP’s EcoHub (http://ecohub.sap.com), hopes to resolve this problem by providing a single destination for SAP customers to be able to rapidly discover, evaluate and buy software that complements their SAP investments. In its short life, SAP’s EcoHub (launched mid-October 2008) is already proving to be the IT procurement platform companies are using to find solutions that complement their SAP investments. Here are some amazing facts about SAP’s EcoHub:
· Thousands of individuals from around the globe visit SAP’s EcoHub weekly with the explicit intent of finding IT solutions that help them either solve their existing business problems, improve performance, drive agility or accelerate innovation to achieve competitive differentiation.
· Visitors to SAP’s EcoHub represent all types and sizes of businesses including leading blue chip companies, federal, state and municipal government agencies, IT consultancies, as well as emerging businesses.
· They represent a vast spectrum of industries. Hundreds of solutions supporting over 25 industries can be found on the EcoHub.
· Visitors to the EcoHub represent multiple roles. The vast majority implements or manages IT and play an important role in influencing the decision to select the IT solutions their companies acquire.
· Thousands of visitors from over 60 countries have viewed demos of the solutions listed on SAP’s EcoHub. A large percentage has requested to be contacted for follow up engagement.
· Since my last blog entry in December 2008, visitors can now procure some of the solutions directly on-line and there are on-demand solutions available.
· Visitors are reviewing and rating their experience with the solutions on a daily basis, enriching the content with their personal experiences making it easier for future visitors to evaluate these solutions.
· Individuals from one company are sharing and collaborating on evaluating the solutions through the “share this” feature.
· Partners have successfully launched demand generation campaigns through SAP’s EcoHub and generated hundreds of contacts and leads.
What makes the SAP 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 to start the procurement process.
In summary SAP’s EcoHub is a global platform, with an IT and business-centric audience. SAP invests to raise awareness of the EcoHub amongst its customers, SAP communities (such as SDN (www.sdn.sap.com) and BPX (www.bpx.sap.com)) with millions of active users, SAP’s sales force and our industry go-to market teams.
Establish Your Presence on the SAP Ecohub to Win in the New Reality
As an SAP partner here is what you should be doing to capitalize on the EcoHub opportunity:
1. Develop customer value focused content
SAP’s EcoHub is an on-line solution marketplace visited by tens of thousands of visitors per week from all over the world. It is your responsibility to represent your solution in the best manner possible. Highlight the value of your solution. Complement the content by uploading screenshots that best represent your solution’s user experience.
2. Provide on-line solution demos
The number one most frequently used feature of the EcoHub is the on-line demo feature. Demos play a key role in helping prospects and evaluators form an opinion. Provide a short and sweet on-line demo that explains what your solution can do and taste of the overall user experience. 80% of all contacts through the EcoHub start with visitors viewing on-line demos
3. Provide customer success stories and testimonials
Peer influence is a key factor in helping individuals form an opinion about IT solutions. Provide customer success stories highlighting testimonials about the business value your solution delivered.
4. Invite customers to write reviews
People want to know who has used your solution and what they have to say about their experience. Complement customer success stories by getting your customers to visit the EcoHub and write brief reviews of their experience with your solutions and their engagement with your company.
5. Proactively drive traffic to your solution listing on the EcoHub
Whereas SAP is constantly investing in raising awareness about the EcoHub amongst its customers and sales force don’t just rely on visitors accidentally discovering your solutions. Your presence on the EcoHub establishes credibility that your solution complements SAP. Run demand generation campaigns i.e. webinars, and e-mail blast targeting SAP customers to drive traffic to your solution listing on the EcoHub.
6. Sponsor your solution on the EcoHub
Thousands of visitors are already perusing the EcoHub seeking solutions. SAP EcoHub offers attractive advertising packages to highlight your solution on the home page and key industry search result pages. Carve out your marketing budgets to advertise on this exclusive channel. To find out more email: EcoHub_partners@sap.com.
7. Leverage community conversations to drive traffic
If you are participating in on-line communities and forums draw traffic by linking directly to your solution listing on the EcoHub. Participate in SAP’s (www.bpx.sap.com) and drive traffic from industry specific conversations.
8. Dedicate sales resource to respond in a timely manner
Be prepared to respond in a timely manner to the queries coming from the EcoHub. Doing business on the web means rapid response.
9. Link your corporate site with your EcoHub listing
Create RSS feeds from your corporate web site to your listing on the EcoHub. Provide frequent updates on news about your company to your EcoHub listings page in the left hand grey column. To find out more email: EcoHub_partners@sap.com
10. Key words that best describe your solution
A significant portion of the EcoHub visitors may discover your solution by searching by key terms that describe their needs. Establish key words that best describe your solution. Be focused and don’t over do it.
Leveraging SAP’s EcoHub to reach a broader and IT-centric audience to accelerate sales cycles and lower cost of sales may make the difference in winning in the new economic realty.