Today IBM and SAP jointly announced “plans across both companies to drive the modernisation of clients’ systems and processes and accelerate them into the digital economy”. What does that mean?
The IBM and SAP Partnership for Digital Transformation is a new marketing initiative from the two mega-vendors (which of course are already engaged in a huge strategic alliance) aimed at showcasing their joint strategic technologies and capabilities to joint clients, and encouraging them to invest by highlighting the art of the possible with regard to digital technologies. We’re talking here about SAP’s S/4HANA, along with Hybris, SuccessFactors, Ariba and Concur; together with Watson-based solutions from IBM, the results of IBM’s collaboration with Apple around enterprise mobile applications, IBM’s Digital agencies, and assets from The Weather Company and IBM’s partnerships with the likes of Facebook.
Importantly, the partnership is enabled by a cross-functional (and cross-company) team encompassing not only marketing and pre-sales people; but also a variety of IBM and SAP expert software developers, consultants, user experience (UX) and infrastructure specialists. So even though this is basically a marketing initiative, this team has been assembled to show, not tell, customers how they can embrace new digital technologies.
This approach is crucial because IBM and SAP together are going to try to encourage large organisations to embark on big initiatives that will likely cost tens of millions of dollars. If you’re going to put that amount of money on the table you need to be able to see real technologies doing real things that make a difference to your business; not just brochures and slideware.
Initially the team is pretty small – in the region of 40 people – and customers will engage with the team at a handful of client centres around the world (with the two main locations being in Palo Alto US, and Walldorf Germany). If this initiative succeeds, it’s going to have to scale the team rapidly, is my guess.
At first glance, this looks like a pretty interesting initiative that has the potential to deliver some really powerful examples of how new technologies can change businesses in new ways. Right now there are 8 ‘proof of concept solutions’ on the blocks, scheduled to be demonstrated at SAP’s upcoming SAPPHIRE NOW conference.
One thing I am interested in finding out more about, though: with one of the key aims being to entice SAP customers to invest in ‘renovating their core’ through S/4HANA using IBM services – to what extent will this partnership team help clients think not only about ‘digital as an end-state’ but also ‘digital as a change model‘? One of the key goals of the partnership on paper is to ‘bring solutions to market faster’, but how that’s done is still going to be a significant challenge.
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