On this episode of The Six Five – Insiders Edition I am joined by Julia White, SAP’s Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Marketing for a conversation around digital cloud, ERP and other SAP solutions.
My conversation with Julia revolved around the following:
- Julia’s observations on SAP over the last year
- An overview of SAP’s “Always on” innovation
- How SAP is focusing on sustainability
- How SAP is getting customers to come along on their innovation journey
Watch my interview with Julia here:
Listen to the episode on your favorite streaming platform:
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Daniel Newman: Hey everyone. Welcome to this Six Five Insider Edition. Daniel Newman here, from the Six Five. Founder, Principal Analyst, Futurum Research. Joined by Julia White, SAP’s Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Marketing. So many titles, leading so many things. Someone I had a chance to spend a little time with last week, in Florida, at SAP Sapphire. Julia, how are you?
Julia White: I am great. I’m so glad to be here.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I’m really glad you were able to make it. I would’ve loved to have done this live, but the great thing about last week was, I had the chance to come hear from you live, sit down, get the Q and A going. Got a little face to face time with Christian, he looked incredibly refreshed. And he looked so young, and just sharp.
Julia White: Yep.
Daniel Newman: Man, What a great conversation that was, as well. I know we don’t have a ton of time, this is what we like to call a quick insider. But in the 10 minutes I had with you, one thing that you mentioned at the Q and A that you did, the fireside chat, was you talked about being here a year. And so the first question that came to my mind is, wow, one year over, what are your observations? What are you seeing? How’s that gone for you?
Julia White: Yeah. Well, It’s been awesome, in a word, if I had to pick. And before I joined SAP, I certainly had my perception, and understanding of the company, and so much potential. And joining it, that’s what I experienced, too. We do such incredibly important work, across a vast set of areas. And I’m always like, “If people just understood the amazing things we do, they would be really impressed, on that front.” So it’s marketing and solutions officer, that’s my opportunity, and my challenge. But it’s been a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work, but nothing comes easy.
Daniel Newman: Well, I mean, it was probably a little different culture, where you came from to where you are, both exciting growth companies, right. And Of course, spending that time with you guys, there were some really consistent themes. And one of the themes that came up a number of times was sustainability. I don’t want to just get your take on sustainability, because hopefully, if you’re paying attention, everybody cares about this topic. But one of the things, as an analyst, and the reason we’ve even started a practice focusing on sustainability, Julia, is that, I feel there’s a lot of talk, a lot of posturing, a lot of positioning, and a lot of promising. There’s a lot of Ps, right? I should just come up with something. That deserves a blog post. But what I’m not necessarily seeing enough of is, tech companies sharing how, practically, their customers can execute. And so I felt like that was a big part of the conversation last week. How are you guys sort of helping companies get actionable with their sustainability?
Julia White: Right. I mean, I’ll even go back to, one of the reasons I joined SAP was, it’s so purpose-driven, and I love our purpose around, help the world run better, improve people’s lives. And I would say the improve people’s lives is so grounded on what we do around sustainability. And I think, if you asked myself, or any of my peers on the executive board at SAP, we would talk about our ability to change the game around sustainability as maybe our most important work the company’s ever done, and we’ve done important work. So I do think it’s a real opportunity for us. And as you said, every vendor’s talking about sustainability. In my old life, on Azure, we were talking about how Azure data centers were more sustainable than running your own, right. Everyone has an angle on it. I think the unique and awesome position that SAP has is, as the business process company, right? As the company that understands how products get designed, manufactured, through the supply chain, into operations, we have the ability, at every one of those points, to make it more sustainable.
So I think about all the different parts of technology, from infrastructure to the most broad productivity side of things, we have this really amazing opportunity to really have a very meaningful shift. And I love Christian, who is young, and very bright, and very impressive, as you said. He talks about, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. And I think there’s just such simple clarity in that. And, sustainability has to be there, right. At some level, sustainability is a data problem, right. We don’t have the transparency in the data, we don’t know where it is. We don’t have to manage it. That is the place where we can really provide insights across the business process, to do that. And simple things, but really powerful of, how we help companies measure the top line and bottom line. Why can’t we help them with what we talk about, the green line?
Having that measurement from the beginning of by the time you start designing a product, you’re going to choose more sustainable sources from the design, not after the fact, and all the way through the supply chain. Are you choosing suppliers that are ensuring there’s no human rights violations in how they’re collecting raw materials, as an example. All of those steps, having insight, and the ability to choose. Have the data, and then manage it accordingly, is where we’re focused, and where we’re already making traction. And we still have a lot more to do, right. We’re not done, and it’s more than SAP, but it’s certainly us working together with our ecosystem.
Daniel Newman: And I also think it’s a problem that you are uniquely positioned to solve. And I think that’s, maybe, humble roots. I know my co-host partner in crime here, Patrick Moorhead, always likes to say, “Don’t be apologetic, SAP.” Don’t be apologetic for where you are in your cloud journey. You guys are doing well, you’re moving quickly, and by the way, you have massive enterprises that are running on SAP, and the migration, and the value of that migration is not maybe fully determined yet, as they’re still trying to run their business. Meaning, they’re trying to migrate, they’re trying to move, but they’re also trying to continue to run their company, which is what you are so uniquely positioned. So You mentioned things like sustainability. Look, companies that are both sustainable, but meeting their digital objectives concurrently, and I’ve read research about this, are going to see acceleration faster, both of their business, of the customer experience, and then of course, of their sustainable goals, Julia.
I think a lot about that, because you guys have such a amazing set of data, and you have such industry domain knowledge that goes so much deeper than most companies, which should put you in a great position to actually solve these sustainability challenges. So I just want to come back to one thing. Because I guess I want to finish up, I want to take two topics and they tie into the cloud topic, too. Sustainability and supply chain. So I was sitting there listening to the technology leadership of your organization. You, I listened to Christian, and one of the things I said is, with all the data you have, you guys must have an amazing ability to help companies better understand every part of their supply chain, to be able to do everything from, like you said, procuring more sustainable goods, to meeting demand challenges, because you can improve the complexity.
And then, to help companies take all that data, use data pipelines, machine learning, and AI to actually improve how they spiral up, and create better processes going forward. This, to me, is what I kind of look at as, always on innovation. How do you build a culture that can run as an, Always on? I know run SAP has been a line. But how do you run “Always on” innovation in SAP?
Julia White: Right. Well, a combination of two things. Like you said, I was going to reiterate, yeah. From the whole we call about end to end business processes, right? That’s where SAP and then our sweet spot is, and we have a very unique position in the world. And I think as you point out a responsibility because of that, to help around sustainability, but all the way through the whole supply chain. So across all the categories we’re in, right from the core ERP and finance through supply chain to HR and customer experience, essentially, if you look at any one day, there’s something new coming from SAP and then, honestly that’s the benefit of cloud delivery. You don’t have to wait for the next upgrade. You’re constantly getting new capabilities and we release a ton of new, whether it’s sustainability or industry cloud solutions.
So very specific industry business processes, that’s always on rhythm or the business network, continuing to see new capabilities come there or even new partnerships. I love the one we’re doing with EcoVadis so that we can actually have kind of due diligence on supply chain, like badge. It says how sustainable are that your supply chain partners, right. So not just even SAP’s direct capabilities coming out, but our ecosystem we’re making it easier and easier for them to innovate with us as well. But because our service area is so broad, there is every single day something coming to market from SAP in that always on capability. But again, not in big monolithic chunks, but just bite size, right. And again, that’s just part of being cloud delivery, but also real a reality of just the incredible surface area we have as a technology provider.
Daniel Newman: And, and just to kind of wrap here, but as a portfolio and not necessarily just an ERP company, which is something I kind of feel the need, I have to reiterate, because oftentimes you say SAP and people go, oh the ERP it’s, well they have a very big portfolio, but yes they do EERP is as well, but rise. So some of the innovation is in product and some of the innovation is how you enable the customers and the enterprises to leverage the innovation. And that’s one thing I’d love to kind of wrap up on because I felt like rise really rise and shine it rose and shown this year at Sapphire. How important is that to really getting your customers to come along on your innovation journey?
Julia White: No, I’m so glad that you picked up on that. And I feel others at Sapphire as well. Because the magic of rise is helping customers actually realize the outcomes of the digital transformation that they want. Right. And you’ve seen the stats of how many people are disappointed with their digital transformation and blah, blah, blah. This is our very best foot forward to say, when you’re going to take that big step to truly digitally transform, we’re here to make sure you get the outcomes you want. And that’s the promise of it, right. And that’s why we talk about rise. We even start with business process transformation. It’s not about move to the cloud, blah blah. Sure. That’s a necessary step, but it’s really about using the technology. We have to actually understand today’s business processes, benchmark them across 40,000 organizations. How fast is your invoicing?
How fast is your supply chain choices? How fast is your procurement? Do you have 10 extra steps? You don’t need fixing that and amazing customer stories around. I dropped in your business process, understanding and like such amazing insights and fixed problems so quickly that I couldn’t see before. That’s the big impact. And then continuing to run it with the cloud with us, wrap around at managing it so that things like security and reliability and all those are best in class. And then you’re able to take the new innovations as we release them. That’s when we can bring our best part forward and help customers get the digital transformation in a way that lives up to their expectations and isn’t disappointing.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you hit a lot here and again on these short insiders, I could always go another 10, 20 minutes, but part of the quick hit is being prompt. It was a great time Julia coming out to Orlando, like I said, it was great to have a chance to get face to face with you talking to your leadership team, hearing from everyone and really kind of like I said, I love that it wasn’t so product centric, but it really was solution centric. There were products across the gambit, but realistically it all tied back to the fact that companies are, are really fighting to innovate in a new economy, a shifting economy. That’s going to look very different over the next few years and it’s going to be technology and it’s deflationary value that’s going to really get us through. What are going to be a different set of times than we had during COVID times.
But nevertheless, digital cloud, ERP all these solutions that you guys are rolling out are so critical to every business. I really appreciate you taking the time. It’s been great to have you here on the Six Five.
Julia White: Time flies. Yeah. So great chatting with you. And I agree that’s such an important area and a thrill. I feel privileged to be working, in this area of the technology stack, because it has such impact, but great to stack with you. And I look forward to doing it again.
Daniel Newman: Let’s do it soon.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio