The Answer Is Business Outcomes – Wait, What Was The Question?

Fred Isbell

I’ve been in high-tech marketing now for close to 30 years and have spent about half of that time in services-related marketing roles for SAP, Compaq, and DEC.  It’s been quite a ride, and I’ve learned a lot.  I always joke that one of these years I’ll actually get it right – by the time I figure things out, they often change.

I am constantly reinventing myself by staying up-to-date on trends, maintaining an outside-in mentality towards the market, and, most importantly, working diligently to represent the voice of the customer. I’ve attended a variety of events over the years  – everything from Americas’ SAP Users’ Group meetings (ASUG) and SAPPHIRE NOW to those hosted by IDC, Forrester Research, Sirius Decisions, and ITSMA and SAPinsider. And each time, I always try to leave with a new “Aha!” moment that further evolves my thinking.

Recently, I was very fortunate to attend, support, and speak at a major service and support industry event: the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) Technology Services World 2015 (TSW15) in Las Vegas.  The event drew their largest audience to date – more than 1,500 people spanning the service and support community across TSIA member companies.

TSW15: Bringing home new “Aha!” moments

Dedicated to advancing the business of technology services, TSIA presented an impressive agenda of research, best practices, thought leaders, and networking opportunities. And I am only scratching the surface in what TSIA offered – the depth of this event was truly impressive.

During TSW15, three things struck me in particular:

  1. Business outcomes are critical in the “new normal.” Although we’ve been saying this for years, the TSW15 keynotes and breakout sessions clearly affirmed that the new normal is all about speed and predictable outcomes. From best practices and accelerated solutions tools to  methodologies and services, pre-packaged and industrialized solutions that deliver predictable outcomes will continue to dominate the market. Great affirmation that with SAP RDS, Assemble to Order and now SAP Activate we’ve been on the right journey.
  1. Services are a growth engine and critical component of digitalization. IT budgets have been relatively flat or in some cases declining, while line-of-business solutions continue to grow considerably. In turn, there’s been a significant paradigm shift in the “new normal.” This creates major growth in the need for services – from the cloud model of everything as a service to technology services. And after meeting with our analyst partner PAC, I can see why. PAC predicts that consulting and systems integration (CSI) services will be flat or even declining; meanwhile, services for SAP cloud and in-memory computing are set for double-digit growth and will become a multibillion euro market in 2016.  That’s critical mass.
  1. The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than just hype. I must admit: I am always a bit leery of the latest buzzwords and hype rollercoaster. I remember when “push technology” was going to save the world – a perfect example of early-stage technology that reaches fruition down the road in some other form. When it comes to the IoT, the staggering numbers of connected devices will only continue to grow. Whether you subscribe to Gartner’s prediction of 30X growth or IDC’s estimate of 30 billion devices and a market worth 3 trillion dollars in 2020, the potential  IoT is absolutely huge any way you cut it.  The transformation of service and support will be massive, with hyperconnectivity driving large amounts of data through machine-to-machine connectivity. This point was very clear in a great session I attended by Logmein, a leader in mobile and support cloud-based solutions.

Dr. Bernd Welz, executive vice president and global head of Scale Enablement and Transformation for SAP, delivered a great keynote speech that tied together these concepts. Sharing the stage with Elvira Wallace, senior vice president and chief product owner of packaged solutions at SAP,  they discussed a framework for delivering digital transformation with in-memory computing (in the form of SAP HANA) as the digital core.  Elvira went on to explain how SAP Activate provides a framework for innovation and digital transformation.  All in support of delivering business outcomes across resources, employees, suppliers and assets enabled by the Internet of Things.  See for yourself —  read the blog discussing the TSW15 keynote and featured solutions.

Storytelling and building a business case for innovation

I had the pleasure of presenting a breakout session at TSW15: “Building a Business Case for Innovation: Project Considerations for Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, and Social/Digital Transformation.” I explained how innovation and technology enable digital transformation. Of all the customer stories I told to illustrate my thoughts, my favorite is the NHL Fan Experience and Statistics, powered by SAP HANA.

The mix of innovation, digital transformation, technology evolution, and the 3rd platform (as IDC calls it), were well-received at this event.  I was thrilled to receive feedback that the story I had told supports both an outcomes-based and business-IT dialogue about delivering business outcomes.

Click here for my breakout session slides.

FMI TSIATSIA Technology Services World 2016 event in San Diego to see how we’ve progressed on business outcomes and what next year’s “Aha!” moments will be!

In the meantime, check out my Storify virtual “trip report” from my tweets and “social media ambassador” coverage of TSW15, documenting my observations and some key images and moments from the event.

Fred M. Isbell is the senior director and head of thought leadership for Services and Support Marketing for SAP.

Join Fred online: TwitterFacebookLinkedInsap.comSAP Services Hub


About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell is the Senior Director of SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.