SAP must fix customer communication breakdown, says new UK MD


SAP must improve its customer relationships, according to the German software giant's new UK managing director.

Cormac Watters used his first keynote at the SAP UK and Ireland User Group Conference in Birmingham today to criticise his new employer's customer communication skills.

He said: "We've got to get closer to the customers and we've got to get closer to the partners.

"I used to be a customer and we used to see the account executive about this time of year, when it came to Q4, and if we didn't have anything to talk about then we wouldn't see him again until this time of year the next year.

"We've got to find a way to change that."

Watters, who joined the company last month, added he was unaware of SAP's cloud extension policy when he joined, which allows customers to replace license agreements with subscription payments when they shift on-premise applications to the cloud.

He said: "I felt a little bit dumb, but it's not my fault, it's actually SAP's fault for not telling me."

His comments follow a study conducted by the user group that found just 10 per cent of 117 customers have taken advantage of this policy, and a similar on-premise one, since it was announced more than a year ago.

User Group chairman Philip Adams said in his keynote that SAP must do more to educate customers about its policies and technology.

"It's a challenge back to SAP that we need to be educated more about these policies and services that could help us adopt [new products] in the future," he said.

He added that half of the 177 customers surveyed believe their SAP representatives lack the knowledge required to help them adopt new products.

"SAP can help us get to the right people. We know these people exist within SAP so we want them to help us get to the right people so we can move forward," Adams said.

Other findings suggested licensing and subscription barriers were bigger challenges to adopting new technology for SAP customers than for customers of other companies, cited by an additional 15 per cent of respondents when it came to SAP specifically.

Watters said his aim as UK and Ireland MD would be to promote various offers more clearly to customers to help them adopt new technology, and communicate more in order to understand the challenges users face.