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SAP and PROS Working Together on the Shift to Digital

Vice President of Solutions Marketing at PROS, Geoff Webb, sits down with Brian Diehl, VP of industries at SAP to discuss the markets shift to digital.

Geoff Webb: Hi. I'm Geoff Web, Vice President of Solutions Marketing here at PROS. And today I'm joined by ...
Brian Diehl: Yeah, Brian Diehl. I lead our Industries go to Market for SAP Customer Experience.
Geoff Webb: Awesome. Hey, Brian.
Brian Diehl: Hey.
Geoff Webb: Thanks for joining us.
Brian Diehl: Yeah, great to be here.
Geoff Webb: Good. One of the things we want to talk about, and we were talking about it briefly just before.
Brian Diehl: Yeah.
Geoff Webb: There's a few things going on out there in the market, right? There's this move to digital that's driving both opportunities and challenges for organizations of every kind. It's also being driven by, and also redefining, the way that customers want to interact with people they buy from, the vendors that they purchase from, and also the role of sales of people.
Geoff Web: I know I've sort of packed an awful lot of stuff in there, right?
Brian Diehl: Yeah.
Geoff Webb: But I'd love to get your perspective on what you're seeing from that shift to digital, the shift to digital buying modes, and how all that's sort of rolling up into the way that you're working the organizations you deal with.
Brian Diehl: Sure, sure. You know at a very fundamental level, the best product doesn't win any more.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: There's so much more that goes into it. It's tied to that sales person experience. It's tied to the broad experience overall through the channel to the end consumer. It's actually a very interesting time for manufacturers-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Out there, for-
Geoff Webb: Yeah, I think-
Brian Diehl: VB companies overall, regardless of the industry.
Geoff Webb: One of the interesting things we see is this, a lot of sort of manufacturing organizations are under huge pressure, often driven by buyers, to sort of essentially commoditize themselves, right? They're thinking, oh they want to be pushed into, it's a commodity item, it's all about the price. The way that you resist that, as much as you talked about, it isn't just focusing on, we're going to build the best product. It's really about the kind of end to end experience and how I can use that differentiate the way that my business serves my customer's needs.
Brian Diehl: Absolutely. They've been compelled into this role.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Before they step back they made things, they pushed them into their channel. Of course there were feedback loops for quality, for next gen of the product. But now they're taking much more ownership, need that information, have to play a bigger role in trying to make that happen.
Geoff Webb: Right. And so, from your perspective, that's a fairly foundational shift in the way a lot of organizations operate, right? A shift from, again, I optimize around building a product, I optimize around efficiencies there. That still has to happen, but now laying on top of that, optimizing the experience for the buyers.
Geoff Webb: Is it a technology change that's driving that? Is there process changes? Is it a culture change? How is that sort of being manifested?
Brian Diehl: It actually includes all three.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Right? Because you have to, you know, one begets the other and influences the other. So yeah there's the fundamentals of looking at how you're, you know, we've talked about easy to do business with-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: For ten, 15 years. It's not a new concept. I think the expectations of what that is-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Continues, the stakes continues to go up.
Geoff Webb: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: Because we have great consumer experiences we're projecting those into our business lives, into the B to B space.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Loyalty is not the same.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Right? We're open to new ideas. Global competition has introduced great quality around the world, so it's a different landscape. The natural fences around products are gone.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: So it's in figuring out how to deliver that experience, which definitely impacts the processes and really requires a platform. Because I think in our first run, in our first round going through a lot of the changes, we've introduced capabilities into our businesses-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: And there are what I would say are pockets of awesome. They're doing great things-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: But we want more and we need more.
Geoff Webb: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: We've got to connect it all.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: So now we're much more focused on, okay, how's it working as a platform? Is it fully integrated? Am I getting the information when I need it? Are all the parties getting the information that we need, having access to that information-
Geoff Webb: Yeah, yeah.
Brian Diehl: And putting it to work.
Geoff Webb: So you spend some of your time looking across industries, right? That's part of your role is to look-
Brian Diehl: Absolutely.
Geoff Webb: On there. I'm really curious. Are there industries or areas of industries that you see going faster than others? Do you see some that impacted more foundationally than others?
Brian Diehl: You see all different speeds. Some are more aggressive into the cloud. Some are still, and it's dropping off quite significantly in that regard.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: I think there's a real blurring across industries.
Geoff Webb: Ah, that's interesting.
Brian Diehl: When you get into the use cases, when you get in you say, okay. Take an after market scenario.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: We could probably name 12 industries where there's some concept of after market where it's very much been playing in a traditional, I'd say, manufacturing space.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: You're seeing the push with white goods and direct to consumer, so-
Geoff Webb: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: There's a lot of interplay and there's a lot of sharing. What's fun and what's interesting is to see one industry take the lead. A really advance, build out some concepts and capabilities and then share those across industries and that's-
Geoff Webb: So it's funny you mentioned that because that's an interesting change that's also occurring, right, is the traditional sort of B to B world and the B to C world, they're blurring, melding, changing. So the B to B to C is increasingly becoming something that's a factor in the way that organizations plan. You're seeing that across the [crosstalk 00:05:45]
Brian Diehl: Absolutely. From market places with direct to consumer, all different variations and shared concepts and shared capabilities. We're almost evolving, there will always be industry specific last mile needs-
Geoff Webb: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Brian Diehl: But there's almost a commonality or a-
Geoff Webb: That's interesting.
Brian Diehl: Sharing that's coming across where we're neutralizing some of what was special about a given industry.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Because in playing in the market, in taking on more of the experience, more and more industries and companies need those capabilities.
Geoff Webb: So what you're saying then, if I understand it right, is that-
Brian Diehl: Sure.
Geoff Webb: The drive to meet the kind of, that shift to an experience differentiator driving the business model, that's actually a road in the differences between the way the industries operate.
Brian Diehl: Yeah.
Geoff Webb: We're all becoming spear ends based companies-
Brian Diehl: Yes.
Geoff Webb: Rather than necessarily I'm a this kind of manufacturer.
Brian Diehl: Take pick up in store.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Pick up at distributor, pick up at dealer. It's the same idea, concept, and how Target or someone in sense by saying, "Hey it's free delivery to the store." There's no reason and we're seeing it already, that distribution networks and channels are doing the same.
Geoff Webb: Okay.
Brian Diehl: What it drives is a better relationship and an introduction to build that relationship at that dealership. Maybe I wasn't going to go in there, but I'm shipping heavy products. I'm going to get free shipping. It brings me in the door. I'm face to face now with someone who's representing a brand. I'm adding value and hopefully building loyalty in the process.
Geoff Webb: So one of the things we see is, and again I think you just touched on it really interestingly, is one of the drivers is really this sort of move to personalization and sort of that, I'm going to shape the offering around what I know you need. That obviously has impact, we're kind of used to that in the B to C world, right?
Brian Diehl: Yeah.
Geoff Webb: In B to B though that's becoming increasingly a driver of activity. I don't just want a one size fits all experience when I'm buying from another vendor. I want you to shape it, pricing, packing, the products offerings, the services around it, I want you to shape that for my business for me right now.
Brian Diehl: Yeah, and in some ways I'd say it's easier to execute, but it's more direct and understood already in B to B. B to B has had contract pricing, right?
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: We've had very specific pricing. It's putting it all together is that I want to give you your pricing. I know what you bought from me. Now there might be five versions of you, one in my after market system, one when you filed warranty-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: A version of you in sales, a version of you in [crosstalk 00:08:34]
Geoff Webb: That's a terrifying idea, there's five of me floating around somewhere.
Brian Diehl: There are and they're all wonderful, Geoff.
Geoff Webb: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: When you bring all that together you say, okay. It's up to the manufacturer, it's up to the channel now to kind of unify-
Geoff Webb: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: That idea of who you are-
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: The one version of Geoff. And there's really no excuse, I know what you bought from me.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Your expectation for me is that you're serving up guaranteed to fit parts for the products that I bought from you.
Geoff Webb: Yeah, yep.
Brian Diehl: And it's really connecting those dots and bringing that together, which is the expectation and where we're working with our customers today-
Geoff Webb: Absolutely.
Brian Diehl: In trying to deliver.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: I think it's a fair ask. They're spending thousands of dollars with a manufacturer. They expect they know what you own, which you own, right?
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: I could buy a belt or some other clothes and they know exactly what I bought.
Geoff Webb: Right.
Brian Diehl: Why doesn't the supply and it needs to apply-
Geoff Webb: Yeah, absolutely.
Brian Diehl: Same concepts, they transfer
Geoff Webb: It's fascinating stuff, and I think again the kind of experience and the capacity to delivery that experience is so underpinned by, again, just what you touched on really. The ability to gather and use that data to build a picture of what's going on both sort of at a macro level but then right down to the individual buyer level or that business level.
Brian Diehl: Yeah.
Geoff Webb: And say, how do I consume enough data? How do I manage it? And then how do I utilize it to continue to kind of iterate and build a better experience, and while I'm doing that learn more about what it is they that they want to buy.
Brian Diehl: Yup, absolutely. It's bringing, and that data's sort of lived in silos-
Geoff Webb: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: So how do I bring all this experience data together? How do I bring all the operational data together? Right? And how does those interact and what can we draw from that? What insights, how we can use that further personalize?
Geoff Webb: Yep.
Brian Diehl: How we can use that to better understand the products we're selling and the patterns in the market. It's actually a great time to be [crosstalk 00:10:36] kind of a real interesting-
Geoff Webb: Potentially a data scientist, right?
Brian Diehl: It's a fun time to be a data scientist I think and to be going after the experience-
Geoff Web: Yeah.
Brian Diehl: Because there's a lot to do, and I think there's a lot we can still deliver and wow our customers with.
Geoff Webb: Awesome. Great, thank you so much. It's been really good to talk to you.
Brian Diehl: Yeah, great talking with you.
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