Saturday, July 12, 2014

If You Go Home With Shoes You Are Guaranteed To Be Popular

I spent some time his week at the offices of an apparel industry customer with their CIO for a road map and strategy session for them. My colleagues from the retail and fashion industry verticals were there along with the account executives.

One of the perks you get working at SAP is the deep exposure you can get to specific industries during such customer sessions, even if your focus is on lines of businesses such as HR, procurement or finance. For such strategy meetings with CXOs of customers, SAP normally brings its best and brightest global experts and it is a privilege to listen to them. For example, for this high level strategy and road map meeting with the CIO and his leadership team, my colleague Lori Mitchell-Keller, who heads the SAP Retail industry business unit and Peter Akbar who is the Chief Solution Owner for SAP Fashion Management were there to outline the trends, SAP's strategy, and recommend a way forward for the customer. Watching these colleagues outline the solution is the best way to learn any SAP product. In most cases such experts have a deep understanding of challenges facing the industry, are the designers of early versions of the software and are the main influencers of the solutions today.  They explain the solution in a few minutes with pictures and simple words with no hyperbole or jargon.

In this session, I learned a lot about the disruption happening in the retail industry and how SAP can help customers with its software that enables omni-channel retailing. I also learned about the new kinds of industry software we are building on the HANA platform for the retail, apparel and fashion industries.

This customer has already started their journey to the cloud for human resource management software. We discussed the SuccessFactors cloud strategy and road map and how the SuccessFactors cloud can contribute to their business goals. As always we did a whiteboard session to plan out the next three years.

On may way back home I stopped at the customer's company store and bought shoes for my daughter, my wife and my 3 year old niece.  The young lady at the check out counter, who clearly was an expert not only at selling shoes but also buying them,  gave me a tip about buying shoes for women. She said that if I go home with shoes, no matter what the shoe is, I am guaranteed to be popular.

Since I was from out of town, I was concerned about the shoe size and color preferences of my daughter and asked the sales person about the return policy and terms. She explained to me that I can buy her company's products through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on and exchange or return the product anywhere. She said that the customer experience is guaranteed to be the same.

I came away with a much better understanding of omni-channel retailing and why we build software for that purpose.

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