Following the huge success of its RISE go-to-market program for large corporations, SAP is further differentiating itself from its enterprise-apps competitors by launching a parallel mid-market program called GROW.
I continue to be surprised that SAP still stands alone among the world’s leading SaaS vendors —including Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Workday, and Microsoft — in offering a complete and seamless customer engagement program that makes it easier for customers to buy, deploy, and optimize enterprise apps in the cloud.
More than two years ago, SAP introduced its RISE “business transformation as a service” program that streamlines the customers’ engagement with not just SAP but also partners and hyperscalers; gives customers access to highly detailed SAP data revealing optimal implementation approaches by business objective, industry, and other angles; and also weaves in SAP’s Business Technology Platform.
Okay, that sounds nice in theory — but has the RISE idea gained traction among customers?
Well, earlier this year, SAP CEO Christian Klein told me that RISE has “become the heart of our strategy” and “one of SAP’s most-successful offerings ever.” And the financial evidence of Klein’s vigorous endorsement of RISE can be seen in SAP’s cloud revenue growth throughout the past year when it was steadily more than 30%, and in its guidance for calendar 2023 of 22% to 25%.
So it looks to me like a brilliant move by SAP to launch a complement to RISE, which is aimed primarily at SAP’s installed base of global corporations, with a parallel mid-market initiative that SAP has dubbed GROW.
Earlier this week, I spoke with SAP’s Scott Russell, head of global customer success and member of the company’s Executive Board, about the rationale behind GROW. In our conversation, Russell repeatedly came back to the key objectives of GROW:
- Rapid time to value for midsized customers
- Predictable pricing
- Simplified evaluation and deployment process
- Access to anonymized case studies and related data that can help customers plot out optimized rollout plans
“It lets midsized customers take our comprehensive S/4HANA Cloud ERP solution — the public edition — together with our fast adoption so customers can be up and running in the cloud with their full ERP in four to six weeks with a baseline activation,” Russell said.
“It gives them predictable pricing but also gives the assurance of rapid time to value, which is important.”
On top of that, Russell said, the GROW program also rolls in “industry best practices, or industry templates” to allow each customer to map out a unique plan aligned with its business objectives.
“And we’ve combined GROW with the resources and the capabilities of our Business Technology Platform, in particular SAP Build, which is our incredible low-code/no-code platform that gives business users the ability to create enterprise applications, automate process, and design new sites, without writing any code,” said Russell.
With RISE as a highly successful model to emulate, SAP built GROW on that foundation but also tailored GROW to the distinct needs of fast-growing small and mid-sized businesses that don’t have big IT teams — or any IT team — and have zero appetite for long, disruptive, and expensive implementations.
“We saw the success of Rise, which is clearly centered around transformation,” Russell said, with particular emphasis on the ways in which SAP and its partners can help customers become digital businesses in a predictable, scalable, and secure way.
“And with GROW for mid-market customers, time to value is particularly important — they don’t want to be tied up in long IT initiatives. They want the best practices that we already have out of the box for their industry, and they also want to leverage the Build capability so they can create new solutions on their own without needing an IT team,” Russell said.
The all-in collaboration with partners gives the GROW program additional potential to help customers with industry-specific innovation, Russell added.
“Our ecosystem is looking at this and saying ways they can add industry-specific capabilities through extended services.”
Maybe the other big app providers have programs comparable to RISE and GROW, but are choosing to keep them quiet. But I doubt it.
And until they build those, SAP’s all alone in offering a powerful go-to-market engine aimed squarely at delivering what customers want most.
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