SAP’s Scott Russell speaks on leadership and transformation

By Judith Magyar
Speaking at SAP Sapphire Orlando, SAP Executive Board Member Scott Russell highlighted the importance of leadership and transformation

According to SAP Executive Board Member Scott Russell, the stars of the show are the customers.

As the person responsible for Customer Success at SAP, he is intimately acquainted with their challenges, needs and opportunities. Addressing the crowd on day two of SAP Sapphire Orlando, he highlighted the two things that matter most to them: leadership and transformation.

According to Russell, transformation is not about doing the same thing in a different environment; it’s about doing it differently. Getting it right is a leadership job. Russell invited Art Sebastian, vice president of Digital Experience at Casey’s Convenience Stores, and Melissa Goldman, vice president of Engineering at Google, to share their insights.

Going Digital with SAP

“Change isn’t easy, because it requires self reflection,” said Sebastian, explaining that the power of leadership is pulling many people together to accomplish what you can’t do yourself.

When Casey’s celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2018, the company reflected on what it would require to stay successful for the next 50. It realised it needed to become a contemporary version of themselves. That meant investing in the supply chain and distribution centres. It meant modernising the brand and transforming its merchandising strategy. Most of all it meant going digital — and doing it quickly. With the pandemic, mobile apps and online services were no longer an option.

“SAP played a monumental role in our transformation,” said Sebastian. “SAP has the ability to lean in with the customer. We’re in the unique business of selling food, and SAP helped us think through the process of how to customise the experience to meet our customer needs.”

Every project has timelines, challenges and surprises, but Casey’s north star always remained its purpose, which is to make life better for their guests and communities every day. Customising experiences was the main challenge, especially the app for creating your own pizza, but with everyone understanding their roles and their mission, the company succeeded in its goal to digitalise their business. Today, 65% of revenue is generated from digital channels.

“Sciencing the Hell Out of Data”

For Melissa Goldman, a data geek with a vast array of responsibilities at Google, leadership is about making decisions even if they may be unpopular. While Google may be a very prominent company, its still quite young. Transformation is necessary in order to prioritise innovation and increase speed to market.

“Google is a data-driven company, and SAP is the foundation. There is a lot of complexity around change,” she said. “Google has the best engineers in the world, but SAP is the industry leader in this domain and has the best practices for bringing change to an enterprise from start to end. If you want rigor and discipline and the right data model, get SAP.”

Data quality is a key requirement for Google, a company whose mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The company runs its financial reporting on SAP S/4HANA, which provides the single source of truth — that critical state of being for a company’s data where it can all be found via a single reference point.

“Now we can move from just corralling information to applying analytics and leveraging the cloud environment,” Goldman explained. “This an opportunity for data sciencing the hell out of data, for analysing it to get the best value for the organisation.”

Partnering for Success

Besides thanking customers for their trust in SAP, Russell also noted that the SAP ecosystem of 2,200 partners is instrumental in delivering customer success. SAP partners help customers create smart, best-run businesses that help make the world run better.

His final guest Geoff Scott, CEO of ASUG, reminded the audience that in turbulent times like ours, with danger lurking everywhere and the health of the planet imperiled, the need for partnership and collaboration is greater than ever.

“We’re in the same boat,” he said. “Our chances of success are greater together, so take advantage of everything this community offers.”


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