April 23, 2012 // By: Heather McIlvaine // SAP and Google: Partners by Design
Today, McPhail leads the On-Demand relationship with Google. It all started back in 2011, when the SAP Ecosystem & Channels organization gave him the rather open-ended task of seeking out “game-changing partners” for SAP Business ByDesign. That is, big companies with market power that offered complementary solutions or services.
Plenty of businesses match that description in Silicon Valley, where McPhail is based: “We were looking at companies like Intuit, eBay, PayPal, Google, and a number of others.” So how did he decide on Google? By talking to the sales force and solution managers involved with SAP Business ByDesign as well as actual users. “We were able to find out fairly quickly what customers wanted. This was partly due to the fact that we had such a small focused team, so the information didn’t get obscured through multiple communication channels.”
Christian Happel, Director Product Management for Business ByDesign, was also part of that small team. “We just sat down together and thought about what would be good for SAP’s customers and what would be good for SAP. We had to rely on our own insights gained from direct customer contact and we wanted to keep it simple,” says Happel. Following this customer-centric approach, Happel created a solution blueprint and then he and McPhail proposed the Google Apps integration. In their research, they had found market analysis that indicated up to 25 percent of SAP Business ByDesign’s target market run Google Apps in one way or another.
The next steps involved more talks with SAP Business ByDesign customers to find out which business functions they were using, which Google Apps they were running, and how they used both products together. “We built prototypes and took them to 10 existing ByDesign customers who were already using Google Apps to confirm we were on the right track,” Happel explains. By the end of the year, SAP announced its plans to integrate ByDesign with Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar.