Cloud, culture and the customer

When it comes to selling software and cloud services, a key challenge is helping customers make use of their data.

Sanjay Brahmawar, CEO Software AG Sanjay Brahmawar, CEO Software AG
As we move to digital transformation, it’s vital to consider data, as well as organisational culture and the customer.

At Software AG, we offer core integration, which connects applications and cloud. But the data is of no use if you can’t integrate it, move it between applications, pull it into a data lake and create analytics on top of it. Bringing all that data together is a big challenge for companies, especially when you combine it with other sources, such as IoT.

We know hybrid cloud models will be around for a long time. Customers may choose to put some of their data and applications in the cloud. And some have adopted a cloud-first approach. But they also end up having lots of legacy – sometimes they’re able to move that legacy onto the cloud and sometimes they’re not.

In addition to hybrid cloud, there’s also the growing popularity of multi-cloud – the use of multiple clouds in a single architecture. I believe most customers are going to want to have that flexibility. Cloud-to-cloud integration is something that’s becoming a critical necessity for our customers; having that capability, so they don’t get locked down.

Increasingly, customers want to gain the benefit of scalability, flexibility and compute power and not have to invest all that money themselves. They can access the compute power when they want it, and they can scale up and down. A lot of companies are doing that, and while some are way ahead, others are still catching up.

Culture of transformation

When it comes to transformation, it’s important to understand the culture of your organisation and ensure you understand what your customers will need in the future. You need to look at aspects around strategic thinking and execution, and how to engage with customers. All of that needs to become part of your organisation’s culture.

This could mean having the right culture of collaboration within your organisation, or enabling all your people, and asking for and accepting feedback and insights from customers.

No strategy can be executed without looking at the cultural aspects. At the end of the day what is a software business? It’s only people. It’s people who create a business’ IP. And with people, culture is the most important aspect.

The customer experience

 It sounds like common sense, but the customer experience is a critical ingredient. You need to make a conscious effort and understand what clients, and their customers, are using your products and services for, and how they’re benefiting.

From our perspective, selling software isn’t the end, it’s the first step. Customers getting value out of that technology is the most important thing. You’ll never sell to a customer again if you haven’t helped them drive value out of that technology.

The software industry is famous for selling software that ends up being on-the-shelfware. Every time we sell technology, we must have experts working with customers, and deploying the technology. This is what customer service is about. The more we go to the hybrid structure of the cloud model, the more of our business becomes recurring revenue. It becomes Software-as-a-Service. What’s more important isn’t selling the licence to the customer, but ensuring the customer is using the software to leverage the benefits.