Maggie Fox: the next stage of success at SAP (SAP CMO series)

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It’s a confusing marketing technology world at the moment, and nobody knows technology like SAP. Historically focused on the CIO, now the company is reaching out to bring their expertise to a brand new audience: marketers. And that requires a different kind of marketing, something Maggie Fox is keenly aware of, and excited about.

Fox, the Global Senior Vice-President of Digital Marketing for SAP, calls the company she works for “the best-known, least-known company in the world.”

That will change next year, when the company rolls out what she calls “a whole bunch of stuff we’ve never done before” that will ramp up the company’s public presence. As it is, SAP is a giant: 70 percent of the world’s GDP touches an SAP system. To quote a report from Forbes, “this industry-leading, all-encompassing client/server platform is considered a ‘crown jewel’ application.” The company’s recent acquisition of Concur Technologies will mean access to over 50 million users in the cloud. SAP is also investing $130 million (US) in Australia, hoping to capture the country’s government-based business.

She’s had a remarkable ascent. After running a social media startup agency in her native Canada for years, with SAP as one of her customers, Fox made an impressive move to the corporate world and was appointed Global SVP of Digital Marketing in 2013. She credits much of her success to her ability to listen and learn. Her responsiveness to feedback is one of the consequences of being an entrepreneur (founding Social Media Group in 2007) that has shaped her corporate business sense. “Every day, every moment, you got feedback from your customers, and you had to adjust what the business did as a result — otherwise you would not have had a successful business,” she says in an interview with B2B News Network.

It’s likely applying this responsiveness to marketing that has made Fox so successful in two very different worlds. She has a clear vision of what she wants to implement at SAP. Integration of data from customer experience to digital behaviour is a key component of that implementation. “The Corporate Board says sixty percent of the customer decision journey happens before the customer or prospect fully engages with you,” she says. “Eighty percent of all sales, and it doesn’t matter what they are, involve a search at some point.”

One factor valued by SAP customers is the company’s enterprise performance management (EPM) suite, which includes in-memory, governance, and BI capacities. Canadian company The MI Group administers employee relocation services on domestic and international fronts. Its VP and Chief Information Officer, Joanne Hodge, was considering implementing EPM in 2011 because of a need to centralize financial results. The self-service culture complemented The MI Group’s inner workings too. “What we find is internally, our business units are starting to use the portal to run reports for our clients, which is great. That’s pushing responsibility and the self-service out to the business units.”

Canadian lingerie company La Vie En Rose Inc. implemented SAP technologies in 2008. With 153 stores across Canada, the Montreal-based company has store managers identify peak periods unique to their location and plan for high-traffic time periods. Madeleine Doucet, the company’s VP of Business Technology, told ComputerWorld Canada that “conversations now are starting to be different (such as), okay, if that wall isn’t doing so well, and this wall is doing well, and what do you think we should do about that?”

In 2011, both Hodge and Deucet attended SAP’s annual meeting, Sapphire NOW. This year’s event, happening May 5th to 7th, 2015 in Orlando, Florida, has major and varied appeal for attendees. “It gives marketing executives insights into what people are interested in and what they can have conversations about,” Fox says. “On the digital side, we’re able […] to personalize the experience for an industry or even a specific company now. That is powerful. We can show you content, visual identity specific to your industry — or even your company — and use that data to give you a more personal and relevant experience.”

SAP CEO Bill McDermott recently said that in 2015 “(y)ou will see exactly what our plan is to grow the core, to grow the cloud and to grow the operating income.” Fox says attendees can expect valuable insights at SAPPHIRENOW 2015 that they can take back to their staff.

“We really are [… ] fixating and focusing on telling the story of how we can make complicated things simple. Complexity’s the enemy and we can help.”

In a marketing technology environment growing more complex by the week, That’s a comforting thought.

Photo courtesy Maggie Fox

Disclosure: SAP is now a corporate sponsor of B2B News Network.

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