Experience – “something that you do or that happens to you, especially something important that affects you” (Collins Dictionary) – isn’t just another buzzword in the digital economy. Experience matters to everyone: from topping up your Oyster card on your commute to your impression the very first time you walked into your workplace – we’ve all had good and bad experiences.

When I sat down at SAP FKOM in Barcelona, SAP’s Field Kick Off meeting for EMEA North, EMEA South and Middle & Eastern Europe held between the 15 – 17 January, for the first time on Tuesday morning, I knew I was in for a good experience. Why? Because SAP made their entire focus ‘Experience Matters’.

Tom Paulin

Business Development Consultant

A keynote address that set the tone

Adaire Fox-Martin, SAP Executive Board Member – Global Customer Operations, delivered a charismatic opening keynote, which set the tone for the three days. Also on stage delivering their own unique keynote speeches were special guests Joi Ito, Director at MIT Media Lab, Zig Serafin, COO at Qualtric, Victor Goossens, Co-CEO at Team Liquid and Thomas Sauressig, SAP President – Product Development. All conveying the message that ‘delightful experiences’ are the future and ‘customer success is the North Star’ for SAP – each delivered with conviction.

Adaire didn’t suggest that experiences matter only to customers. She emphasised the experience of the customer’s customer, the experience of SAP employees (the commitment to a healthy work/life balance across the entire three days was impressive), and the experience of our families and friends who support us.

What experiences stuck with me? “Compasses over maps” – Joi Ito. In his guest speech, Joi delivered a few resonant points on how to survive the future, the one which I particularly liked was the idea of “Compasses over maps”. In short, this is the idea of adaptation; having an idea of a destination and how you’re going to get there but being able to adapt instantly as surroundings develop and change. In the time I’ve been at Keytree, this is something I see every day, and something I believe is invaluable.

Brian Duffy, SAP President – EMEA North, delivered Wednesday’s keynote, inviting a number of guests on stage to join him. One of which was Bear Grylls, yes the one from TV, who could have been a highlight in his own right, but another guest who really shone was Kelly Sayers, Head of SAP SuccessFactors General Business, EMEA North. Kelly’s jovial tone coupled with her challenge to the audience of how they can start providing a better experience for whom they engage with stood out. Kelly provided a number of simple pointers that everyone can learn from – from the use of social media to enhance an experience, to the use of ‘old-fashioned’ video.

Why Keytree were there?

As an SAP Gold Partner, Keytree weren’t just there to make up the numbers. The experience that Keytree and SAP deliver jointly, is just as important as the experience SAP deliver alone. Keytree participated in seven sessions across the three days, attended many more, met with even more SAP faces, and shared ‘Cerveza y tapas’ with a record turn out at the Keytree Monday evening celebration. We showcased some of the incredible customer experiences and successes we have helped deliver, demonstrated our Keytree In-store Technology solution, our Machine Learning capabilities, our expertise with SAP Cloud Platform, and even flew drones using Conversational Artificial Intelligence via Facebook Messenger over the unsuspecting audience’s heads in a number of our sessions.

We were (as we are each year) blown away by the enthusiasm we experienced from the SAP team – even when the risk of me crashing a drone into any one of them was real. While some of the Keytree team were in Barcelona for FKOM, others were in New York for the National Retail Federation Show 2019, including Will Powell, Head of Innovation. I’d recommend reading his astute review of his experience here.

Experience Matters – to us all

Experience is a broad term, yes, but it is relevant to everyone. Experience isn’t just the ‘things which happen to us’ but the experience we give to others. We must all, as employees, as customers, as friends, do better at enhancing the experience we offer and be more demanding in the quality of experience we receive. It’s through this that “meaningful, purpose-driven benefit” can be made real to the people we’re interacting with, not just the ‘business’ as a whole. Enhancing experience can start as something as simple as saying thank you when someone holds the door open for you – but it certainly shouldn’t end here. 2019 can be a great experience for everyone – if we all do our part.