Hungary for Success

Feature Article | February 17, 2009 by Mark Arato and Christoph Zeidler

Balázs Ablonczy SAP Hungary managing director

Mister Ablonczy, what is SAP’s reputation in Hungary? Are people familiar with the brand?

SAP has a good reputation here. Hungarians know what SAP stands for, even the average person on the street does. In fact, they know SAP better than Oracle. I know many financial managers and directors of smaller companies in Hungary, and they all use different systems, even the international companies.

Again and again they tell me that they dream about one day working for a company that runs SAP. And they mean it. In their profession, the peak experience is to work in a company that runs on SAP solutions and where they can learn how to use it. That’s the message they give to us – and they give it to us loud and clear.

SAP Hungary

  • Founded in 1997
  • Market share: 36%
  • Number of employees: 452
  • SAP Hungary Ltd. consists of SAP Labs Hungary, SAP Global Support Center Budapest, and the field organization.

How does the market accept this message?

SAP is the leader in applications, in real business solutions. I am very happy that SAP as a whole is moving towards small and midsize enterprises (SME). We recently celebrated the 1000th Hungarian customer, who is using SAP Business One, so we’re right on track in the SME segment. But we need to be more flexible and have a greater go-to-market attitude. Hungary is in a good position to grow in the midmarket, due to the strong move for near shoring and the opening of small financial centers and shared services operations. German and Austrian companies are increasingly investing in Hungary, and part of SAP’s installed base, including IBM, Vodafone, Pepsi, and Exxon Mobile, has moved into the country.

What are the growth drivers in the market?

I think the market is hot in both the midmarket and large enterprise sectors. However, GDP growth has slowed down in the last few years, and given the current crisis, Hungary as a whole might suffer even further. I’m afraid the country has many problems and many challenges ahead, both economically and politically.

However, even in times of tight IT budget, there will still be a need for consolidation and for increased efficiency, especially in the public sector. That’s still a white space with lots of potential. Many public sector customers are using local solutions, and we believe there is a realistic opportunity to replace these over the next years. Also, SAP traditionally has a strong market share in telecommunications, financials, banking, and retail.

Where do you see need for more action on the part of SAP?

Benchmarked with other Central European countries, we’re facing a couple of challenges, such as market engagement, sales coverage, and partner network. We need to turn them into opportunities because customers have budgets and are spending them.

As for the products: we need to push more actively in areas such as SRM and CRM. We also have the exciting range of products from SAP BusinessObjects. And before you ask, the acquisition was perceived very positively in the Hungarian market!

What are your goals for the future? Where do you see SAP Hungary in five years?

We want to grow. My goal is identify how we can be aware of all business opportunities in SME, how we can generate demand for our solutions among large enterprises (LE), and how we can acquire big contracts from the public sector. Despite the current economic crisis,

I believe that with the great team here in Hungary we should be able to substantially grow our business in license terms within the next five years. We will push back even harder on Oracle and Microsoft, and we will be an even stronger and clearer market leader than we are today. We are aiming at a stronger position both in the SME space and in the public sector. Through our passion and the teamwork of the local specialists, I’m convinced that SAP Hungary will make a huge leap forward.

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