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Small and Midsize Businesses Go Digital to Win Customers

May 11, 2016 by Susan Galer

EJ Jackson, Senior Vice President and General Manager of SAP Anywhere, in this exclusive interview with SAP News, talks about how cloud, mobile and social level the playing field for small and midsize companies, powering accelerated growth in the digital marketplace.

EJ Jackson, SVP & GM of SAP Anywhere, talked about the tremendous momentum of the solution, and how it helps SMEs take full advantage of the digital opportunity. Image via SAP

SAP News: How is digital transformation changing the game for small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs)?

Jackson: One of the misperceptions about digital transformation is that’s a forward-looking statement. But it’s already taking place – people consume more media digitally than through traditional channels. We spend more time on mobile devices than any other activity, including sleep. SMEs can no longer be spectators because it’s not about survival or even playing catch-up. SMEs have to make the right investments to digitally enable all aspects of the business, including how they engage with customers at every touch point whether it’s marketing, selling or ongoing contact online and in-person. Indeed, digital levels the playing field for SMEs because local presence becomes a competitive advantage over big players. SMEs can get closer to customers, increasing engagement and effectiveness in building long-term, trusted relationships.

What are the top three challenges SMEs face this year?

First, SMEs need to upgrade infrastructure and operations to participate in digital transformation so they can attain, win and maintain customers. Forty-five percent of SMEs don’t even have a website for the business. Of those with a website, 90 percent aren’t ecommerce enabled. That has to change. Second, in order to grow, many SMEs need to be bi-modal, expanding into both business-to-consumer and business-to-business. Third is incorporating social, mobile and local into every SME’s operating model around ecommerce to take full advantage of the digital opportunity.

SAP already has solutions for SMEs. Why did you develop SAP Anywhere?

SAP Anywhere is purpose-built to meet the front office demands of SMEs with 10 to 200 employees. It’s mobile-first, meaning SMEs can run their entire business from their mobile devices. Replacing desktop and proprietary software with cloud-based, mobile-enabled solutions is cost-effective given high turnover rates as well as the lack of designated IT departments at most small companies. You hand new employees a mobile device with intuitive applications that are easy to use, and they can be up and running with little training—our goal is deployment in under 40 hours. That translates to highly extensible, easily consumed software with faster time to value minus dependency on IT or third-party providers

What kind of companies are benefitting from SAP Anywhere?

We’ve had tremendous customer uptake of SAP Anywhere. One great example is Baby JN, a baby product franchise in China that has purchased SAP Anywhere for 350 franchisees. They are very excited about having a lightweight, entirely cloud-based, mobile solution. For example, with our mobile point of sale tool called “show and sell”, franchisees in the field can immediately display, sell and drop-ship the latest products their customers want, whether it’s physical items they have with them or inventory ordered virtually from their tablets.

 

Why did SAP launch SAP Anywhere in China?

China is the largest ecommerce market and most advanced mobile commerce market in the world. There are approximately 30 million SMEs in that country, making it the ideal place for us to launch SAP Anywhere. Our development teams are located in SAP Shanghai Labs, which also includes SAP Business One development. Now that we are successful in China, we’ve continued our momentum in the United Kingdom which is a logical stepping stone to the United States, another strategic market and the richest in the world. SAP Anywhere is available on a pilot basis in the United States. Watch for an upcoming launch announcement in the second quarter of this year for full availability in that country.

Who are SAP’s strategic partners, and how will these relationships benefit your customers? 

Collaborating with partners like UPS (United Parcel Service), Google, PayPal and Brand Networks provides tremendous value to our SAP Anywhere customers. Whether it’s converting emails into lead opportunities and support cases or using social platforms for multi-channel marketing campaigns, our collective solutions extend each customer’s investment in SAP Anywhere, allowing them to work smarter for faster revenue generation. Our partners think we have a compelling application with huge value for their customers, while providing greater stickiness for them as those customers use their solutions. The majority of small businesses already use the products and services of these partners, and they’ve committed to driving significant lead generation campaigns for SAP.

What can the market expect in the future from SAP Anywhere?

Our focus for the next year will be to continue expanding the out-of-the-box channels we deliver in each country. We will expand our payment service provider, as many small businesses have existing relationships with various payment and credit card processing gateways. We also plan to invest heavily in our app marketplace, ramping up with partners to develop add-ons extending SAP Anywhere, particularly offering deep sub-vertical industry capabilities.

Top image via Shutterstock

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