Spreading the Word

Feature Article | January 7, 2004 by admin

From the outset of the event it was clear that SAP had a message to get across. Hans-Juergen Uhink, Senior Vice President of SMB Global Field Operations at SAP, stressed SAP’s commitment to the SMB space and further development of the SAP partner program. Uhink outlined strong growth targets for SAP – a 15 percent share of SAP’s licence revenue by 2005. Uhink went on to present SAP’s solution sets for the SMB market showing how the SAP SMB product portfolio and corresponding qualified partner solutions have been designed to cover all SMB market segments. He talked about the importance of a quick return-on-investment for SMBs and the need for a transparent total cost of ownership and longer software replacement cycles.
Other key messages included “quality not quantity” in the partner channel, global product coverage and availability, and the need to build awareness for SAP’s products in the small to midsize arena. Uhink finished on a note that was echoed throughout the rest of the SAP presentations, “We are not talking about theory or vision here. SAP is offering practicable solutions to SMBs and a proven concept – not trial and error. We want to provide SMBs with scalabiltity and flexibility to change and grow. Small businesses might not be trendsetters from the start, but they shouldn’t be hindered from growing and moving with the trends.”
Analysts had a chance to hear more detail about SAP’s SMB solutions in the subsequent presentations. Robert Viehmann, Director of Global SMB Development at SAP, used the image of Lego bricks and pre-built Lego tractors to explain the evolution from mySAP Business Suite to mySAP All-in-One. The biggest box of bricks represents mySAP Business Suite and the smaller box, the more tailored, industry-specific mySAP All-in-One components. Put the bricks or the components together and you get the pre-built tractor or preconfigured mySAP All-in-One solution. Taken one step further, SAP partners add a few extra valves and shovels and you end up with an individualized mySAP All-in-One customer solution.

Proof of concept

Viehmann brought three pairs of customers and partners to the stage to talk about their experiences implementing and using the mySAP All-in-One ‘tractors’. Lars Landwehrkamp, of German partner company All for One Systemhaus AG, described the benefit of the mySAP All-in-One solution concept for their company, “The main advantage for us is that we’re buying in a software package that’s stable and reliable. We have the same TCO issues as our customers – we need software that is built to grow and lasts a long time.” All for One introduced their customer, Lederle-Hermetic, a leading pump manufacturer, and the ‘tractor’ they implemented for them – the qualified mySAP All-in-One solution, All for Machine. All for Machine was implemented at Lederle-Hermetic on time and within budget with measurable benefits including a decrease of delivery time on standard pumps from one week to two days. The audience also heard from UK partner, Ascent Technology, and their satisfied customer, Microturbo, who went live with Ascent for Aerospace & Defence within four months. The last partner to speak, SAP Italia Consulting, put their successful partnership with SAP down to the fact that they engage in ‘complimentary business’ – combining the capabilities of SAP as software provider and SAP Italia Consulting as service provider. Their customer, Italian consumer product company, Macchingraf, was happy to substantiate this claim.

Common sense software

SAP Business One was the next product to be showcased on stage. Miho Birimisa, Global Product Manager for SAP’s SMB Business Unit, stressed the real-time management and integration strengths of SAP Business One and described the product as a “common sense” solution for SMBs – a concept he believes is not applied often enough when it comes to software approaches. Aimed at smaller enterprises, Birimisa described SAP Business One as an uncomplicated product that is easy to use, customize, and implement – keeping any change management efforts to a minimum. The product philosophy surrounding SAP Business One rests on its ‘add-on-able’ nature. While the stand-alone solution itself offers a complete, out-of-the-box business management solution, the ‘kernel’ of SAP Business One can be supplemented easily both by SAP add-ons and partner add-ons. Global coverage was also a key message in Birimisa’s presentation – again the ‘add-on-able’ quality to SAP Business One makes localization quicker and easier. Currently localized versions of SAP Business One are available in 24 countries in 14 different languages.

Show and tell

The assembled analysts had a chance to judge Birimisa’s “common sense” claim for themselves during a live demo of SAP Business One. The “one screen, one click” integration that Birimisa had talked about in his presentation seemed to hold true. Ilan Tal, SAP Business One Global Product Expert, took participants through two typical customer calls – a sales call and a service call. Tal demonstrated how stock availability, price checks, customer history, customer service data, and order info are just one click away. Managerial reporting tools such as the sales analysis and sales opportunity pipeline showed how SAP Business One, despite its simple set-up, is able to provide essential detail where required. Tal also illustrated how Drag&Relate functionality allows users to drag information from disparate data stores and link them on a single desktop. Automatic alerts showed the system’s ‘muscle’, as it took over at various points during the demo – issuing warnings to Tal of potential problems with the customer’s credit history and preventing him from granting an over-zealous discount without authorization from his manager.
The final demo of the day showed the integration opportunities offered by SAP Business One. The sample scenario illustrated interaction between a larger enterprise operating mySAP Business Suite and its smaller subsidiaries running SAP Business One. The point of the demo was to show consolidation and real-time data transfer between mySAP Business Suite and SAP Business One in a typical Internet sales transaction. Within a matter of minutes, spectators were treated to a quick-fire display of connectivity between SAP R/3, SCM, APO, Business Warehouse, and SAP Business One resulting in rapid order fulfilment, distribution, delivery, and payment.

Word of mouth

Perhaps the most valuable part of the briefing session from an analyst standpoint was the chance to ask partners and customers directly about their experiences of SAP’s SMB products and partner network. Discussion panels made up of both mySAP All-in-One and SAP Business One partners and customers fielded a number of questions from the floor. Asked to comment on the key pain points for customers in their industries, partners cited flexibility and integration as major differentiators for their SMB clients. Partners also talked about their relationship with SAP. Kelvin Harrison, Managing Director of UK-based SAP Business One partner, Azur Group, singled out SAP for its focus on its partners’ business. “SAP is one of the first vendors to realise that its partners have to make a living too and to have acted on it.” Harrison complemented SAP on its support of partners in terms of training, marketing efforts, and assistance with initial deals.
Customers also had something to say about their relationship with their partners. Maurizio Testa of Macchingraf, clearly has a good relationship with his mySAP All-in-One partner. Introduced earlier in the day not as a customer but a ‘friend’ by Eraldo Beltrami of SAP Italia Consulting, Testa had graduated to a ‘brother’ by the afternoon’s proceedings. Macchingraf chose mySAP All-in-One to support its aim to move from a product-driven business to a customer-driven organization. Their partner, SAP Italia Consulting, was selected based on their reputation, competence, and “ pragmatic, straightforward approach”. For Bernhard Reins of Meet-Music AG, the local presence and industry knowledge offered by their SAP Business One partner, Straton, was important. In terms of their purchase of SAP Business One, a deciding factor was a need to integrate with suppliers running SAP. Integration also played a major role in KIC Automotive GmbH’s choice of SAP Business One. One of the company’s most major customers uses SAP. Anton Koenen of KIC Automotive explained, “Other companies offered integration with SAP but not on the same scale or with the same range of functionality. We were also looking for software that would give us a reasonable potential for rapid growth and SAP Business One fulfilled this criteria.” The expertise of KIC’s SAP Business One partner was also key in their software selection. Computer im Buero Dr. Grueneberg GmbH was able to adapt SAP Business One to the company’s special requirements within a short period of time.
The remainder of the SAP SMB Analyst Day was devoted to one-on-one sessions between analysts, customers, and partners. Overall feedback from analysts attending the event has so far been positive. Many of those polled found the event successfully increased their understanding of SAP’s SMB products, business strategy, and go-to-market approach. Some analysts who were initially sceptical about SAP’s decision to target this space now comment that SAP is offering a solid option for its SMB clients. One challenge that remains, according to analysts, centers around brand recognition; analysts report that SMB customers are often unaware of SAP’s offering for this target market and how the company can meet their unique business requirements.
For more details please contact Barbara Herzog ( barbara.herzog@sap.com).

Lindsay Johnson

Lindsay Johnson

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