“In the ERP market, people know the SAP brand. People had the perception that it was expensive, but it’s no longer the case,” says Tan Kok Pin, managing director of Selatan Technology, when alluding to SAP Business One. “I first saw SAP Business One last year, and thought it was an excellent product. As I’ve got to know more about it, I’ve never looked back,” he adds.
Indeed, SAP Business One comes with a very attractive price tag. Entry level implementations begin at less than RM 100,000 (approx. Euro 20,000) for five users, and includes planning, implementation, and after sales training and support for one full year, as well as annual maintenance — probably something that’s unheard of in the ERP market. But it certainly takes more than just a good product at the right price to win over customers. Tan related an instance where Selatan Technology bid for a project against five contenders. “Out of the six companies, four of them represented products from one particular company. So, how do you differentiate yourself?” he asks rhetorically.
Tan claims that the answer lies in the ability to work in a vertical, specialized area. Having been around for eight years, Selatan Technology has built up a network of developers specializing in creating vertical solutions. “My value to SAP customers is my ability to work with niche developers. And I can go to the market very effectively, as I can plug in any solution easily,” he says.
“It’s easy for me to work with people in areas of specialization, for example, point-of-sales systems, warehousing and salesforce automation. These solutions can be easily integrated with SAP Business One in most situations,” adds Tan.
To be sure, Selatan Technology has extensive in-house competencies and resources — a key selling point for Tan when representing SAP Business One. “For example, when you deploy applications, you need to consider the infrastructure. If you outsource, you’ll probably end up doing a lot of finger pointing when things go wrong. That’s why I decided to hire the best people and run this competency ourselves.”
Tan says that although SAP Business One is relatively simple to use for many midmarket businesses, as a SAP Business Partner Selatan Technology is committed to ensure that a helping hand is always within reach for business owners in the event that they need guidance.
First impressions count
It was virtually love at first sight for Richard Liau, director of Croesus IT Solutions, when he first came across SAP Business One. Bowled over by the price and powerful yet easy to use functionalities in this new offering, it didn’t take long for Liau to decide that he wanted to become a SAP business partner. A qualified SAP R/3 consultant, Liau knew straight away the immense potential for SAP Business One in the largely untapped midmarket. Croesus IT Solutions was subsequently founded and SAP Business One became the product that the company championed.
“The initial reaction from the public was, ‘What, RM 99,000 for five users? SAP? No way!’” Liau recalls when SAP Business One was first shown to the local midmarket companies at an exhibition. “And when we did a demo, they saw that it was running off a notebook with no wires. They asked, ‘Is that possible?’”
“I think that’s quite an exciting price for the market. Understandably, it’s a little bit of a pleasant surprise for some midmarket enterprises but for the ones who’ve been around and very established, they’re suitably impressed with such an offering from SAP,” says Liau.
Liau contends that SAP Business One is ideal for growing businesses. “Most of the time, you find company founders working alone, looking after the business. But once the company grows to 30 or 40 people, they often get stressed out because they’re used to getting every piece of paper run by them,” he says.
With SAP Business One, managers don’t need to be consulted for every single decision. For example, traditionally when the sales clerk wanted to offer a discount, it required the express approval of a manager. “Now, it’s all controlled electronically. This means that managers have more time to go out and look for business opportunities,” he explains. Liau believes that much effort is still required in educating the midmarket. Nonetheless, he gives credit to SAP for extensive investments in creating market awareness prior to the official launch of the product in Malaysia.
Being a sales and service partner, Croesus typically obtains leads from SAP or generates its own leads. “We do the first and second demo, follow-up, and so on. Once the client decides to go with SAP Business One, we will do the strategic planning, implementation and after sales support,” he reveals. An accountant by training, Liau naturally has an uncanny ability to convince his customers on the real benefits of SAP Business One. “I can speak the same language as the business owners.”
Meanwhile, Liau already has two implementations under his belt. “The first one is a medical supplies distributor, and the second one is in the plantation and properties sector, which will be up and running very soon,” he says.