At the start of the proceedings, Hans-Jürgen Uhink, Senior Vice President Global Field Small and Midsize Business at SAP, explained that a rapid economic upswing – in the near future at least – was unlikely. This would not only affect international companies like SAP, it would also put small and midsize businesses in a particularly challenging situation regarding the future role of information technology. Hans-Jürgen Uhink went on to explain that in this situation, SAP and its partners needed to promote understanding of IT in SMBs and to identify problems and requirements before they become urgent. According to Mr. Uhink, the challenges facing SMBs include internal pressures caused by e.g. an inflexible and non-scalable “patchwork of solutions” and replacing an old IT system. He referred to external pressures too caused either by the new Basel II regulations or the highly competitive market.
Mr. Uhink sees the SMB market as an excellent opportunity for SAP to achieve even greater success. This is because small and midsize businesses are looking for professional and reliable software partners who can offer them solutions that are both scalable and cost-effective. With mySAP All-in-One and SAP Business One, SAP perfectly meets these requirements. However, the SAP manager also reminded the small and midsize business partners and sellers of SAP products that it is important to get to know customers properly. Only if you know your target group well, he adds, can you really focus on meeting its needs.
Strategic inclusion of partners
Also speaking in Vienna, Léo Apotheker, Member of the Executive Board of SAP responsible for Global Field Operations, examined the important role of the business partners. He explained that investments in the SMB market so far have been among the best strategic decisions which SAP has taken in its 30-year history. The business partners played a very important role in this SMB strategy, he explained, because they were the ones who bridged the final stage to the customer. According to Mr. Apotheker, the objective now and for the future is to work together to gradually expand the market share already achieved. Via a system of give and take, SAP offers its partners a win-win situation which helps them to market the new solutions even better. Mr. Apotheker named 2005 as the target year, by which time SAP plans to be earning 15 per cent of its sales from income from small and midsize businesses.
Building up a network of partners
SAP is planning to build up a global partner network in order to come closer to the company’s vision of an extremely profitable “midmarket channel strategy”, said Jürgen Kleinsteuber, Vice President SAP Business One, in his speech on the afternoon of the first day. The awards presented to several partners underlined the international focus of the SAP partner strategy. Winners of the prize, which was awarded in five categories, included TopManage de Panamá, the Spanish company Grupo Seidor and YUMA from Poland. The latter two companies received awards in two categories (Best Salesperson and Best Business Partner).
Gonzalo Terrasa of the Spanish INSA Group presented an international success story in the form of the domestic Spanish ceramics industry. The introduction of the industry solution mySAP All-in-One, he stated, once again gave SAP a strategic advantage over its competitors. Gonzalo Terrasa demonstrated that even a market that SAP believed lost can be won back by a partner with specific industry knowledge. In terms of expandability and scalability, mySAP All-in-One is made-to-measure for the industry-specific needs of the customers, said Mr. Terrasa, and that’s what makes it so successful.
At the end of the two days and after numerous speeches, the participating partners gave a positive summing up. Walter Landolt, Marketing Manager at SLI Consulting AG from Switzerland, was particularly impressed with “SAP’s obvious commitment to the SMB market”, which came across in the speeches and reports. “The exchange of ideas with SAP representatives and the other partners who attended was very valuable,” he added. Jochen Clemens, Managing Director of Weber Datentechnik GmbH from Pforzheim in Germany, said the congress was “very important” for his company. “We were able to have constructive discussions with many partners and SAP managers. The congress and the evening event at the end of the first day provided an excellent framework in which to do this,” he concluded.