T-Systems International GmbH is a global provider of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services. A division of Deutsche Telekom, the company is one of the leading solution providers in Europe with a strong track record in industries such as telecommunications, finance, healthcare, and manufacturing. In addition to building global corporate networks and communication solutions, T-Systems delivers worldwide IT support in the form of systems integration, computing, desktop, and network services. Based in Germany with further sites in 20 other, mainly European, locations, the company employs a staff of 43,000 and brought in revenues of Euro 10.5 billion in 2002.
T-Systems Soleri is the French arm of T-Systems International, so called because it was born out of an independent company called Soleri. T-Systems Soleri has 5 lines of business: product lifecycle management, ‘body shopping’, new technologies, desktop, and ERP. The company’s partnership with SAP dates back to 1998, when SAP France made the decision to strategically pursue the opportunities on the French SMB market. When SAP went looking for companies with knowledge of the market, it found a worthy partner in T-Systems Soleri, which was already an experienced player on the market and had a strong SMB customer base in manufacturing and financial management solutions.
The decision to partner with SAP came at a good time for T-Systems Soleri, who was dissatisfied with the effort and expense involved in assembling solutions from a variety of vendors’ products. The company was looking for an ERP product that could match all of its clients’ requirements – with comprehensive functionality and a suitable technical infrastructure, chiefly in the AS/ 400 environment. “SAP was the only vendor that had both these requirements covered.”
However, SAP still had to prove itself to T-Systems on the SMB front. T-Systems assigned a group of consultants to review SAP’s solutions. What they saw blew them away. ”They came back like they had discovered the moon. It was like magic.” T-Systems Soleri started out small with a number of minor but successful projects. The company signed its partner contract with SAP in March 1998 and by July of the same year had 3 new SMB customers. By year close, this number had grown to 7.
In 1999, T-Systems started working with pre-configured industry templates to differentiate itself from the competition. However, by 2001, this approach was becoming more commonplace and no longer offered the same unique competitive advantage. The company started looking around for a product that could bring the added competitive edge it was looking for. The dawning of mySAP All-in-One brought exactly this kind of opportunity. “With mySAP All-in-One we have a business proposition for clients, instead of an IT proposition. It suits the needs and requirements of the SMB market.”
mySAP All-in-One’s complete functionality and relatively transparent set-up also offer a distinct differentiator. The standard SMB queries on cost and complexity are not an issue. SAP support and knowledge transfer is also invaluable to T-Systems in this respect. “These questions are relatively easy to answer with the mySAP All-in-One solutions, however, we have to be involved during the whole process. Our clients have high expectations with respect to knowledge and expertise. Therefore, we have to maintain a competitive level to continue our growth in this market. SAP supports our strategy and helps us to build this knowledge and expertise.”
A sound investment
T-Systems currently has two certified mySAP All-in-One solutions – one for the Machinery and Equipment industry and the other for the Consumer Packaged Goods sector. A number of other solutions are in the pipeline including automotive, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. T-Systems combines its experience in pre-configured solutions with customer input to get the mySAP All-in-One solutions that the company sells today. “We have used all the questions our customers have asked over the past 5 years, and integrated that into our solutions.” The investment in terms of resources amounts to 300 man days per solution – the time taken to convert the pre-configured solution into a mySAP All-in-One solution. T-Systems expects each solution to pay for itself within one year.
mySAP All-in-One will play a increasingly prominent role in the future business of T-Systems Soleri as the company continues to focus on the SMB sector and cultivate the market. The company believes it is an oversight to view the SMB marketplace as an ‘add-on’ market. It aims to create a large enough pipeline of new SMB clients to serve with mySAP All-in-One solutions. Having achieved year-on-year growth of 15 percent despite difficult economic business conditions, T-Systems Soleri has set its ERP division the same target for the coming years. The company sees mySAP All-in-One as key to maintaining this growth margin. T-Systems is also reviewing possibilities for SAP Business One and is currently evaluating different sales options. The strongest opportunity at this time seems to be a channel partner strategy.
T-Systems Soleri attaches great importance to its SAP relationship and values the partnership very highly. “In general, the relationship with SAP is very good. It is based on a good understanding of each other’s business, and respect for each other’s business rules. SAP is a software vendor and they make their margin on their software products. In that respect they are very clear on their strategy.” T-Systems also commends SAP on its focus on the SMB market and its support for its SMB partners, particularly in the pre-sales arena.
When all is said and done, however, the real ‘pièce de résistance’ for T-Systems France is the added value for its customers and SAP is integral to that process. The last word goes to Konrad. F. Reiss, CEO of T-Systems International, “We create value for our clients by implementing future-proof, sustainable business cases and solutions.”