Cooperation Amid Competition

Zero 1 AG, a Swiss provider of mySAP All-in-One solutions, received SAP technical certification in 1998 and became a reseller and implementer of SAP solutions in 2002. The company, with four locations worldwide, has experienced year-to-year growth of 20 percent on average.
The firm has developed a mySAP All-in-One solution, called zLab, being rolled out in Switzerland and later to be expanded into the European market. Zero 1 has also adapted a German SAP-certified solution for manufacturing and services for the Swiss SMB market. A joint campaign running with SAP and IBM offers other SMB packages, including financing deals with IBM Global Finance.
Developing and buying mySAP All-in-One solutions has involved an investment for Zero 1 estimated at about Euro one million. However, Bruno Schmid, CEO of Zero 1, looks at the overall impact on their business as highly positive.

Working to a deadline

A Zero 1 implementation for chip manufacturer Swisstronics Ltd. had a make-or-break goal of “getting SAP up and running on all modules within four months,” Schmid recalls. Swisstronics was formed when Siemens Switzerland Ltd. sold its electronic manufacturing department to a group of investors. One condition of this spin-off was that the new company would have its own enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution functioning on May 1, the day the transaction took place.
The project started in early January. By early February, using the mySAP All-in-One template provided by Zero 1, business processes, interfaces, and migration paths had been defined and future users were educated on Swisstronics’ test system. Easter holidays were cancelled for the project team, and the project went live as scheduled at the end of April.
The SAP systems are managed and monitored for Swisstronics by Zero 1 under a systems management contract. Schmid believes this guarantees a stable and reliable systems environment at the lowest possible operational cost.

Partner, competitor

SAP has a very strong customer base in Switzerland and provides Zero 1 with easy access to it, he adds, as well as easy access to SAP experts. At the same time, he sees a healthy level of competition with SAP on the services side. “To be an SAP partner means that you need to share information – even if there is a danger that SAP could take that information and use it competitively,” he concedes. He does not consider the prospect of a certain level of competition to be disturbing, rather it helps keep the company focused on the job at hand. And being situated in the same building as SAP certainly doesn’t hurt the company or the cooperative effort.
“We offer services to the market, therefore we need to build these services around a partner who is innovative, creative and reliable,” he explains further. SAP, he says, is one of the few vendors that is knowledgeable about business procedures on the SMB market and able to create demand through its marketing efforts. SAP provides solutions for the long term, he goes on, combining leading-edge technology with a breadth of know-how: “Any successful SMB has to consider SAP solutions. The functionality is very good, and the pricing is attractive and negotiable.”

Market visibility

Zero 1 has improved its visibility on the SMB market through direct marketing campaigns and special initiatives, either on its own or in conjunction with SAP. SAP enables Zero 1 to work with other SAP partners, like IBM, through the SAP partner network, says Schmid. Though the company feels that SAP training and education are quite expensive, they tend to pay for themselves in the end through the opportunities and leads that the partnership generates.
“Partnering is an investment, since you need to train and certify the right consultants,” Schmid explains. “When they introduce new products, you need to obtain the know-how. This know-how costs money.” But an investment in training and certification makes the firm more competitive and benefits its employees, including 60 consultants, all of whom must have at least three to four years’ SAP experience and education.
“At the moment, many workers are insecure about their future,” he says. “In this extremely competitive environment, it’s important that they are part of a good, solid network. Our employees feel that SAP can offer that secure network.”
The current Zero 1 strategic objective is to build a 20 percent share for SAP all-in-one solutions through pro-active market penetration combined with a greater involvement in the decision-making process at clients’ sites.
Potential projects are still lurking, Schmid indicates, they are just more difficult to get to: “We notice that the sales cycle has changed, so we need to place a higher emphasis on the sales effort than ever before. We need well-trained and qualified sales people. SAP supports us really well in the sales cycle,” a level of tactical support he is confident will continue.

Derek Davis
Derek Davis