Sticking with a Winner Through Lean Times

GIA – Grapha Informatik AG – a Swiss solution integrator owned by the industrial holding company Muller Martini, maintains its strongest focus in the discrete manufacturing industry. Originally a developer of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for Muller Martini, GIA became an SAP partner in 1995, and the company has developed its business model around SAP since then. Besides implementation, GIA is also an SAP Hosting Partner – an area the company sees as growing strongly.
Though the entire manufacturing sector is one of those most affected by the current economic malaise, GIA expects to be able to remain profitable in the short term, says Peter Merz, GIA’s CEO. He adds that the company’s major long-term goal is to become the number one SMB partner for mySAP All-in-One solutions in Switzerland, the “One-Stop Solution Partner from consulting to outsourcing and hosting.”
By offering hosted solutions, he explains, the company can differentiate itself, since the Swiss market is highly competitive, and being able to deal with just one vendor for the whole solution spectrum makes a real difference to clients. GIA provides hosted and outsourced solutions for other platforms besides SAP, including Microsoft.

Reliability, first and foremost

Reliability is one of the main reasons that GIA chose SAP as a partner, explains Merz. In the SMB market, any investment is considered high – and the requirements are intensive, so being able to guarantee a reliable product gives GIA a leg up on the competition. SAP has also been able to grow consistently over the years, maintain its leadership position, and develop solutions that are in line with industry requirements. These pluses have garnered SAP a higher success rate than other ERP vendors: “SAP is number one in 85-90% of our named accounts,” Merz states.
The only major fly in the partnership ointment is that SAP can be misperceived by smaller companies as being too big and too expensive. Merz claims, though, that the development and marketing of mySAP All-in-One solutions should soon convince the SMB market by generating compelling customer references.

Expanding solution partnerships

GIA has partnered with the German company FIStec which had developed a mySAP All-in-One solution, FIStec Engineer, that has been adapted to the Swiss market. GIA initially considered developing its own solution, but after studying the investment involved, it seemed wiser to partner with someone else, says Merz.
A notable GIA implementation involved Howag, a holding company with subsidiaries in the cable and plastics industry. For Howag, GIA performed a fixed-price mySAP All-in-One implementation over a six-month period, to serve approximately 50 users. Merz points to strong project management on both the customer and GIA sides as a crucial element in the success of this – or any – implementation project.
Though GIA is aggressively targeting the SMB market on its own, the company looks to SAP for support in helping get its foot in the market door. SAP has provided that support in two key areas, says Merz: by insuring that product reliability remains consistently high throughout the life cycle, and by monitoring pricing policy and raising awareness of the mySAP All-in-One brand in the Swiss SMB market. For the future, however, he cautions that SAP needs to further step up market awareness of mySAP All-in-One solutions: “It is a great product for the SMB market – but the market has to hear about it and learn about it.”
Merz sees the SAP relationship as a long-term partnership, since SAP has developed a top-notch partnering model, one which provides good information and training. “Over the past year, SAP has seriously started to address and solve the issues of the SMB market and made a real effort to help us grow our business in this area,” he concludes.

Derek Davis
Derek Davis