In his opening speech, Member of the SAP Executive Board with responsibility for Global Field Operations Léo Apotheker marked out the framework for success on the SMB market in the future. He stated that, compared to 2003, general economic conditions had improved and the upturn was extremely noticeable. According to Apotheker, this is an excellent opportunity for SAP and its partners to boost market shares with its SAP Business One and its mySAP All-in-One industry solutions.
Strengthening the partners’ strategic role
Apotheker made mention of the market opportunities for SAP and its partners in Eastern Europe, particularly in the new EU accession countries. All in all, he is looking to acquire around 5,600 new customers for SAP SMB solutions in 2004. He believes this objective can be achieved through a process of mutual and intensive exchange of industry and IT knowledge between SAP and its partners, and among the partners themselves. Apotheker compared this interaction to a game of chess, where every figure has a certain role, but where it is ultimately the coordinated action between every piece that leads to success. And concrete proof of progress toward the SAP Executive Board Member’s call for action could be seen at the beginning of the second day of the summit, with various partner companies, including United Planet, Novaline and Straton IT-Consulting, presenting their add-on solutions for SAP Business One.
The Partner Awards presented by SAP to recognize and reward exceptional performance offered further proof of the key role that partners play in a successful sales strategy on the SMB market. Winners of the award for the most successful acquisition of new customers included Spanish firm Grupo Seidor (mySAP All-in-One) with 45 new customers and DDD Gruppen from Denmark (SAP Business One) with 61 new customers. And the companies who achieved the highest sales in their first year as SAP Business Partners – Xamai from Mexico (mySAP All-in-One) with 25 new customers and BizTeam A/S from Denmark (SAP Business One) with 39 new customers – also received an award. Other prize winners included Portuguese company ACEPLUS and German companies Straton IT-Consulting and AC-Service subsidiary Process Partner. What’s more, the award for the most successful salespeople showed that personal commitment can pay off financially. Winners Gonzalo Velasco of Xamai and Hendrik Pedersen of DDD Gruppen each received a check for Euro 10,000.
Successfully exploiting growth potential
The participants largely pointed to the large number of newly acquired customers as a sign of a new wave of willingness to invest among SMBs. “The SMB market,” said Hans-Jürgen Uhink, Senior Vice President with responsibility for SMB Global Field Operations at SAP, “is the market with the highest growth rates.” At the Budapest summit, Uhink discussed the various different possibilities for harnessing this growth potential. Companies in the small to midsize business arena are looking for high-performance software from a highly qualified, reliable provider at low price points, said Uhink. And the SAP manager stressed that, in this respect, reliable partnerships between SAP and its partners are crucial for future business success. The goal must be to leverage the SAP SMB solutions to significantly lower the TCO (total cost of ownership) for the customer. According to Uhink, this also includes cutting sales and integration costs to an even greater extent in the future.
SAP Executive Board Member Shai Agassi said in a video message that SAP Business One would in future become more user-friendly and clearer so as to ensure the maximum possible benefit for customers. And in a speech on the afternoon of the first day, which was particularly well received by participants, Gadi Shamia, Vice President Solution Management at SAP Labs, spoke of some of the innovations contained in the new release. SAP Business One will include, among other features, new online help capabilities and an e-learning curriculum. It will also be available with the Sybase ASE and IBM DB 2 databases. What’s more, said Shamia, companies will in future be able to manage all available add-ons by means of an SDK (software development kit).
Market knowledge guarantees success
Jürgen Kleinsteuber, Vice President Business One SMB Global Field at SAP, and Jesper Lindhardt, Vice President, mySAP All-in-One SMB Global Field Operations, stressed in their presentations that only accurate knowledge of customer needs and the relevant markets/sectors will guarantee joint success. According to Lindhardt, it all comes down to identifying the requirements of specific sub-industries, industry segments and niche markets and providing them with optimal levels of service – an aspect that Gartner analyst Robert Anderson also highlighted. By implementing corporate software, SMBs are looking to cut costs, improve customer loyalty and increase sales. And they will achieve these goals if the software meets the relevant industry specifics, such as business models and processes, through pre-defined best practices.
At the start of the second day, Alejandro Daniel, General Manager of Spanish company Grupo Seidor, gave practical examples to illustrate how his company successfully operates on the market as an SAP partner. Daniel said, “Starting in Catalonia, we have grown and gradually expanded our geographical reach and we now serve the entire Spanish market.” According to him, the key to market success lies in a clear focus on the SMB market, the necessary industry knowledge, verifiable customer references and comprehensive sales and service offerings for the SAP Business One and mySAP All-in-One industry solutions. “Our customers are totally satisfied with our services, as has been evidenced by a study we commissioned,” explained Daniel. His company’s success on the market, he adds, can be traced back to precisely this.
Communication platform for partners
The participating partner companies from more than 40 different countries were greatly inspired by the presentations and discussions at the two-day event and, in particular, left “with a lot of motivation for the rest of the year,” said Ulrich Heep, spokesman for the Straton IT-Consulting Board of Management. “With all its presentations and discussions, the event is a good platform for communication which enables participants to exchange ideas and opinions both with other partners and representatives from SAP,” continued Heep. Otto Hess, Head of Sales at AC-Service, also described the Budapest summit as being “crucial for the direct exchange of information. The successful evening event at the end of the first day of the summit played a large part in this,” said Hess, summarizing his positive experiences at the conference.