Going Dutch in the Netherlands

Blue4You, located near Rotterdam, was founded in 2003 to provide SAP Business One solutions to the SMB market. Its three directors had already built up name and awareness based on their expertise in the trade and retail sector.
Arjen Cornelisse, CEO of Blue4You, estimates that there are some 320 smaller software providers in the Netherlands and many SMB clients have faced their providers going bankrupt or being consolidated over the past year. Working with SAP Business One has helped his company improve its position despite competition from other SAP Business One partners, because each has its own geographic area or area of expertise. “Our clients choose an SAP solution, but an important element in the decision process is that Blue4You is there to support them with the process,” he says.
Though the partnership with SAP is still in its infancy, Blue4You has already felt the benefit from SAP’s status as an organization that represents quality, reliability, and solidity. Blue4You has already attracted eight clients – and expects to add another 25 this year. A growing factor of importance is the continuity that a large organization such as SAP offers. Blue4You receives most of its revenues from its consulting practice, but the reselling of licenses is also crucial for growth and revenue.
Initially, the company plans to expand its personnel by hiring freelance consultants. When the business becomes more established, it will start hiring in-house personnel, since the training of consultants is a heavy burden on profits.

No “Mickey Mouse” here

Cornelisse says the SAP Business One solution can cover most of the functionality needed by an SMB. From a technical perspective, it makes a good proposition as well. “The look and feel, compared to other products, is a lot better and much more professional and business-like,” he adds. “Compared to SAP Business One, the others come across as ‘Mickey Mouse’ products.” Another advantage is that it is a single product – no additional modules are necessary.
The company has had no problems with the technical requirements or the functionality of SAP Business One, but Cornelisse stresses that it requires a different sales approach, since clients on the SMB market face different business issues. From a reseller perspective, the company needs to be especially aware of the clients’ business issues.
Blue4You has not yet developed additional functionality for SAP Business One, and the creation of new interfaces is a low priority. And although Cornelisse notes that the product can be expanded, he cautions that SAP should be careful not to add too much functionality. The clients his company sells to like the product as it is, and too many options may simply make the decision process more difficult. Blue4You will enhance or expand functionality only if a client requests it.
Blue4You has completed several successful projects with SAP Business One. The first involved In Win Development, Inc., a manufacturer of a broad range of desktop computer and server chassis, switching power supplies, and card readers for vendors such as NEC and Packard Bell. The company is headquartered in Taiwan and its European headquarters in Rotterdam includes eight employees in sales and administration. Logistics are still outsourced, but there are plans to move that to Rotterdam as well. Blue4You was contracted to complete the In Win Development project within 12 days for a fixed price per day. In fact, the implementation took 15 days, but since this was the company’s first project, the three extra days were looked on as learning days.

Gaining clients

The company plans to gain 25 new clients in 2004. Prospects include current or former customers of Exact, an SMB provider for whom two of the founders previously worked. The Bue4You website serves as an important marketing tool, receiving 400 hits a day. SAP’s radio commercial campaign in the Netherlands has also generated calls asking for more information.
So far, SAP has provided the company with good support and solid, qualified leads, says Cornelisse. “We have never doubted whether SAP would be able to support us with marketing – we always assumed SAP would help.” Blue4You’s own marketing budget is oriented toward sponsoring or attending seminars and events to gain name recognition.
A few issues still need to be resolved to get to a mature and seasoned partnership, he notes. Since training and knowledge of the Software Development Kit (SDK) are centered exclusively in Germany, it is difficult to find training support or SDK expertise in the Netherlands. And SAP provides so much general information that it is hard to ascertain what is really important.
On the other hand, he is enthusiastic about the excellent support the company receives from the SAP support center in Ireland. “In general, support from SAP has made all the difference compared to other vendors,” he adds. “SAP is perceived as truly professional, returning calls on time, taking part in the thinking process, providing technical support and sales support when necessary.”
SAP joined the Blue4You team on their first prospect visit, he recalls, and did a first-class job there. “If I needed them tomorrow, I would not hesitate to call them immediately,” he says. In general, he sees the alliance with SAP as a true partnership, with mutual respect and mutual goals.

Derek Davis
Derek Davis