How Channel Partners Can Write a Profitable New Chapter in the Industry Cloud Story


I’ve spent a lot of time on the road lately, talking with SAP channel partners about their business and what it takes to thrive in an increasingly cloud-centric world.

One of the points they often raise during our conversations, regardless of the industry or geographic market they serve, is how focused they are on uncovering opportunities to diversify their business with new revenue streams and customers in new markets.

That’s when I suggest they check out the book.

Accelerate innovation to meet your industry-specific needs

The book” I refer them to isn’t on any bestseller lists. But for channel partners interested in growing their business, it’s essential reading because it highlights 40 industry cloud solutions from SAP that land right in the channel partner sweet spot. They’re ideal for midmarket customers because they are geared toward businesses with limited IT resources and budgets, and they readily integrate with the SAP solution portfolio. What’s more, they provide a huge opportunity for channel partners to fill white space in the midmarket, where SAP itself is less active, and, in doing so, can increase the value they provide to existing customers while also generating sales opportunities with new customers in different markets and industry verticals.

In fact, SAP is counting on channel partners to help fill that white space across our 25 industry verticals by bringing industry cloud solutions to their customers. That includes solutions developed by other partners as well as those they develop themselves. With SAP’s industry cloud, we’re giving channel partners an open invitation to turn their own intellectual property (IP) into a solution they can monetize by developing it on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).

During my conversations with channel partners, one of the first questions they ask is, “Will we be stepping on SAP’s toes if we use SAP BTP to develop applications specifically for midmarket clients?”

My response: quite the opposite! Our priority at SAP is to get the right solutions in the hands of customers that aren’t ideally suited to standard SAP offerings. Nobody understands how to do that better than our channel partners. Who authored the solution is secondary to the main goal of SAP’s industry cloud: giving customers what they need to succeed. One channel partner, for example, developed a smart factory solution even though the SAP Digital Manufacturing solution already exists. While both solutions cater to the same functional needs, they target entirely different customer segments. That’s exactly the kind of innovation we’re seeking from channel partners.

Another question I hear frequently: “We like the idea of monetizing our IP. But what IP do we develop, and how do we commercialize it?”

As a channel partner, there’s a good chance that in crafting solutions for your customers, you’ve developed your own IP that could bring value to other customers, perhaps in new verticals and geographic markets. As part of the collaboration-driven industry cloud mindset, SAP is redoubling efforts to provide partners with resources to help them identify and commercialize their IP.

Explore industry cloud solutions from SAP and partners

Another question they often ask me: “What about working with a partner that also happens to be a competitor of ours? How can we trust that collaborating with them won’t backfire on us?”

A valid concern, but one that the shared-risk/shared-reward structure of SAP’s industry cloud should put to rest. This ecosystem is built on co-innovation and co-opetition, where partners set aside competitive rivalries and recognize they can create more value for customers and themselves by working together. As for concerns that posting a solution on SAP Store would put their IP and code at risk, that’s not an issue either. For one thing, neither their IP nor their code is exposed on SAP Store. What’s more, SAP depends on partners to develop industry cloud solutions. We’re not interested in building everything in-house or taking ideas from partners, and we’ve put in place contractual language to protect partner IP. The same applies to other partners in the ecosystem. All our interests are aligned around helping the end customer. The result is a win-win-win for them, SAP, and our partners.

As new as this approach is, it’s understandable that channel partners would have questions about how they can benefit from industry cloud. To help put things in perspective for them, I’ll often respond to their questions with one of my own: “If you had the chance to turn all the time, effort, and intellectual property you’ve invested in your work with midmarket customers into solutions that generate new revenue streams and market opportunities, without assuming undue business risk, would you take it?”

That’s when the light bulb really turns on and they realize that with SAP’s industry cloud they can start writing success stories of their own.

To learn more about the resources SAP offers to help channel partners leverage industry cloud, explore the SAP Partner Portal site, along with this paper and this blog post. If you are an SAP partner that has developed a solution you believe should be included in “the book,” please contact me.

Finn Backer is global head of Industry Cloud Channel at SAP.

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