The purpose of the APA SAP Business Partner Summit 2004 was to familiarize the over 250 assembled attendees with SAP’s vision, strategy and solutions for the SMB market and give partners the opportunity to network and share best practices. The event brought together over 80 SAP individual business partners from more than 50 partner organizations with SAP technology partners and members of the global SAP SMB community. Partners hailed from 12 different countries including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
A head start
SAP’s executive speakers highlighted the excellent progress that has been made in strengthening the partner channel and winning new business in APA in 2003. SAP Executive Board member and President of SAP Global Field Operations, Léo Apotheker, described the successful touchdown of mySAP All-in-One – with 108 new customers, 52 new SAP Business Partners and 31 new mySAP All-in-One solutions in 2003. SAP Business One has also seen initial success as the solution emerges on the market and availability becomes more widespread.
Apotheker talked about upping the pace in 2004 and focusing on building up the revenue stream. “One of our main priorities globally in 2004 is to focus on lead generation. To achieve this, SAP will work with our business partners to generate quality leads and give the necessary support to continue to win accounts in the SMB market. Through intense sales force cooperation, partner training, and a more aggressive marketing push, we can build on our successes of 2003.”
Hans-Juergen Uhink, Senior Vice President SAP Global Field SMB, took to the floor next to talk about opportunity in the SMB market and the “superior value proposition” that SAP and its partners offer their customers. Uhink outlined the specific needs of SMB customers and matched these needs to what SAP and its partners are offering in terms of functionality, flexibility, scope, and micro-vertical coverage. “What small and midsize businesses need are individually configured standard solutions, based on proven standard application software from a solid vendor. This is offered as a micro-vertical pre-packaged solution in an SMB-adequate mode that allows them scalability and flexibility to foster actual and future challenges. This strongly differentiates us from our competitors.”
Uhink stressed the importance of creating awareness in the SMB market as IT begins to make a cautious comeback in 2004 and SMBs take another look at their IT requirements. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) was cited as an opportunity in the SMB space as companies seek greater customer intimacy. SAP will be offering solutions based on SAP Business One and mySAP CRM in the future. Pranay Mital, Head of SMB Operations for the Asia-Pacific region, was also upbeat about market opportunities maintaining that mid-market companies are now ready to invest more than ever before – good news for SAP’s value added resellers.
Spanish partner, Grupo Seidor, provided further endorsement for the SAP partnership. An SAP partner since 1998, Grupo Seidor moved into mySAP All-in-One in the last couple of years, producing 8 certified mySAP All-in-One solutions in 2003. Alejandro O’Davoren from Grupo Seidor had some interesting tips for his fellow partners. O’Davoren highlighted the importance of a strong and professional sales approach, where partners have control of the entire sales cycle and can put forward an effective value proposition. Customer intimacy was also high on the list of recommendations.
Perhaps one of the most striking elements of Grupo Seidor’s strategy, however, was its approach to solution development and its policy to ‘re-use’ wherever possible. By recycling people, knowledge, and best practices, Grupo Seidor offers its customers a fairly low-risk proposition – a solution that is already proven to work and a fast implementation. O’Davoren also echoed the message delivered by many of the SAP representatives in their presentations that mutual commitment is key to a successful partnership with SAP.
Valuable intellectual property
Brian Prentice, a senior analyst with META Group, offered participants an independent perspective on trends in SMB software design and off-shoring. Prentice commented on how these trends impact the decisions partners must make before targeting this market segment, pointing to the importance of reating ‘package-able’ intellectual property in order to create value, “Because of the impact in both the reduction of service demand and service margins, the partner community must look for new business models to take advantage of the SMB market. Taking a process-centric approach and building discrete solutions that extend a vendor’s core product offering is the secret sauce. Partners should focus on the gaps that exist in core business processes, applying these to specific industries, and looking for cross-functional ‘federated’ processes.
SAP went on to showcase its own “intellectual property” in more detail. In addition to the core solutions, mySAP All-in-One and SAP Business One, SAP product experts described a growing set of development tools that enable partners and customers to enhance and extend SAP Business One and mySAP All-in-One. mySAP All-in-One partner solutions are currently available across China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan – with the widest micro-vertical coverage currently in Japan. SAP Business One is on offer in Australia, New Zealand, and China and set to be rolled out in South Korea, Japan, and Singapore in 2004.
The last word went to Hans-Peter Klaey, President and CEO of SAP Asia-Pacific, who summed up the mood of opportunity that had characterized the entire event: “Asia-Pacific is a region where mid-market companies dominate the business landscape. In 2003, small and medium business represented two thirds of SAP Asia-Pacific’s customer wins. We will continue to focus on our customers’ and partners’ success to drive our mid-market strategy through 2004 and beyond, because we strongly believe that SAP has the right solutions for our midsize customers and a business proposition for our partners that is far superior than that of any other business applications provider – a fact reconfirmed by the several thousand SAP mid-market installations in APA.”