SAP SME World Tour focuses on operational, cash management efficiencies small enterprises can implement to combat global downturn

JohannesburgThe African leg of the SAP SME World Tour drew to a conclusion in Johannesburg this week (Wednesday, 27 May), with more than 350 partners and customers attending the roadshow intended to demonstrate SAP’s capabilities in this market space.

“Despite 75% of our business being generated in the SME space, there is a lingering perception that our solutions are aimed only at large enterprises or companies with seemingly limitless financial resources,” says Derek Kudsee, SME Director for SAP Africa. “Nothing could be further from the truth and the event was all about dispelling that myth.”

The SAP World Tour is an annual event that traverses the globe, addressing key markets in which SAP is active and in which it aims to grow its market share. The 2009 event builds on the success of last year’s World Tour to South Africa that was held in November in Johannesburg. The programme was expanded this year to include Cape Town, Durban, Lagos in Nigeria, culminating in Johannesburg. In total, 1 500 SAP customers and partners attended the events.

“The key message we are sending to the market is that SAP is a viable, reliable and surprisingly affordable business process engineering solution that companies of practically any size can implement to improve the efficiency of their operation,” explains Kudsee.

Guest speaker at the event, Eric Duffaut, who is SAP’s Executive Vice-President, SME Sales and Channels, says the vendor’s strong position in the SME market is one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.

“We have 64 000 customer globally who fall within the SME classification, placing us as the leader in this market by quite a large margin,” he says. “The SME market is therefore a key pillar of SAP’s strategy and we have put the structures and solutions in place to take full advantage of that.”

Duffaut says globalisation has played a prominent role in exposing many SMEs to competition from the large, international players in their industry verticals, thereby placing the smaller players under considerable pressure to up their game.

“This has forced SMEs to look at their internal processes and find ways to be more competitive and consider growth strategies to combat the increased competition from the bigger guys. By implementing any of the solutions aimed at this market, that immediately gives them an edge they may not have had previously.

“Most importantly in the current business climate, companies are looking to reinvent themselves so they can emerge stronger and better positioned, and this can be achieved by realising business process improvements resulting from implementing SAP.”

Duffaut says many a successful company has had to reinvent itself by adopting a forward-looking view on its IT requirements and systems, and that it is easier and better to adopt these kinds of changes while the business is still small.

Demonstrating the value that SAP can bring to the SME market, Kudsee explains that the financial crisis has led companies to concentrate on their cashflow and debtors books more closely as access to finance from traditional sources have dried up.

“The challenge for many companies lies in recovering their income fast enough so they can continue to grow, or even simply to stay in the game. By implementing a debtors module, companies can gain immediate transparency and a view across the organisation that will help them identify bottlenecks and introduce appropriate interventions,” he says.

SAP Africa Managing Director Pfungwa Serima is upbeat about the opportunities in the SME market across the continent and sees continued strong growth.

“I believe that 80% of our opportunities lie in this market, and is therefore critical to us. I think Africa is now ready as we are seeing opportunities like never before.”


SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software(*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 82 000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol “SAP”. For more information, visit http://www.sap.com.

(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning and related applications.

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