SAP Monday debuted an updated release of its SAP Business ByDesign on-demand applications with a new development toolkit that channel partners and ISVs can use to build add-on applications.
The new release, Business ByDesign feature pack 2.6, also offers financial consolidation capabilities for large companies with subsidiaries and extends support for mobile devices beyond the Apple iPhone to include Apple's iPad and RIM BlackBerry smartphones.
SAP struggled for several years to bring Business ByDesign to market before making the on-demand applications generally available in the U.S. last July with the 2.5 release. Monday the company said it now has approximately 250 customers subscribing to the Business ByDesign service and expects that number to grow to "several hundred" by May.
Business ByDesign is targeted toward the lower end of the midmarket (for companies with between 50 and 500 employees) and SAP is counting heavily on channel partners to sell the service. About 50 solution provider resellers are carrying Business ByDesign and another 40 ISVs are developing add-on applications for the service, said Chris Horak, global head of solution marketing for Business ByDesign, in an interview.
SAP's goal is to increase the percentage of Business ByDesign sales through the channel every year, Horak said, although he declined to disclose current sales statistics.
NEXT: What's New In 2.6
Going forward, SAP plans to deliver updates to Business ByDesign twice a year with the feature pack 3.0 currently scheduled for availability in August.
Horak said SAP also continues to expand the geographical availability of Business ByDesign, adding Austria, Canada and Switzerland to the U.S. and other countries where the Software-as-a-Service application set is offered.
About 80 percent of modifications needed to tailor Business ByDesign for customers, including customizing the user interface, building forms and creating reports, can be done without programming. The new Business ByDesign software development kit (SDK), based on Microsoft Visual Studio, "opens up opportunities for our ecosystem [partners] to develop add-on applications and to customize and adapt the applications to their particular markets," Horak said.
"Now we have the capability to do the custom content development that every customer needs," said Alan Fang, chief operating officer at ERP Logic, an Irving, Tex.-based solution provider that resells Business ByDesign and provides implementation, consulting and business process re-engineering services. "There's a lot of peripheral business processes we'll have to accommodate."
Fang said an add-on application developed for one customer could be offered to others, creating a recurring business. ERP Logic particularly caters to growing SMB businesses in the consumer packaged goods industry and Business ByDesign fits perfectly with the solution provider's customer base, he said.
With the new financial consolidation capabilities, companies can use Business ByDesign to operate their subsidiaries and consolidate the financial data with SAP Business Suite applications running in the company headquarters.
Along with currently supporting iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry devices, SAP plans to support Android and Windows Phone 7 devices in the feature pack 3.0 release. Solution providers also have the option of building native mobile applications that run Web services from Business ByDesign and build mobile applications using the new Business ByDesign toolkit.
The 2.6 release also adds sales and financial planning scenarios to the software's analytics capabilities that run on SAP's in-memory computing technology.