Starting next week, SAP's direct sales force will begin selling the company's BusinessObjects Edge line of business intelligence applications for small and midsize organizations, a product line that until now was sold almost exclusively by the vendor's channel partners.
SAP executives said the company's sales representatives would sell mainly to larger named accounts with which they had a previous relationship and that channel conflict would be minimal. Jeff Stiles, senior vice president of SME marketing, also said the vendor's deal-registration system would help reduce potential conflict.
Business Objects launched the Edge series of business intelligence software in 2007, targeting small and midsize customers. SAP has continued to expand the Edge product line since it acquired Business Objects early last year.
While SAP's sales representatives will begin carrying the Edge software April 15, the majority of Edge customers will continue to be managed by SAP channel partners, Stiles said. SAP roughly defines midmarket companies as those with between 100 and 1,000 employees, or annual sales of $50 million to $500 million. SAP sales representatives will sell Edge software to customers at the high end of that range. Stiles said channel partners also have the opportunity to sell to customers with annual sales of $500 million to $1 billion.
On Tuesday, SAP began shipping release 3.1 of the Edge line, adding the company's Polestar data-navigation and visualization tool, new performance management packages and new data-integration capabilities to the mix.
Channel partners said the addition of Polestar is a major boost to the Edge line. Polestar, which Business Objects debuted last year, is a data-navigation application that helps users explore information and answer business questions using keyword search technology.
"It allows end users to truly interrogate their data," said Dennis Kause, executive vice president of Idhasoft, a Norcross, Ga.-based solution provider and long-time Business Objects channel partner. He said customers have been asking for capabilities that increase user adoption of BI tools and that Polestar provides those capabilities.
"Polestar really is revolutionary technology," Kause said. "The introduction of Polestar for the Edge packages will provide significant value."
SAP is also adding integration kits to the Edge line for linking the software to Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel applications. Edge software also now supports Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and SharePoint Server 2008.
Support for the latest SharePoint Server will make it easier to integrate the Edge software with SharePoint portals, something Idhasoft customers have been seeking, Kause said.
In addition, SAP is adding a number of enterprise performance management packages for SMBs to the Edge line, including Edge Strategy Management for aligning company strategies with execution, and Edge Planning and Consolidation for creating and monitoring financial budgets.