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While SAP's evolution into a more channel-focused company has been underway for several years, the transition accelerated in early 2010 when channel veteran Kevin Gilroy was named to oversee the vendor's North American channel operations. Gilroy spent two years building up the North American channel program, including implementing a "comp-neutral" compensation plan for the company's sales force to reduce channel conflict, and increasing spending on channel-related marketing initiatives.
"They didn't understand the partner model a few years ago," said WCI's Carney. "They've done a great job of opening up new territories for us and developing new policies to work with their partners. They now understand that they can scale up only so much with their direct sales and the best way to scale is to bring in channel partners."
"The strategic changes they've made are significant," agreed Prashant Jain, senior vice president at Sparta Consulting, in a phone interview with CRN. Sparta Consulting, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider, works with SAP Business All-in-One and Business Objects. He cites changes in SAP's organizational structure and sales incentive plans to make the company more channel-friendly – changes that have led to SAP and Sparta working together on several $5-million deals.
In January Gilroy was promoted to lead SAP's global indirect channel efforts, essentially tasked with building worldwide the kind of programs he implemented in North America.
"My goal at the global level will be to add value to the regions; regions like [North America] are my customer. And I'm going to listen to them, listen to the partners, listen to the employee base, and understand what we need to deliver for the 21st century channel model," Gilroy said at the time.
John Graham, a 10-year SAP veteran, was named to take over Gilroy's North American channel executive post.
Many of SAP's solution provider partners today resell SAP's Business One and/or Business All-in-One application packages for small and midsize businesses, respectively. In North America SAP appears satisfied with the number of Business All-in-One partners it has today. But, Gilroy has said that expanding the channel for Business One is one of his priorities.