SAP Revs Up Platform For SMB Partners


SAP's newest All-In-One solutions layer the company's own best business practices for more than two dozen verticals as well as specific user interface, reporting and analytics atop what they already offered, said Michael Sotnick, senior vice president of small, midsize enterprise business at SAP Americas, Newton Square, Pa.

In simple terms, SAP said it is giving its SMB VARs more capabilities that they can repurpose for their applications. That means partners need to write or build less of this functionality themselves.

"There's greater ease of use and superior experience and lowering of the bar on investments required by partners to rapidly develop qualified applications," Sotnick told CRN.

The push toward verticalization is a big trend among ERP vendors, with SAP and Microsoft saying they will come up the stack to raise the least common denominator of their platforms.

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The best practices, analytics and reporting layer is now available in SAP All-In-One. Some of this added functionality—including built-in CRM—comes from the company's high-end MySAP 2005 offering.

David Wasson, senior vice president of Technology Solutions Co., Chicago, said this will save TSC time and money delivering its own applications for industrial manufacturing atop All-In-One. "These new tools compress a lot of time out of moving our own product to the new suite," he said.

Wasson is particularly enthused by new functions that will allow easy demonstration of the application for clients. That combination will speed the sales and implementation process, he said. "We closed three deals in December, which is unusual, with our Edge tool atop SAP."

Added Wasson: "SAP's ERP suite delivers to us a set of configurations, a base that's tested and documented. Atop that we build additional configurations for our micro verticals."

He is pleased with SAP's SMB push. TSC used to have Oracle, PeopleSoft and Baan practices as well but shut them down to focus exclusively on SAP because of its growth potential, he said.

The SMB market is an important focus for SAP—as it is for all ERP players. Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., is focusing its Dynamics ERP applications on this segment, and Oracle, Redwood Shores, Calif., also is making a push.

SAP, which remains the ERP leader, last week said its fourth-quarter profit rose 29 percent, but software sales missed forecasts. It warned that profitability will take a hit in the next two years as it invests in the business.

Sotnick would not discuss SAP results other than this: "I can say with clarity and certainty that we had a record-breaking year in [the] small and midsize markets. We blew away the channel records in new customer adds, top-line revenue growth and customer satisfaction growth. We couldn't feel better about 2006 performance."

SAP, like Oracle, is coming down from its enterprise, direct-sales roots into a channel-friendly mode suited to smaller businesses and the midmarket. Microsoft, meanwhile, is trying to apply its volume-oriented model to the higher-touch, higher-margin model that traditionally suits ERP sales.