SAP Exec To Partners: Huge Incremental Revenue Opportunities Ahead

SAP's global channel chief Monday exhorted the company's partners to work with the vendor's cloud software and HANA in-memory database, saying those "transformative technologies" offer solution providers unprecedented opportunities.

"The opportunity in incremental revenue for you is huge," said Eric Duffaut, SAP president and corporate officer, global ecosystems and channels. "You, as partners, can leverage these transformative technologies. You have the best solution in your hands," he said in a keynote speech Monday evening at the start of the company's Sapphire Now conference.

Duffaut also said SAP is developing a partner program specifically around the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service the company unveiled last week. A company spokesperson said more details of that initiative would be disclosed later in the conference.

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While SAP is best known for its ERP application suites for small, midsize and enterprise customers, the company in recent years has moved aggressively into new technology areas including mobile computing, the HANA in-memory database for big data chores, and cloud computing options for its applications.

Those technologies are expected to be a major focus for SAP, its customers and its partners throughout this week's Sapphire Now show in Orlando, Fla.

Duffaut bragged about SAP's technology offerings, sprinkling his speech with such comments as "We have market momentum" and "We have, as a company, anticipated the transformation of our industry."

But he also repeatedly emphasized the role channel partners play in SAP's future success. "We, as a company, more and more depend on you," he said, noting that the company has doubled its indirect sales in just two years. He said more than 34 percent of the company's software revenue is through partner-led sales (the number was closer to 38 percent in this year's first quarter) as it closes in on its goal of the channel accounting for 40 percent of software revenue by 2015.

"We cannot do it alone. It's simply impossible," Duffaut said of the company's reliance on the channel to meet its goals. "Our ecosystem has the power to take us to new heights."

The channel executive urged partners to "be relevant" in competitive markets by combining their vertical industry expertise with SAP's technologies. That, he said, would lead to "the greatest level of innovation" and opportunities for growth.

NEXT: Opportunities To Combine SAP's New Technologies With Core ERP Applications

Some channel partners have worried that SAP is devoting so much attention to its cloud technologies and HANA that it risks losing its edge in its core ERP applications. But Anthony de la Fuente, vice president of sales at Idhasoft, an Irvine, Calif.-based SAP partner, says the products are intertwined.

While SAP remains an ERP application vendor at heart, de la Fuente said, technologies such as cloud and HANA "drastically simplify the IT infrastructure" for companies running SAP products such as its Business Suite and All-in-One applications. Idhasoft, in fact, is working with a customer to implement All-in-One on HANA, de la Fuente said in an interview after Duffaut's speech.

HANA is a technology "that we see becoming more and more important," said Eric Renouard, global SAP technology lead for Accenture, also a major SAP partner. The in-memory database is so ground-breaking that it can lead to major changes in a company's business processes and data models -- something that Accenture is very good at, Renouard said. "It gives us an opportunity to go into a company and really transform their business. It's very exciting for us," he said, also speaking in an interview.

Duffaut also commented on changes within the channel itself, observing that "the lines are blurring" between systems integrators, VARs and ISVs. "There are many roles you can embrace," he urged.