SAP Cloud Exec: Not Much Has Gone Right With Business ByDesign

The changes unveiled Tuesday at SAP's Sapphire Now conference are the first significant moves taken by Lars Dalgaard, who was put in charge of the vendor's cloud computing efforts in February. Dalgaard, founder and CEO of SuccessFactors, came to SAP with the acquisition of the developer of cloud-based human capital management applications.

While SAP is believed to have about 1,000 customers using Business ByDesign, the company has struggled to gain significant market traction with the product, both since its initial launch in 2007 and when it was relaunched in late 2010 after a technology overhaul. While SAP hosts the product, it largely relies on channel partners to sell it.

[Related: Partners See Progress In SAP's Evolution Into A Channel-Friendly Company ]

In a press conference Tuesday, Dalgaard praised Business ByDesign's technology. "Business By Design is a powerhouse," he said, adding, "Right now it's selling."

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The blunt-speaking executive, however, was critical of SAP's efforts to market and sell the product.

"It just hasn't been marketed right, it hasn't been positioned right, it hasn't been explained right, people haven't been trained right on it, people haven't been given [needed] tools. There isn't much about it that I can explain that's gone right in terms of go-to-market. And that's what I know how to do," Dalgaard said.

"Business ByDesign is a continuing, important investment for us," he said, vowing to devote more resources to fix the product's marketing programs. He specifically cited lackluster efforts to publicize Business ByDesign customer success stories.

In a statement SAP said Business ByDesign would now be targeted specifically at financial business processes and professional services.

SAP also made a number of cloud-related announcements Tuesday.

The company has integrated SuccessFactors' operations with its own, including combining the SAP and SuccessFactors development teams, to create SAP's new 5,000-person cloud business unit, Dalgaard said.

For large corporations the company is assembling a "loosely coupled suite" of multitenant cloud applications. The SuccessFactors human capital management applications, including its core Employee Central platform, are now part of SAP's cloud application lineup. And SAP's cloud-based payroll application has been integrated with Employee Central.

The company debuted SAP Financials OnDemand, a set of cloud applications for managing core financial tasks such as order-to-cash and invoice-to-pay processes. The product is based on software code pulled from the core of the Business ByDesign financial applications, Dalgaard said. And the new SAP Social Customer Engagement OnDemand application, for adding social media such as Facebook and Twitter to marketing initiatives, is now generally available, according to the company.

The company also said it is developing new releases of cloud applications it already markets, including SAP Travel OnDemand, SAP Sales OnDemand, SAP Sourcing OnDemand and SAP Information Interchange OnDemand.