XChange 2014: SAP Ready to Work with Solution Providers, And SMEs

SAP wants to shatter the myth that it's only for the big boys.

Luciano Ravenna, the company's North America regional director, speaking Sunday evening at XChange 2014, told solution providers gathered in San Antonio, Texas, that the German cloud software vendor offers solutions to small and medium sized companies as well.

Ravenna acknowledged a lot of those companies, as well as their partners, "don’t understand what we do" and incorrectly believe the myth that SAP is only for large enterprises. He also conceded that the company's business software didn't always offer the most-elegant user interface.

But the times they are a-changing, and SAP understands the secret "is to embrace the new and don't fight for the old."

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That includes embracing the channel.

"We want you all to believe SAP is a channel supporting company with channel DNA. And we want to work with you," Ravenna told the crowd.

Paul Karch, president of Gardant Global, a Deerfield Beach, Florida solution provider, said he was impressed by SAP’s aggressive channel offensive.

’This is absolutely a different SAP,’ Karch told CRN. ’SAP used to be a hard company to do business with for the channel. This is a completely different message than I have ever heard from SAP. It is refreshing.’

Karch said he sees a ’ton of opportunity’ for solution providers teaming with SAP. ’Think about the procurement engine that SAP has created,’ he said ’If that supply chain functionality can be made available to small midsize companies it is going to open up a whole new market for the channel.’

SAP’s cloud platforms are making it easy for the channel to get into a lucrative market helping a wide variety of small to midsize enterprises including manufacturers, Karch told CRN. ’This is a potential windfall,’ he said.

Ravenna reminded his audience that 75 percent of new IT sales are going toward some sort of cloud products.

"Underpinning all of this is the ability to consume this software in the cloud," Ravenna said.

At the same time, today's workforce, he said, is increasingly comprised of millenials raised in the age of mobility who want solutions as simple to use as an iPhone.

"Mobile is the de facto user interface and user experience for the enterprise, for the consumer and for millenials," Ravenna said.

The company's vision for its technology, enabling real-time insights into transactional data with powerful analytics, is to be just as simple as a mobile device.

Ravenna touted a simplified new user experience that implements what the company's customers say they want.

"Many years ago they tried to do lipstick on a pig. This new user interface is the real deal," Ravenna said, citing the Fiori suite of apps.

"We've asked the customers what the screen should look like," he said, adding all the company's applications and analytics have been transformed to run on the HANA platform.

The results of that new outlook and strategy is to "make it easier for partners to work with us" and implement industry leading solutions for human resources, business sourcing, and ERP.

Ravenna also noted that SAP has a North American CEO for the first time in its history, and he understands the channel. "Hence the acquisitions, the change, the way we're meeting customer demands."

There's money to be made by partners who service small and medium-sized enterprises, he said.

We know that without the partners of all types," there are so many different ways we can work with you." Many programs to get involved with SAP.

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