SAP gears up for SME push

SAP gears up for SME push

Business applications vendor talks up SME chances after launching a new programme for its Business-All-in-One software

SAP has encountered difficulties in repositioning itself for the SME market but has predicted its software-as-a-service (SaaS) expertise will enable it to increase its market share over the next three years.

Last month SAP launched the ‘Fast Start’ programme for its Business All-in-One software. The software features services such as customer relationship management, supply chain management and supplier relationship management and the Fast Start programme aims to enable SMEs in the manufacturing, services and trade industries to utilise industry-specific features.

Donal Madden, SAP's SME channel manager, said: "We have tried to reposition ourselves as SME friendly. There has been a huge push of company marketing activities to raise awareness of SAP.

"I think the most obvious barrier is that SAP is famous for selling into multi-nationals. If I am honest, when an SME is putting together a shortlist (of companies to work with), SAP might not be at the top. But we are doing a lot to be more relevant to the SMEs."

Madden revealed that SAP is open to partnering with both start-ups and established resellers, but that there were strict limits on how many partners it would sign on.

"Our approach to the market is really to achieve coverage. We will look at the market, figure out how many resellers we need in each vertical and, when we have that number, stop recruiting. When you have adequate coverage in a vertical, stop recruiting, otherwise you will put partners' margins under pressure," said Madden.

Madden predicted the market over the next few years would be heavily influenced by hosted software. He said: "I think one of the trends we are seeing is the march towards SaaS. SAP is absolutely well-placed to capitalise on this, as we are one of the few major players in the market with a viable offering."

Simon Etherington, SAP's director of public services and utilities, indi cated he was unconcerned by the effects a possible recession could have on his company. He said: "We have gone through different phases. In times when there is more of a recession companies look to cost containment, which plays to our strengths.

"Although we cannot say that we are recession proof, we tend to do fairly well without experiencing the ups and downs."