July 21, 2003
Small and midsize businesses have the same competitive needs as global corporations. It’s mostly a matter of scale. Like the big dogs, they must gnaw off costs, sharpen their competitive teeth, trim the fat from their operations – and learn to run like a greyhound.
When it comes to their IT landscape, a massive, expensive suite of solutions isn’t the answer. But neither are the leftovers of mis-matched applications from legacy systems and minor niche players. What they’re looking for is a tight, integrated package that covers both their basic and specialized business functions, can be up and running quickly and inexpensively, is easy to learn and maintain, yet is capable of expanding to match their future growth.
In recent years, SAP has moved authoritatively into the SMB world. SAP’s SMB customers range from established local businesses to young growth businesses with global ambitions. There are over 7 million SMBs in the U.S. alone. This is where the SAP Business Partners come in as certified, necessary members of the SAP extended network. These partners, from their own experience, know the SMB customer landscape, and they also have SAP behind them all the way.
SMBs, in general, are tightly focused companies that need a wide range of functionality – both the business basics and functionality specific to their industry. They need an integrated solution platform ready to grow as they grow. Perhaps most important, they need a solution-mentor with the recognized expertise to provide advice, guidance, implementation, and ongoing service.
SAP’s two-pronged approach to fully integrated SMB solutions – SAP Business One offered as a general-use package, and mySAP All-in-One bundles for specific industries – depends on a worldwide network of partners. With the help of over 100 business partners, SAP Business One has gained 1,300 customers since its introduction in October 2002. As for mySAP All-in-One – 200 partners and 3,500 customers.
Simply gaining customers, though, is only half the battle for SAP – and less than half the customers’ battle for the blue ribbon. Once the solution platforms are in place, customer systems must be kept at the peak of their performance. They require the special touch of SAP partners, on hand to help them.
By maintaining a close, continuing working relationship with their customers, SAP partners meet the needs of the full range of SMBs, from those making their first IT software purchase or taking their first tentative step into the world of e-business, to established enterprises gearing up for rapid expansion. Partners provide the expertise that gets the company up and running fast.
And what does the SAP partner gain from all this? First, association with the number-one provider of business software in the world. Second, a clearly spelled-out reciprocal agreement between SAP as provider and the partner as reseller. Third, access to a rapid-expanding pool of customers for the most sophisticated SMB suites in existence. And last but far from least, lots and lots of business, both new and continuing.