SAP has offered a product portfolio to the SME market for eight years now, but the vendor claims it still lacks success selling software to smaller players.
The firm's SME revenues in the UK have shown consistent double-digit growth for the past two years, but SAP believes that this growth is not enough.
SAP acquired TopManage in 2002, and the following year this became SAP Business One, a fully integrated software suite aimed at small businesses, encompassing financials, sales, customer relationship management and operational functionality.
The company then targeted mid-sized organisations with Business All-in-One in 2009, a similarly integrated package of business planning and management applications.
SAP’s on-demand solution for the SME market was launched in 2007, but technical difficulties meant that it became ready for wide-scale deployment only last year. The firm has recently announced the 2.6 release of Business ByDesign, which contains a software development kit that partners will use to create extensions and add-ons, bringing more flexibility to the offering.
SAP announced early last year that it was going to push hard into the SME market, declaring the area critical for the company’s growth. As part of large-scale changes to SAP’s management structure, the firm elevated Peter Lorenz, executive vice president of SME, to corporate officer, bringing an SME focus to SAP’s most senior team.
However, in an interview with V3.co.uk, SAP's SME director for the UK, John Antunes, conceded that the company is still not a brand SMEs associate with their needs. Antunes was hired for his experience in the SME market, after leading the small business division at Sophos.
SMEs are still under the impression that SAP is just a supplier for major corporations, and SAP has made little progress to convince them otherwise, according to Antunes.
The technical faults with Business ByDesign have not helped matters, he explained, but now that these have been fixed and the on-demand solution is where SAP wants it to be, there is nothing holding SAP back from success.
SAP does not intend to invest more money in targeting the market, and it would be easy to dismiss Antune’s comments as meaningless rhetoric, and his optimism as hot air. After all, his predecessor, Stephen Read, spoke to V3.co.uk about the same agenda of getting SAP’s brand name adopted in the SME market back in early 2009.
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