SAP AG has created a global SME business unit as part of its ongoing efforts to increase its footprint in the mid-market sector which it has marked out as being critical to its plan to increase its
customer base from 30 000 to 100 000 by 2010.
The company has a long history of trying to establish itself as a credible mid-market player but it is still perceived as being too costly and too complex. The Global SME operation is a fresh initiative aimed at breaking down its large enterprise-only image and is the first time that the SME business will have been managed on a global as opposed to a local or regional scale. It will oversee SME-related sales, marketing and operations, and resource allocation with the aim of creating an integrated go-to-market strategy, targeting direct and indirect channels.
The unit will be headed by Hans-Peter Klaey who has been president and CEO of SAP Asia Pacific since January 2002, and before that was managing director of SAP UK. As president of the unit he will report to Leo Apotheker, president of customer solutions and operations, and a member of the SAP AG executive board. The reporting line is also an indication that SAP is serious about the SME sector.
With an underdeveloped partner channel and no seamless upgrade path for growing businesses looking for a progression from SAP Business One to mySAP All-in-One and beyond because the applications use entirely different code bases, the company has a lot of work to do in the SME sector.
Steve Rogers, the newly appointed MD for SAP UK, said making SME one of three growth engines for the 2010 vision "requires us to do things we have traditionally not been good at". And that includes building a channel. However, he said the Global SME unit will bring the necessary discrete skills and expertise and points to SAP's existing SME customer base as proof that it can succeed in the sector. "Modest companies are betting their business on us," he said.
According to SAP, 65% of its customer base are SME companies, but in terms of revenue it is about 45%.