NEW YORK – At its fourth global SME summit in New York City, SAP announced some new initiatives specifically targeted at its smaller customers and the channel partners who serve them. They include the extension of a zero per cent financing offer, an expansion of the hardware on which SAP HANA will run , which will broaden its SME markets by lowering its costs, and the ability of SMEs to connect to SAP’s Ariba Network free of charge
SAP first introduced a “buy now, pay later” financial deal for SMEs in early 2014. It gives SME customers zero-per cent financing for up to 24 months for the purchase of any SAP product on the reseller price list.
“We piloted this two year, zero per cent financing this year as a second half program, although we didn’t call it a pilot because that made it seem like it would end,” said Kevin Gilroy, SAP’s senior vice president and general manager of global indirect channels and SME. “We listened to partners on the street, and they wanted flexible financing on some of our products, so we have made this permanent now. It extends the working capital of our partners and customers, and partners love it because they get paid in five days. It was 100 per cent designed with partners in mind from Day One.”
The changes to SAP HANA were made possible by the release of SAP HANA, service pack 9. It allows HANA to be run in production environments on less expensive hardware solutions than before. It also now has multi-tenancy capabilities and can run multiple applications on the same server.
“The use cases for HANA are in the thousands now, because this makes it possible to be digested in more manageable pieces,” Gilroy said. “Prior to this announcement you had to buy a customized server for HANA. Now it won’t run on any server, but it will run on many more servers than before.”
“When Business One came to HANA in September 2012, we knew that it needed to be able to run on less expensive servers for the SME market, or it would be a no-go, so we made changes to the configuration which lowered the requirements, so Business One could run on an E5 server,” said Steve Gouveia, GCO B1 Readiness Solution Portfolio Manager at SAP. “But the HANA platform itself still required an E7 server. The change now means that HANA can run on an E5 server as well, although it does require too much power and parallel processing to run on the low end servers.”
SAP has also announced that SMEs can now connect to SAP’s Ariba Network free of charge. Ariba, one of the first B2B trading platforms aiming at improving the procurement process, and which was acquired by SAP for $4.4 billion dollars in late 2012, is used by more than 1.6 million companies in 190 countries to transact over $600 billion in commerce annually.
“This will let SMEs be on the network for free,” Gilroy said. “They can come on it, and put their product and solutions on it. With the free option, they only list, and can’t bid, but the idea is to get them to come on board, and not to get in the bidding process.”
Gilroy said that these initiatives further strengthen the hand of partners who are SAPs go-to-market strategy for the SME sector.
“They provide us with a major competitive advantage of SME, this intimacy of channel partners behind the company, who specialize in specific industries, and who can take a buzz word like ‘Big Data’ and make it meaningful to customers,” he said. “We compete against a lot of cloud companies who sell direct, and I don’t know how many of these will be left standing in five to ten years. I believe that five years from now, SAP will be a fabulously successful cloud company with a customer base five times what it is today, with a really successful channel.”