SAP stresses simplicity for smaller firms at SME Summit

At last year’s Summit, emphasized how much it valued its SME customers, including small businesses. This year they added a wrinkle to that, emphasizing that SMEs want and need simplicity, and that those taking their time to decide need to make the move – with solutions.

Rodolpho Cardenuto

, President of Global Partner Operations, SAP

NEW YORK CITY — Tuesday in New York City, SAP held its global SME summit, an event the company puts on to demonstrate its commitment to smaller firms. And while last year’s event was all about SAP proclaiming its commitment to this market, this year the big theme built on a sub-theme from last year – that SMEs, particularly the small businesses in the category need simplicity in their IT solutions.

SAP buttressed this theme by releasing the result of a survey conducted on their behalf by Knowledge@Wharton, the online business journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Complexity comes with growth, but SMEs cannot cope with complexity,” said Rodolpho Cardenuto, President of Global Partner Operations, SAP, in his event keynote, echoing the principal finding of the survey. “They want to continue to grow, but in a simple way. Our job is to build the foundation for simplicity and growth.”

The Knowledge@Wharton survey found that 72 per cent of leaders and team members say business complexity has hurt efforts to meet process and decision making goals. Over 30 per cent maintained that it “strongly inhibited” that ability. 58 per cent specifically said technology complexity was responsible.

While these numbers show an apparent consensus, the survey’s data on use show that looking for solutions today doesn’t have the same priority. Slightly less than half (49 per cent) of senior leaders believe business simplification is of significant strategic importance today. However, that number jumps to 65 per cent when asked if they believe it will be of significant strategic importance within the next three years.

In a similar vein, while 47 per cent of survey respondents said they think they will be using self-service tools when they are making decisions within the next three years, only 19 percent are currently using this kind of support.

The reference customers SAP brought to the event were strong advocates of making the move to simpler solutions.

“We needed a system that was complex – but not from a user perspective,” said Davi Pontes, Manager of Operations at London Ontario-based orthopedic surgical distributor Tribe Medical Group. “Our salespeople don’t want to deal with any complexity at all. Everything needs to be as simple as a smartphone.” They wound up purchasing SAP , version for SAP HANA.

Pontes also said they should have made the move earlier than they did.

“We waited and it made it more difficult, because it’s more difficult to transition when you have a lot of data,” he said.

“We wanted to simplify building something scalable,” said Shaun Nath, Executive Director of M.R.K.T {Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger) a L.A.-based accessories maker which is an early adopter of SAP . “Other solutions we looked at were burdensome, even though they were cloud solutions for SMEs. Salespeople don’t want to deal with any complexity at all. Everything needs to be as simple as a smartphone.”

“We had an older SAP solution in place before, and the old users of that system in the company are excited to see complexity taken out of the system when we moved to the S/4 HANA edition of SAP Business ,” said Rick Castro, CIO of Par Pacific, an upper-mid-market diversified energy company based in Houston with about 600 employees.

“We love SMEs, but they are not large enterprise,” Cardenuto said. “We deal with them they want us to deal with them, not the way we do with large enterprise. The narrative now is clear segmentation of products, wrapping up all the portfolio in a single narrative, which is simple to price, simple to configure, simple to consume and simple to use.”

The survey “Simplifying the Future of Work Study” was conducted by Knowledge@Wharton and SAP, and consisted of 433 interviews of executives and managers at small and midsize companies. Eighty-five per cent of companies surveyed had less than US$500 million in annual revenue, and 15 per cent had annual revenue between $500 million and $1 billion. 60 per cent were from North America, 23 per cent Asia Pacific, 15 per cent Europe, and 2 per cent Middle East and Africa.

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