Today, SAP is announcing their new Cloud Accelerator global initiative, which makes new marketing resources available to support specific SAP partners serving the SME business market.
“Partners are super-critical for us in the cloud,” said Karl Fahrbach, Global Head of Channels at SAP. “After we took the decision to build the partner-first umbrella, the 2017 growth rate in our indirect business in the cloud was higher than our direct cloud business for the first time. We had a fantastic year due to those investments.”
The Cloud Accelerator initiative is a component of SAP’s Cloud Choice Profit program, which was unveiled at SAP SAPPHIRE in 2016, and has been built out since. The percentage of SAP’s cloud business done through the program has increased from five per cent in late 2016 to over 20 per cent today.
“We have taken it very seriously and recruited more than 500 partners to the ecosystem,” Fahrbach said. “This is the seventh component of that program, and we are covering every lever to be successful.”
The program has several aspects. It includes support in developing and executing a marketing plan, and provides for MDF. It also gives partners access to a partner marketing advisor.
“This is for partners who are 100 per cent committed to the cloud,” Fahrbach said. “The Accelerator Initiative Is designed to help them run a profitable business. Born-in-the-cloud partners in particular tend to be smaller boutiques, and sometimes they don’t have a marketing department at all. Last year, we ran a worldwide pilot with 75 partners and it was super successful. Participants in the pilot had 2x more pipeline and closed 2x more business than those who were not in the pilot.”
Fahrbach said that marketing is even more important in cloud business than in other kinds.
“Marketing is key in the cloud, because cloud business has a need to accelerate volume,” he said. “Investment in marketing is the key to success. This program strengthens their marketing by effectively outsourcing the partner’s digital marketing to SAP. We will create a marketing plan to generate demand.”
Two groups of partners are eligible for the program.
“One is cloud leaders – partners with a growth rate last year of over 50 per cent, who plan to grow at the same rate or higher this year,” Fahrbach said. “A high growth rate in any solution area makes them eligible. We want to accelerate partners with a high potential growth rate.”
The second group is partners who have developed cloud packaging solutions on top of SAP.
“For partners who have invested in packaging solution extensions with us, the best way to market that is through Cloud Accelerator,” Fahrbach said.
Fahrbach said that SAP is asking commitment on two levels from Cloud Accelerator participants.
“The first is the development of the marketing plan,” he said. “The second element is to resource this – to get a specific person on the partner side to commit to the plan and meet on a regular basis. If it’s just SAP doing it, and the partner doesn’t have someone dedicated to this, it won’t work.”
SAP expects that the participants in the program will be a mix of traditional on-prem and born in the cloud partners.
“Some of the on-prem partners transitioning into the cloud need help in developing a digital marketing strategy,” Fahrbach said. “The born-in-the-cloud partners tend to understand that need to accelerate volume in the cloud, but they often lack resources and budget.”
Fahrback said that they are looking to significantly expand Cloud Accelerator this year.
“Our plan in the next year is to triple the investments in the program, and triple the number of partners who participate,” he said.