IN THE HOT SEAT: SAP carves out SMB channel

IN THE HOT SEAT: SAP carves out SMB channel

While dreaming of becoming an Australian version of Tim 'the Toolman' Taylor, Tim Cavill spends his working life crafting SAP Australia's SMB strategy. Since joining the company 19 months ago, he has had great success in laying the foundations for what is an assault on new territory for the vendor.

In the SMB space, the company reported robust uptake in 2004, seeing revenue grow 148 per cent over 2003 in the A/NZ market. It secured 114 new customers for SAP Business One; while the company closed 18 new customers for its mySAP All-in-One solution.

This year, Cavill wants to recruit more A/NZ channel partners to help push the SMB strategy. Last year, the company hooked up with 35 new dealers.

What is your work background?

Tim Cavill (TC): I started in IT 25 years ago as a programmer. I found it wasn't me and so moved into a marketing and sales role in the accounting software and business systems space. It progressed from there into sales and management positions, ultimately leading into general management. Prior to SAP, I was the Asia-Pacific manager for a supply chain company, Viewlocity Asia-Pacific.

I was sitting at my desk quite happily one morning when I was headhunted by SAP, which was getting involved in the SMB space and wanted me to help build the vision in the mid-market. So that was the start of the SAP journey 19 months ago.

What are your plans for 2005?

TC: The SMB strategy centres around pushing two products: Business One (a business management solution for emerging businesses ranging in size from 10 to several hundred employees); and All-in-One (which provides SMBs with a pre-packaged solution tailored to unique business needs).

We have built a channel around Business One and last year got out of the blocks strongly. We signed 120 new Business One installs across A/NZ, which far outweighed our expectations.

This was significant given the fact we recruited a team in-house, then recruited a channel, enabled the channel, and went out into the market to compete for deals.

The company has rolled out the latest version of Business One, which adds additional manufacturing functionality across all modules.

With the All-in-One product, the goal is to further push the industry-specific offerings to market by the channel partners.

Using the same code base as the traditional MySAP product base, we choose organisations who understand particular market niches and we work with them to develop market offerings.

Are the products strong in any particular vertical segments?

TC: Typically, the strength lies in manufacturing, industry, engineering, distribution, retail and local government. We plan to expand the channel coverage across these and other major market sectors.

What challenges does SAP face in reaching out to the mid-market considering the company has traditionally played at the top end of town?

TC: Changing perceptions is the hardest part, particularly educating companies on the fact we're not just servicing tier-one organisations. But Business One has allowed us to redefine SAP in the mid-market.

It has single-handedly allowed us to break down some of the negative perceptions.

We are now doing repeatable transactions with companies in those vertical markets.

Two or three years ago, nobody would have dreamt that SAP would be doing that.

In going head-to-head with the likes of Microsoft in this crowded space, what is SAP's main differentiator?

TC: Business One has some unique identifiers around the product itself. No one else offers a fully integrated, robust solution like Business One, combining elements of service management, CRM, logistics and light manufacturing.

Nobody else at that level of the market is actually capable of offering an all-in-one system. Typically, it is offered through a range of add-on systems. For example, Microsoft bolt on CRM and other functionality.

What top three things are on your 2005 to-do list? TC: I want to continue to strengthen our relationship and alignment with channel partners through regular meetings with regional and global partners.

Secondly, we need to continue our demand and lead generation efforts - we need to put fuel on the fire in getting SAP in the mid-market, and developing trusted advisor networks is one way to go.

Lastly, we want to continue our efforts in the channel enablement and up-selling arena, where we offer professional development, mentoring programs, and sales and business training to partners.

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