SAP's appointment of Queens-land's Data#3 as its third Australian reseller marks the end of a long pause for the dominant vendor in the enterprise-wide software applications market.
It has been nearly a year since SAP signalled its intention to create new sales channels into small-to-medium organisations by picking Sydney's ESP and Victoria's ASAP as its first Australian value-added resellers.
New partner Data#3 (annual revenues: $63 million) will patrol Queensland, Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea for SAP. As with ESP and ASAP, Data#3 will sell SAP into commercial organisations with turnovers between $50 million and $150 million, leaving global customers and government still in SAP's exclusive domain.
Despite SAP's natural focus on direct high-end sales, indications are it is making the difficult cultural shift demanded by its channel strategies in the expanding mid-range market.
Says George Byrne of ESP: "The relationship is now working quite well after some early teething difficulties." SAP sales for ESP have been reasonably brisk in the past year with "half a dozen sites in various stages of implementation", he said.
That pace should pick up this year, according to SAP Australia director of alliances Sanjay Gupta.
SAP's market research shows "anything up to 250 mid-range deals will be done this year in Australia", said Gupta.
SAP believes it can translate about 25 per cent of those opportunities into new SAP sites, with help from its resellers. If true, that would increase Australia's 100-plus existing SAP sites by about one-half.
The belief that SAP's solutions require complex, extended implementations was labelled a market myth by Gupta and Data#3 MD John Grant.
About 30 per cent of SAP's worldwide revenues now flow from its reseller channels and four-week implementations at mid-range sites were not uncommon, Gupta said.
According to Grant, Data#3's role "is packaging solutions for customers who want a good understanding of what the costs are and what the deliverables are.
"They also want the solution packaged in such a way that supporting it won't require an expansion of their existing capabilities, because this is a cost-driven marketplace."