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The Value of Innovative Partnering: Why Your Organization Benefits from the Strength of SAP Partners

by Kevin Ichhpurani | SAPinsider

April 1, 2011

SAP has built a strong network of partners that today incorporates more than 10,000 diverse companies around the world. To help readers understand the true customer value of these partnerships in the SAP ecosystem, this article looks at four specific examples and explains the key customer benefits of each.
 

Companies — be they large or small — share a common need to manage a heterogeneous and integrated IT landscape. While each company has its own combination of solutions that best matches its specific needs, those solutions must always work together seamlessly and provide the ability to innovate without disruption.

To help companies address their needs and maximize their IT investments, SAP has built and continues to nurture a strong network of partners. Today, this network incorporates more than 10,000 diverse partners ranging from the industry’s largest IT providers to smaller firms with niche expertise and/or local presence. SAP believes that working with this network provides the best approach to delivering innovation and helping customers make the best choices as they refine the composition of their IT landscape. After all, when it comes to IT landscapes, there is no “landscape of one.”

It’s All About Customer Value

While developing our partner network, SAP has always focused on delivering exceptional customer value and addressing the customer need for solutions. Our partnerships reflect this — from the creativity of our design, to our high levels of integration, to the robust end-to-end support we provide.

Three primary drivers of customer value are delivered through our network of partnerships:

  1. Accelerating returns on customers’ strategic IT investments. Customers want to get the best possible returns from their most significant IT investments. They expect SAP to engage with their largest IT providers to maximize impact, identify opportunities for innovation, and collaborate to ensure optimal integration.
  2. Delivering domain expertise. The ability to tap into specific domain expertise is essential for customers to ensure their IT landscape can meet their unique needs. SAP focuses on identifying these providers and working closely with them to deliver a seamless experience.
  3. Providing assurance to find partners that best meet customers’ needs. Many partners participate in the SAP ecosystem, and customers tell SAP that they need a way to quickly identify which of those partners is best suited to help them. SAP addresses this requirement in several ways, each with the common thread of providing access to objective information so that customers are well-equipped to make the best choice for their own circumstances.

Customers can look to the partner ecosystem to find solutions that integrate with their existing landscape and solve their specific challenges.

The Value of Partnerships: 4 Examples

Perhaps the best way to drive home the true customer value of partnerships in the SAP ecosystem is through specific examples. Let’s look at how SAP addresses the drivers of customer value, and how customers benefit. 

Example #1: SAP HANA Leverages Best-of-Breed Hardware Partnerships

Through our strong relationships with other software and hardware companies, SAP delivers several game-changing innovations that directly address key customer challenges. One example is SAP In-Memory Appliance (SAP HANA), a solution that enables organizations to easily access relevant data in real time and efficiently manage large data volumes.

In 2010, SAP evolved SAP BusinessObjects Explorer by providing accelerated (integrated) access to information beyond the data stored in SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW). Customers’ enthusiasm for and success with the accelerated business intelligence solution led SAP to further focus on in-memory technology and develop SAP HANA. But creating the appliance required a robust co-innovation program among SAP, key partners, and customers in order to deliver the best capabilities.

Jointly developed by and delivered on hardware from IBM, HP, Cisco, Fujitsu, and Dell, and powered by Intel’s Xeon processor, SAP HANA realizes the efficient processing and analysis of massive amounts of data by packaging SAP’s intelligent use of in-memory technology, columnar database design, data compression, and massive parallel processing.

SAP HANA hardware partners were selected from the ecosystem to leverage their technology expertise. This helped transform the software layers on top of these technologies, allowing companies to analyze data in real time, simplifying the layers, and eliminating the latency associated with traditional IT systems.

Key Customer Benefits

Customers are already seeing dramatic results. SAP HANA provides a flexible, cost-effective, real-time approach to managing large data volumes, thus allowing organizations to dramatically reduce hardware and maintenance costs associated with running multiple data warehouses and operational and analytical systems.

SAP HANA also minimizes the obstacles, such as implementation costs and consolidation efforts, that many customers face when adopting analytic solutions. This is a great example of how collaboration among SAP partners helps maximize customers’ strategic IT investments by leveraging the diverse capabilities of ecosystem partners.

Example #2: Collaboration Between SAP and Microsoft Results in Duet Enterprise

Collaboration and co-innovation between partners must help customers meet current business challenges and seamlessly incorporate the latest technology, whether it be internally developed or provided by another vendor.1 The latest product of SAP’s ongoing partnership with Microsoft — Duet Enterprise — is an excellent example of this.

Duet Enterprise is a unique blend of SAP and Microsoft functionality that combines collaboration and productivity tools from Microsoft SharePoint with business data and processing functionality of SAP applications. The software provides a foundation enabling interoperability between SAP applications and Microsoft SharePoint to compose solutions based on those two systems using familiar tools and a set of building blocks to accelerate the development process. This helps realize extended value by broadening the use of SAP software throughout the enterprise and expanding the scope of Microsoft SharePoint. To speed time-to-value, the software offers ready-to-use functionality supporting common scenarios such as collaboration, workflow, reporting, and integration of SAP data with Microsoft SharePoint sites.2

Key Customer Benefits

Blending Microsoft and SAP technology produces unified, simplified access to the data and actions business users need, thus increasing personal and team productivity. At the same time, an IT team can use Duet Enterprise to more effectively serve the business and support increased agility.

Example #3: Solution Extensions Tap into Domain Expertise

Working with SAP customers of all sizes and industries, SAP has identified broadly applicable solution “completers” that are best provided through third parties with unique expertise. Solution extensions are select third-party offerings that SAP brands, sells, and supports. These offerings are built into the SAP roadmap, ensuring long-term ROI. SAP works with the providers to test the solutions’ integration and interoperability to ensure rapid, successful deployment.

These solutions are ideal for incorporating into SAP landscapes. For example, consider a process that aggravates many organizations and affects cash flow and supplier relationships: the invoice settlement process. Working with OpenText and Crossgate, SAP introduced the SAP Invoice Management application by OpenText and the SAP Information Interchange application by Crossgate to offer customers a combination of integrated, standardized solutions that can optimize the creation, processing, monitoring, problem resolution, and routing of purchase orders and invoices to eliminate the time-consuming, manual process associated with invoice settlement.

To reduce IT administration costs, SAP provides maintenance and support for solution extensions through a standardized approach. This helps customers minimize risks and more efficiently manage the life cycle of applications — from implementation and testing, to maintenance and operations, to monitoring, optimizing, and upgrading. As a result, a customer’s IT landscape is better protected, and IT can meet the business’s service-level objectives.

Key Customer Benefits

Solution extensions from SAP help customers optimize their SAP deployment to meet their specific needs, combining unique partner expertise with SAP product quality commitment and integration, support, and long-term investment assurance.

Example #4: SAP EcoHub Helps Customers Discover the Right Solution

With so many offerings available, customers are looking for a trusted resource for reviewing and purchasing them. SAP EcoHub is an online marketplace that enables customers to discover, evaluate, and buy relevant, validated solutions and services from the SAP ecosystem. The site has quickly become a key resource for customers, offering assurance when they select solutions.

SAP EcoHub is unique in that it brings together the necessary information for customers to make an objective, informed choice about whether solutions will meet their needs and work in their environment. It incorporates information provided directly by partners, leverages resources from SAP Community Network, and identifies the level of engagement with SAP through initiatives such as the SAP PartnerEdge program and third-party solution certifications.  

Through SAP EcoHub, customers can quickly find product information and live demos. The site features certified SAP solutions from SAP partners, meaning that customers are evaluating best-in-class solutions delivered by our network of trusted partners. But this is just the beginning. Through SAP EcoHub, customers can access the knowledge of peers and experts in the community. Customers can also leverage other social media tools, such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and Technorati, to share product information and solicit feedback from their own peer networks.

Key Customer Benefits

SAP believes that customers gain the best insight when they combine information provided by our partners on SAP EcoHub with the knowledge gleaned from taking advantage of the full potential of social media.3 SAP EcoHub is available to customers 24/7, enabling them to get trusted answers quickly when they need them. 

Find Value in the Extended Ecosystem

These four examples are only the tip of the iceberg. The SAP ecosystem consists of an expansive list of partner types beyond those mentioned in this article, including service providers, resellers, and OEMs.

By seeking collaborative opportunities with SAP and these partners, customers can access a broad set of resources to address their needs, find solutions that integrate with their existing landscape, and solve their specific challenges — and thus boost their overall impact and run better. To learn more, visit:

Kevin Ichhpurani (kevin.ichhpurani@sap.com) is Senior Vice President of the Global Ecosystem and Channels organization, responsible for leading SAP’s partner business development, solution partner management, strategic technology partnerships, and the global OEM program. Previously, Kevin was Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development at SAP.

 1 For details about the benefits of SAP’s co-innovation efforts, see the article by Steve Graham in this April-June 2011 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

For more information about Duet Enterprise, see “SAP for Business Users: Bringing SAP Applications to Microsoft SharePoint Users with Duet Enterprise” by David Brutman in the January-March 2011 issue of SAPinsider. And to learn about another joint innovation — SAP-MICROSOFT Unite Partner Connection — see the article by Bill Lawler in this April-June 2011 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

For more details on using social media and SAP Community Network to benefit your business, see the article by Mark Yolton in this April-June 2011 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

4 Center for Information Systems Research, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “How Other CxOs Think CIOs Should Spend Their Time” by Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner (January 2010). [back]

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