In an ecosystem, all members have an important role regardless of their individual size. There is an inherent interdependence among the members of an ecosystem, and that notion is as relevant within the SAP ecosystem as it is within nature. In fact, 79% of SAP customers are small or midsize enterprises (SMEs), making them a large and vital component of the ecosystem. SAP, our partners, and our larger customers all benefit from the innovation and achievements of those small and midmarket companies and, in turn, their leaders rely on the solutions and services provided by SAP and our partners to create new innovations. So it is extremely important to continue developing solutions that meet the needs of those customers.
Defining the Needs of Small and Midmarket Leaders
The key to delivering the right IT solutions to a small or midmarket customer is to understand that its needs are not the same as those of larger, multinational companies. This is especially true when it comes to an ERP system. Here are some of the ways that an SME’s ERP goals differ from those of a larger company:
- Business leaders at small and midsize companies want industry-specific solutions with best practices baked in. They prefer less customization in an ERP system and would rather implement a suite of solutions catered to their business to let them get up and running quickly.
- Scalability is very high on an SME’s ERP priority list. The leaders of these companies have aggressive growth plans, and expansion can happen very quickly. Outgrowing your ERP is not conducive to high growth rates.
- IT leaders at SMEs seek a user-friendly front end for their ERP applications. It’s something all companies seek, but for many small and midmarket customers, the ERP user base may be more diverse, with employees wearing multiple hats. These users need to be able to move among applications and solutions more easily than users at large organizations.
- Executives at these firms need a clear and simple path to value with an ERP implementation. With smaller IT budgets, they simply can’t afford the risk of investing in an ERP project that doesn’t have clear timelines and a well-articulated return.
- And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, these leaders want a simpler IT infrastructure. With smaller IT staffs, they can’t manage an overly complex IT landscape — especially on the back end — that requires extensive maintenance and integration. They want a simpler ERP environment that provides a platform for innovation as well as peace of mind.
With all of these factors in consideration, SAP developed SAP Business All-in-One, our ERP system for small and midmarket companies, as well as subsidiaries of large enterprises. It’s a preconfigured ERP system that includes best practices for a specific industry or microvertical and meets SMEs’ unique needs for functionality, usability, scalability, and ROI. And recently, SAP has enabled SAP Business All-in-One to run on SAP Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (SAP Sybase ASE),1 helping these customers dramatically simplify their IT infrastructure.
Alleviating Database Intimidation
As the last item in our list of SME ERP goals points out, one of the major concerns for these businesses when implementing an ERP system is the complexity of the IT infrastructure — specifically the database layer. Leaders at these companies want to use their ERP system to drive business innovation. They don’t want their IT staff to be bogged down investigating performance issues to determine if the problem is an application issue, a middleware issue, or a database issue so they can call the right vendor for help.
Business leaders at small and midsize companies have legitimate concerns about whether a more robust database layer will require an increase in internal IT staffing for service and maintenance. And they wonder what is the risk of lost productivity or revenue during a database migration, implementation, or downtime. When a spreadsheet is lost, there is some productivity impact. But when an entire database goes down, it has much larger ramifications. It can be an intimidating proposition for leaders at a midsize company with limited experience in these areas.
In short, SME leaders seek high reliability and low maintenance costs in a database. As independent analyst Cindy Jutras said in a recent brief, “Historically, the database platforms that have successfully dominated the landscape of small to midsize companies were those built on the premise of feature, function, and technology all built in. … Unless technology is your business, if you’re managing a company, or even a division or a department or a group, you aren’t interested in technology for technology’s sake. Technology is only as valuable as the business value it brings.”2
To alleviate these concerns, SAP offers SAP Business All-in-One on the SAP Sybase ASE database platform. SAP Sybase ASE is a proven, mature database that is certified to work with SAP Business All-in-One solutions and SAP Business Suite applications. The certification ensures the reliable performance that IT leadership seeks at a low TCO.
By its design, SAP Sybase ASE lightens the administrative demands on an SME’s IT organization. It has self-management capabilities that enable the database to tune itself with minimal staff intervention, automates manual database administration functions, and has higher annual uptime compared to other database products. An IDC report found that SAP Sybase ASE’s total costs were 28% less than other relational databases.3
The Value of Trusted Partners
SAP Business All-in-One on SAP Sybase ASE is a shining example of the ecosystem at work. Without the purchasing clout of their much larger brethren and a large supply management organization, managing vendor relationships is a challenge for midmarket business leaders. Providing the package of SAP Business All-in-One on SAP Sybase ASE offers these companies an integrated, end-to-end platform from a single trusted provider through a single point of contact. Delivering it to customers through SAP-certified partners further minimizes concerns about vendor evaluation and management. These partners have expertise in SAP and Sybase offerings, and many are already in the field working closely with our small and midmarket customers so they understand their business goals intimately and can incorporate them into the implementation.
It’s a simpler process that lets the business’s IT staff and leaders focus on high-value activities in the ERP implementation, rather than getting bogged down in the intricacies of the database layer.
For more details, visit www.sap.com/solution/sme/software/erp/all-in-one/index.html.
Dawn Crew (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Global Vice President of the Worldwide Ecosystem and Channels Solution Marketing at SAP. Prior to joining SAP in 2007, Dawn held various operational, executive product management, and strategy roles in the partner ecosystem herself
1For more on SAP Sybase ASE, see “Combined Competencies Mean Superior Results” in this issue of SAPinsider (sapinsider.wispubs.com). [back]
2 Mint Jutras, “SAP Sybase ASE Puts More ‘All’ in SAP Business All-in-One” (May 2012). [back]
3 IDC white paper sponsored by Sybase, “Calculating the True Cost of RDBMS Ownership and How Sybase ASE Stacks Up: A Guide for SAP Business Suite Users” (December 2011). [back]
4 For more information, see Christine Dover’s blog post, “Sybase ASE Database for SAP Business All-in-One: Real-Time Data Platform for Your Customers,” at http://bit.ly/MpW5Ec. [back]