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Value Drives Success

How Customers of All Sizes Innovate with Global Partner Operations

by Rodolpho Cardenuto | SAPinsider, Volume 16, Issue 4

October 9, 2015

In May 2014, Rodolpho Cardenuto was tasked with reshaping SAP’s partner business as the head of the newly formed Global Partner Operations (GPO) organization. His mission: Foster partner ecosystem growth in alignment with an ongoing transition to a digital and service-based economy. In this exclusive SAPinsider interview, Cardenuto discusses how the GPO solution portfolio has evolved to better meet customer needs.


Q: Before GPO, you were a regional executive leader for years. What did you learn that prepared you for your current global role?

A: Every day I’m reminded of my experience as a regional executive. Most recently, I was president of SAP Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s in our regions where customers and partners live and operate. It’s where the initiatives and ideas we discuss are implemented. And it’s where business innovation truly happens. So while I’m now in a global role, my regional experience is a constant reminder that our local partners and customers must be at the center of everything. 

The world has changed so much since I joined SAP in 2008. In the past seven years, SAP has successfully transformed from an on-premise, direct-sales ERP company into the fastest-growing cloud company in the market. My experience in the regions has given me tremendous insight into pursuing high-growth opportunities. It has also emphasized the importance of innovating with customers and partners on new, transformative business models.

Q: How is GPO helping SAP customers address the opportunities and challenges of the digital economy?

A: The digital economy has emerged through strong business networks. We live and breathe a networked existence every day in GPO. It’s what we do.   

One thing that’s made us successful is that we know how to adapt to new realities. SAP is constantly evolving and adapting our products and expertise to the changing needs and demands of our customers. The beauty of our ecosystem is that, together with our partners, we can anticipate and meet our customers’ needs at a faster pace than we could ever manage on our own.

For example, we recently announced an alliance with Facebook that will help SAP customers find, target, and cultivate new customers. Additionally, we believe SAP HANA Cloud Platform opens the door for tremendous innovation with our partner ecosystem.1 This kind of innovation with partners will help customers of all sizes thrive in today’s digital economy.

SME customers will be able to leverage the same innovative technologies used by large enterprises, including SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

Q: How has the GPO portfolio evolved in the last year?

A: The big news is the SAP SME Solutions portfolio. Earlier this year, we decided to look at our SME products — SAP Business One, SAP Business All-in-One, SAP Business ByDesign, and SAP Anywhere — more holistically. We no longer ask our customers to choose between one or the other. That happens behind the scenes. Customers simply decide to go with the SAP SME Solutions portfolio, and we check off which products will work best for them.2 

SMEs are a huge piece of the market. Totaling 65 million, most businesses in the world are SMEs, and they represent a software market worth €68B in 2015, with projections reaching €88B in 2018. This is a huge opportunity for SAP. Today, more than 80% of SAP’s customers — 241,500 businesses — are SMEs. The majority of those come through partners and other channels.

At the Partner Summit at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando in May 2015, we announced SAP Anywhere in China through China Telecom. SAP Anywhere is a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based front-office suite for SMEs that offers native integration with SAP Business One.3 Although we haven’t launched it yet in the US and the UK, we anticipate that plans will be announced soon.

Overall we are excited about the growth of the portfolio. SME customers will be able to leverage the same innovative technologies used by large enterprises, including SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Customers can start anywhere for how they consume this product portfolio; in a cloud-first subscription-based model they can be up and running on the SAP HANA platform in a matter of hours, for example. So, whether a company is running SAP Business One, SAP Business All-in-One, SAP Business ByDesign, or SAP Anywhere, it has the same platform with which to advance the business by creating new ideas and intellectual property (IP). This is unique in the industry for SMEs.

We are proud of what we have accomplished. However, our biggest achievement is our next one. We should celebrate success, but we can’t rest on our laurels. Just like SAP, GPO has a very forward-focused mindset.

Q: How is GPO evolving how SAP works with partners, to help them embrace innovation for new and existing customers?

A: We’re doing this in many ways; let me tell you about two. First, the Partner Select program, which is geared for a SaaS-based world, is the next-generation business model that we launched earlier this year as a pilot. We think it will provide an on-ramp to help our channel partners quickly build and expand their cloud offerings. We have an amazing ecosystem of channel partners, and we want to help them embrace and innovate in the cloud.

Second, our fully redesigned SAP PartnerEdge program focuses on rewarding partners for value over volume. Traditionally, partner discounts fluctuated depending on commitment level, but we believe that delivering value is a more effective way of generating volume. As such, volume discounts will level out, but there will be discounts based on added value, such as investments in IP or additional certifications. This is just one example of the major changes that were introduced in the new SAP PartnerEdge program that was launched in August.

Q: What does this focus on value mean for GPO going forward?

A: I think value will create more IP in a growing partner ecosystem. The very nature of GPO is to help spread the creation of IP by industry, sector, geography, and partner-created solutions. There are things that we cannot imagine creating ourselves that we can create with our partners and customers through a robust partner ecosystem. We see this happening every day with more SAP customers joining our partner ranks.

Becoming a major force in the digital economy will require SAP to continue to build and maintain a strong and vibrant partner ecosystem. This is the reality that we face today. And it’s the driving force behind the solution portfolio, business model, and go-to-market strategy that we are delivering.




1 See the article “A Platform for Innovation” in this issue of SAPinsider. [back]

2 See the article “Competing in the Digital Economy" in this issue of SAPinsider. [back]

3 See the article “More Than Just an Online Storefront” in this issue of SAPinsider. [back]


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Rodolpho Cardenuto
Rodolpho Cardenuto

Global Channels and
General Business

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