SAP SME Day: Business ByDesign deep dive

Up next is a deep dive on Business ByDesign, the SaaS offering for SMEs. The deep dives so far have been kind of shallow, and mostly centered on sales, marketing, pricing and packaging of the products rather than much to do with functionality. We’re also running 45 minutes late, and seem to be getting later with each session.

This session is particularly interesting because of the analogy to SaaS BPM: these are mission-critical business systems, responsible for the day-to-day business processes, and there’s some significant issues with customer acceptance of their core processes existing in the cloud.

I hadn’t seen Business ByDesign before — somehow I missed it at SAPPHIRE — so it was interesting to have Rainer Zinow, SVP SME Global Services, give us a demo.

The system is role based, so that functionality is exposed depending on the user’s role. Apparently, there’s some basic document management, but we didn’t see that.

The system is built on an in-memory architecture for both transactions and analytics, using a search engine rather than a database (similar to some ideas that I saw at FASTforward); transactions cause database writes, but client applications are always served from memory.

There are some pretty complete analytics available, where you can drill down into specific items of interest, and even link directly back to the transaction on the ERP side, something that you couldn’t easily do with non-integrated BI.

There’s some lightweight workflow, really just manual routing to a person’s inbox that also allows a work item to be forwarded to someone else.

One of the most interesting parts was exposed when he demonstrated saving the online reports to Excel: the Excel version can be converted to contain formulas that point back to the original data source, which are actually pointers to web services. The reporting implication is that you can save the Excel report, then come back later and update it with point-in-time data simply by refreshing the data source; even better is that this set of web services is available to any environment, not just Excel, allowing you to build mashups or other applications that access the core transactional data.

This sort of hybrid model for SaaS is nice, where you can do everything in the on-demand environment, but also be able to download some desktop tools or build mashups that link directly to the online data.

SAP SME Day: Prasad Akella with Business All-in-One deep dive

I missed the late-morning sessions, but I’m back here for Prasad Akella, Senior Director of SAP Business All-in-One Solution Marketing.

We heard about some of the new integrations with All-in-One: just announced last week, the CRM 2007 product is now tightly integrated with the All-in-One functionality, providing marketing, sales and service components. Also, the Business Objects Edge Series integrates to provide analytics and visibility. Other than that, there’s not a lot here that interests me: as with this morning, most people in the audience seem to be a lot more interested in pricing, packaging and system configuration than I am; I’m guessing that some of them make their living helping clients to wade through this sort of information.

SAP SME Day: Jeff Stiles with portfolio update

Jeff Stiles is back to give us an update on the SME product portfolio, and there’s an interesting tie-in to yesterday’s message at the Business Objects day: the portfolio includes both business management and business intelligence, with a pretty strong emphasis on how BI adds value to SAP’s traditional business management.

He went through the entire SME portfolio:

  • Business One, their small business on-premise solution, sold only through channel partners.
  • Business ByDesign, their new on-demand service that provides a single end-to-end business solution, targeted at fast-growing midsize companies that don’t want to built a large IT infrastructure, and typically have less than 100 users. There are a number of pre-configured processes built in, intended to support common business processes without requiring extensive customization. Business ByDesign is available only in US, UK, Germany, France, China and India; the restriction in geography for a SaaS solution seems to indicate that this still requires a significant amount of effort at the customer location in order to sell and service the customer.
  • All-in One, for midsize companies that need a more customizable solution.
  • Analytics with Business Objects.

As you can likely tell by the volume of notes, we spent most of the session with audience questions and comments on Business ByDesign. The sessions this morning have been pretty basic, and I’ve learned way more about SAP sales channels than I ever wanted to know; hopefully we’ll get more detailed product information as the day goes on.

There’s an online tool to help figure out which SME tool best fits the customer requirements, based on five factors: the way you do business, your budget and timelines, your IT expertise and perferences, the way that your employees work, and your future growth plans.

SAP SME Day: Glenn Wada with business update

After an intro by Jeff Stiles, SVP SME Solution Marketing, Glenn Wada, GM US Strategic Growth Enterprises Group, gave us a business update on SAP’s small and medium enterprise (SME) efforts.

75% of SAP customers are SME, although only about 30% of software sales (>1B Euro). SAP defines SME is anything under $1B in revenue, regardless of which product that they’re using, then further stratify that into “small” (under $50-60M), “medium” (up to $300M) and “upper middle” ($300M-$1B). This latter “UME” band is served by the standard SAP direct sales channel, whereas customers below $300M in revenue are served by Wada’s group, which uses a hybrid direct-channel sales model. SAP owns about 30% of the SME market, and continues to grow this market share through their focus on high-growth verticals: high technology, renewable energy, oil & gas, life sciences, services, and retail.

Taking look at the product suite, the SME offerings are Business One, Business ByDesign and Business All-in-One (although keep in mind that some of the UME’s are likely using the SAP enterprise products since the SME distinction is made by revenue, not by product). SAP believes that they can continue to service a company as it grows by shifting them from one product to another — although I’m sure that the transition is anything but painless, if they’re a competent incumbent, they have a good chance of keeping customers as they out-grow the lower-end products.

There will be more detail on the SAP SME product portfolio throughout the day, but here’s a summary:

Business One

  • Single business application
  • 20k+ customers
  • Targeted at small businesses; these businesses are looking at moving to ByDesign or All-in-One by the time that they hit $50-60M in revenue

Business ByDesign

  • Complete, adaptable
  • On demand service
  • 150 customer engagements
  • New business model
  • Focus on 6 key markets
  • 5,500 registrations

Business All-in-One

  • Configurable and extensible
  • 12,300 customers
  • New release based on business process platform, including CRM

I’m a newbie to the SAP SME space (and don’t really know all that much about SAP’s enterprise products either, except as I bump up against them in some of my large clients), and I definitely feel like the least-informed person in the room.