SAP Africa’s realtime plan to attract the SME

In the words of its leaders, global business solution provider SAP has, for many years, been known as ‘the ERP company’ – one that is more often engaged at the high end enterprise space.

Derek Kudsee, COO, SAP Africa. (Image: SAP Africa)

At its biennial Saphila 2012 User Group Conference, the company outlined its strategy to attract and work with the continent’s growing small-to-medium enterprise market.

The SME position is not a new topic for SAP and the company believes its solution portfolio for the space certainly works … but there is a desire to secure a more active response from operators eager to engage the company.

Derek Kudsee, COO, SAP Africa, says the company’s product portfolio represents an end-to-end story. It includes various Business One consumption models, rapid deployment and all-in-one pre-packaged solutions, success factors in the cloud, an analytics platform offering that includes Crystal Report OEM solutions.

“I think we still have a way to go to get a lot more SMEs focused on SAP. If I look at customers represented, I think there is an opportunity for us to still build on our SME messaging and market share. When we go looking for SMEs, we find them and we engage with them…I am looking forward to the day when SMEs come looking for us,” says Kudsee.

The question of demand within the market speaks to the heart of SAP’s progression into Africa and is a ‘push-pull discussion’ says Kudsee. “Where the company has ‘people on the ground’ or an investment in offices and staff, there is demand. And the demand is outstripping supply in all regions where we have presence. But there are some countries in sub-Saharan Africa where we have not sold anything. This is about the company’s progression into Africa.”

According to Kudsee the experience thus far is that as SAP enters new markets and industries, it creates the demand.

To meet this demand effectively, the company has adopted a strategic, staged approach to investment … and growing the partner ecosystem is the first point of departure.

SAP currently has 160 partners across Africa and one of the objectives is to double this number.

Kudsee acknowledges that there is a perception of the company as one that is generally far removed from the small-to-mid-size space and exclusive to the top end of the market.

“We have to do work to get over hurdles to break in and absolutely, perception, but perception is a tough one. The best thing we can do to solve that one is have our customers talk to customers,” he says.

In applying its customer acquisition strategy, the company will focus on widening its base to achieve its ambition of reaching one billion users, globally, by 2015.

At the same time Kudsee and his team is looking to push the inherent disruptive benefits of mobility, Hana technology and realtime to facilitate moving the experience of SAP systems from the back-end to the front-end and on devices.

“Realtime and the need for instant solutions will power future generations. We’re just getting started in the world of realtime data technology… the next five to ten years will be phenomenal in that space, particularly with mobility,” Kudsee concludes.

Chris Tredger, Online Editor