At a recent roundtable, senior representatives from SAP discussed technology for SMEs and the role the channel plays in driving its operations across this booming space.
“Large companies carry the headlines while their small and medium sized peers carry the weight of the economy,” said Luis Murguia, SVP ecosystem and channels, at SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Murguia and other senior representatives from SAP recently hosted a round-table where the company affirmed its commitment towards SMEs, saying that these enterprises are central to the UAE’s ability to prosper.
“Information technology is a key pillar for SMEs to become a prime engine of economic growth in the UAE. The advances in business-oriented solutions for mobility, analytics and cloud, are driving the competitiveness of SMEs by empowering business leaders and entrepreneurs with the best in class technology innovations to gain clear insights of the business dynamics in real time,” he said.
At the event, Dhiraj Daryani, research manager, IDC MEA said that according to the IDC IT Managers Forum Survey 2011, while the SME sector’s IT spend is dominated by investments in hardware, storage and security, entrepreneurs are keen to invest in the latest technology solutions.
“The best way that SMEs are preparing for growth is to have sophisticated business systems in place that allow small companies to operate like big companies, and ultimately compete and win business. But it doesn’t end there. Smart SMEs are also standing out from the crowd by investing in the big trends of 2012: mobility and cloud. In doing so, progressive companies are not only investing in technology innovations but are garnering results in terms of higher revenue expectations to drive impact,” he said.
Daryani added that although the sector is keen to invest, low credit availability for these organisations stifles investments in innovative solutions. “The UAE needs to stimulate the development of existing SMEs, beget new companies through better financial solutions, provide greater access to markets, and facilitate targeted mentoring of youth and entrepreneurs,” said Daryani.
Mazen Jabri, head of channels and ecosystem at SAP MENA said that the company understand the unique needs and channels of the SME segment. “We believe, while SMEs are more customer focused than their larger peers, they prefer a rather intimate working relationship with their technology providers. This is why our focus on this segment is driven solely through our channel partners,” he said.
79% of all SAP SME customers originate from over 3,000 value-added reseller (VAR) channel partners (the goal is to increase that to 100% in the coming years) that provide localisation, regional and industry expertise and support.
SAP’s solutions for SMEs include SAP Business One, a single integrated solution for managing small businesses and SAP Business All-in-One, a customisable and extensible solution for midsize companies with deep industry best practices built in. Currently, there are over 1,100 partner-developed add-on solutions for SAP Business One and SAP Business All-in-One, it was reported.
M Ravi, VP, business development for Middle East at Caritor, a member of the web solutions provider Entity Data said that the company has been offering SAP solutions for the last six years. “Working with SAP and catering to the SME segment has helped us achieve approximately 36% growth year on year. The relationship has been lucrative because the team at SAP believes in a mutual growth model where we build go-to-market strategies together and tap into the emerging technology needs to this booming enterprise segment in the region. In addition, the company’s long term commitment to invest in expanding its reach across the entire region through training, awareness building events and more resources on the ground has in turn helped us build a strong business case. Like SAP we too measure our success by our ability to capture new customers,” he said
According to Gartner, the global SME market is projected to grow by more than $1 trillion by 2014, with a five-year CAGR of 5.7%. This naturally means big opportunities for vendors and partners offering the latest IT solutions, with Forrester noting that the SME ERP market alone is expected to grow to $31.3 billion by 2014 at a CAGR 6.1%. //