Business Objects brings channel approach to SAP

Boston — Business Objects and its parent company, SAP (NYSE: SAP) have integrated their partner programs and are announcing their first integrated products. A Business Objects executive says though that non-SAP business will continue to be important and encouraged in its channel community.

In an interview Tuesday at the Business Objects Influencer Summit, Paul Clark, senior director, corporate product marketing with Business Objects, said since becoming part of SAP the Business Objects unit has been encouraging the company to embrace the value of the indirect model.

“A big part of our business has been classic channel business,” said Clark. “We’re sharing this whole model of what the channel can mean, who you sell to in the channel, how you can develop those relationships and what that can mean.”

The Business Objects partners have been rolled into the SAP program, and by and large Clark said the feedback from the partner base has been positive, with SAP being able to bring more weight and investment to the program than Business Objects was able to on its own.

Despite the integration at the partner level, and now also at the product level in some cases, Clark said sales of Business Objects as a front end to customers using something other than SAP on the back end will continue to be an important part of the business. Indeed, he notes that while SAP has long been the leader in the operational space less than 50 per cent of the historical Business Objects customer-base has used SAP on the back end.

“The majority of our business has always been non-SAP, and that’s not going to change going forward,” said Clark. “We want to make a strong point of saying we have a heritage of being heterogeneous. Any database, any application. That will continue.”

It was an open question whether, post-acquisition, the appeal of Business Objects to non-SAP customers would lessen said Glenn Gutwillig, executive partner of Information Management Services with Accenture. However, he said that hasn’t been the case.

“We’ve seen enormous brand loyalty amongst the Business Objects customers using non-SAP products. There’s been no dip in any category of Business Objects sales,” said Gutwillig. “We’re seeing a lot of demand in both the enterprise reporting side and the information management side.”

Still, Clark said there are advantages for the customer base and partners to selling Business Objects and SAP together. It’s another solution for the partner to take to market, and from a user perspective many companies are looking to standardize on one integrated platform.

The company also incentives partners to sell both offerings through programs such as Dimensions, a tiered points program aimed to incent and reward volume resellers the more they sell. Rebates are offered at end of each quarter based on sales, points and discounts.

One partner finding success by marrying SAP and Business Objects is IDS Scheer. The company’s Canadian arm was SAP Canada’s partner of the year last year and its managing director, Jason Mausberg, said after the Business Objects acquisition by SAP was announced they signed-up to sell Business Objects even before the partner programs were merged.

Mausberg said IDS Scheer had previous experience with Crystal Reports, and while it turned back to SAP on the front-end as its offerings there matured he liked the ease of use Crystal Reports offers for SMB clients.

“Their business optimization product was stronger than SAP’s from a front-end perspective,” said Mausberg.

Since the acquisition and joining the partner program Mausberg said IDS Scheer quickly began finding success pitching Business Objects to clients that wanted to implement a BI solution but felt SAP’s was a little more complicated than they were looking for.

The company recently won its first Business Objects implementation sale with Pinty’s Delicious Foods, a Burlington, Ont.-based provider of fresh and frozen chicken products to the retail and food service industries in Canada.

“It’s been very easy to do business with the Business Objects people, they’re very partner-friendly and oriented to the channel,” said Mausberg. “They also understand some of the key enablers for us to grow as partners, and that it’s not as simple as training and marketing materials. They’ve really taken the lead on implementation as well.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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