Orlando – In what an SAP channel executive is calling a process of evolution, SAP (Nasdaq: SAP) used its Sapphire user conference to invite Business Objects partners to join its PartnerEdge program, and launched a certification program for partners developing solutions that integrate Business Objects software.
Previously available just to SAP’s channel partners, the vendor has now made its PartnerEdge program available to all SAP ISVs and system integrators, as well as solution providers. That includes technology and service partners of BI vendor Business Objects, whose acquisition by SAP closed in January.
Patricia Hume, senior vice-president of the SAP indirect channel organization, says as SAP begins to integrate Business Objects these are the first steps in that process, and in the evolution of SAP’s channel program.
“We’re not today saying the Business Objects partner program is going away. We’re stating we will be evolving, and over time moving the Business Objects partners over into the PartnerEdge program,” said Hume. “The intent is to give Business Objects partners the opportunity to reach the benefits we’re proving in the PartnerEdge program.”
At the same time, Hume says SAP is also inviting its partners to join the Business Objects partner program and get trained on leveraging its BI tools in their SME solutions. Currently, Hume says there’s very little overlap between the two partner programs.
The decision for an evolutionary approach to merging the two programs seems “a bit wonky” to Paul Edwards, director, SMB and channel strategies with IDC Canada. He’d prefer to see SAP quicken the pace and have just one program to support all partners, rather than continue with what he calls a siloed approach and inviting partners to join both programs.
“It gets confusing and it doesn’t really drive cross-sell opportunities; you want to have an integrated program to do that,” said Edwards. “Getting everything under PartnerEdge is the way to go, and that’s probably their strategy in the long term.”
SAP also announced a program that will certify solutions from Business Objects technology partners that will assure clients the solutions have been tested and designed to integrate with the Business Objects platform.
To reach SAP’s goal of driving 45 per cent of its SME business in North America through the channel this year, Hume says SAP is actively recruiting partners in the region. However, Hume cautions SAP will still be valuing quality over quantity when it comes to partner selection.
“When we analyze the North American market by size and industry there’s certain areas we still need partner coverage such as retail, lumber, manufacturing and services.” said Hume. “The Canadian strategy is to recruit two national partners, those will be large partners with national reach, and the team has also looked at each of the territories and mapped out the number of new partners it wants across the portfolio.”
And the approach SAP and its partners will be tackling the SME with is one of micro-verticalization, says Hume, targeting businesses of 100 employees or less. In that space customer behaviour is different than in the mid market, she says. It’s important to not just look at the vertical, such as food and beverage or automotive, but dig deeper and have a tailored approach and solution for breweries or wineries, or brake producers.
When offering a vertical-focused offering more configuration and customization is needed, says Hume, as the business of a brewer is different than that of a winery. However, in micro-vertical the needs are generally the same across the segment, meaning SAP’s ISV partners can develop highly verticalized applications on-top of Business One that they can replicate and roll-out to many customers.
“We’re now building micro-vertical campaigns and demand generation initiatives to build awareness, and gain leads we can pass back to our partners,” said Hume.
The vendor has also already put an online catalogue in place, dubbed the P2P network, which details all the various micro-vertical applications that have been developed by SAP’s ISV partners, giving clients and SAP solution providers one place to shop for applications.