Just months after bringing on a new North America channel chief, SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) is looking to grow aggressively here by recruiting net new partners in certain focus areas and opening its enterprise accounts to business analytics partners.
John Graham, the company’s senior vice-president of ecosystem and channels for North America, took on the role in January after his predecessor, Kevin Gilroy, took on a global channel role for the German business software vendor.
“I haven’t made any major changes to the programs that Kevin had put in place,” said Graham, who also recently took on the COO role for North America. Instead, the plan is to put more dollars and resources into those existing programs.
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Last year, SAP set a goal to have 40 per cent of its overall global revenue derived from channel partners by 2015. That number is currently at 30 per cent. “We’re confident that the changes we’re making and how we’re approaching the market and giving partners the opportunity to sell into a broader base with SAP is going to allow us to get to those goals,” he said.
SAP has a vibrant customer base, but still needs to look at industries it hasn’t yet been targeting and emerging business areas, Graham said. With new technologies developed out of acquisitions such as software company Sybase Inc. in 2010, SAP can touch on some new opportunities.
“We have an opportunity with our partner channel to get into a whole set of industries where historically SAP has not been as dominant,” he said.
“We’re aggressively going after the mobility market,” Graham added. Mobility is already a growth area for the company, and it’s working on integrating products from the Sybase acquisition. Graham said he hopes to have at least 50 new partners in North America this year to go after the mobility opportunity.
In terms of business analytics, SAP already has a strong business, but wants to “reinvigorate” the channel by opening up more enterprise accounts to partners, Graham said. Currently, that part of the business has 120 North American channel partners. By the end of the year, Graham said he wants to double that.
“We’re going to give the business analytics partners the ability to sell into the enterprise space,” he said. The company has faced challenges with integrating BusinessObjects, and the large channel that acquisition brought with it. Its channel partners had had the opportunity to sell into any size account, but that wasn’t always the case with SAP over the last few years following the acqusition.
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“The span of the market that they could sell to was scaled back a bit, and we’re doing our best to open up that marketplace and allow them to be much more active in the enterprise accounts,” which SAP defines as greater than $500 million in revenue, Graham said.
Part of that initiative includes financial incentives for its direct sales team to drive business collaboratively with channel partners. SAP also has a team working on making its partner portal resources more in line with SAP’s internal sales information.
Allowing partners to cross-sell and build out broader SAP portfolios has admittedly been challenging, according to Graham. “What we’re looking to do is take many of the training and enablement solutions that we use internally…and make that available to the partner community.”
“Candidly, not all of our partners are equipped to be able to make that leap,” he said. Mark Milford, SAP’s vice-president of business development, will be looking for those partners who can broaden their scope of SAP offerings.
“I think what we’re going to need to be doing is finding net new partners,” Graham said. That recruitment will be focused on areas such as mobility, not its traditional business areas such as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) portfolio, where the growth potential is not as high.
“We’re really trying to be diligent to determine how they can best scale,” Graham said. Having partners try to offer more products outside of their expertise areas could end up just stretching them too far and diminishing their existing strengths. “You can’t be all things to all people,” he said. “I think most of the partners understand that.”