SAP's PartnerEdge Bigger than Mendicino and Home Depot DealsBy Elliot Markowitz | Print
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Opinion:SAP made a lot of big announcements during its Sapphire event in Boston, but the most significant was the launch of its PartnerEdge program.During its Sapphire event in Boston this week SAP AG made public some very big news, including a development deal with Microsoft Corp. that will result in a joint product with Outlook called Mendicino and some big customer commitments such as Home Depot accelerating its technology strategy.
But the most significant of all the software developer's announcements was the rollout of its PartnerEdge Channel Partner Program. PartnerEdge could be the biggest factor in its growth going forward.
While SAP has primarily been known as an enterprise player, the company is going after the sweet spot in the industrythe small/medium business spaceand doing it exclusively through the channel with an innovative program designed to reward VARs and integrators for their services and to push them further in this direction.
VARs will be recognized and rewarded by the vendor for their solutions and not for last-minute product pushing to make a quarterly number. What a novel concept.
SAP is also building a Partner Solution Network portal to be used by its channel partners to list their services and expertise and build out micro sites, all in an effort to encourage collaboration and partnering. This will also bring in Value Points. The site will be managed by SAP's Channel Advisory Council, with some functionality to be ready by June.
However, it's not just the program's architecture that impresses me, but also the way the company is approaching the marketplace. While at Sapphire I met with Donna Troy, senior vice president, Global Small & Medium Business; Ira Simon, vice president, Channel Marketing; and Dan Kraus, vice president, SAP Business One, and they all passionately described in much detail the program itself, what went into building it and where it is heading. They are all taking the same language, and what's more, so are their bosses at SAP corporate.
The entire company is completely aligned in this effort. SAP CEO Henning Kagermann talked about it during his keynote presentation, along with all the other big things happening around the company in terms of joint development efforts with the likes of Microsoft, IBM, HP, Intel and others.
Leo Apotheker, president of Customer Solutions for SAP and board member, hammered the point home during a global press conference saying: "[PartnerEdge] is built on a foundation of programs we have. It's a good time to shift gears and take it to the next level." He went on to say that the program's "framework is to help business partners" and offers rewards for long-term customer relationships. "Our intent is for our partners to make money, to focus on quality and not quantity."
I have to tell you, this is a breath of fresh air. Hearing this clear concise message from the powers-that-be at SAP corporate is a big shot in the arm for the company's channel development effort.
This is also important because the company is building this channel plan from scratch. The benefit is that it does not have to redo or correct anything, but it does take time, money and patience. Marketing, support, training and even the technology infrastructure are all important investments that need to be made on the front end before any ROI is realized by the company. Having the support of corporate SAP goes a long way in giving the channel executive team the time and resources it needs to successfully build PartnerEdge. This is not lost on these executives by the way.
"Are we about volume or saturation? No," said Troy. "Our objective is to build loyalty. We think of the channel as VCs. We are building an ecosystem, and it takes time and an investment. I am very empowered by SAP, and there is 100 percent buy-in across the board. Everyone at SAP is in on this," she said.
With this type of support, SAP should have the necessary time and resources to build an effective SMB channel. Now it is time to execute.
In addition to being editorial director of Ziff Davis eSeminars, Elliot Markowitz is also editor at large of Ziff Davis Internet's The Channel Insider.