SAP has announced today that its cloud-based Business ByDesign product is available for Australian customers.
The company is aiming the product at organisations that have 20 to 500 users, although SAP Business ByDesign ANZ partner manager Tim Wilkes said that larger organisations that had subsidiaries that weren't on SAP's business suite platform would also find business ByDesign helpful, as they could consolidate finances and synchronise master data with the Business Suite platform. He said that an example of this was BP: the company which was servicing BP's gas stations was on different systems, but moved onto ByDesign so that they could integrate.
Australian prices for the product start at $11 per month per user for self service and simple data entry, and rise to $197 per user for the "all-singing, all-dancing" version, according to Wilkes. There are currently three starter packs, one for customer relationship management, one for enterprise resource management and one for professional services.
Wilkes said that the company had deliberately set pricing at the same level internationally. The US pricing also starts at US$11 and moves up to US$199.
Users can go to the website and test drive the product with a local version, turning features on and off to get an idea of what they want, according to Wilkes. Implementation can take from one day to 12 weeks, according to Wilkes, depending on complexity.
Companies can integrate the modules with other products using the software development kit, according to Wilkes.
When asked about bait-and-switch-type discounts to try to steal customers from other users, Wilkes said that SAP was looking for customers who had already put their toe in the water of on-demand services, but not to steal customers from other companies.
"I don't think that's where the game's at," Wilkes said.
SAP sees the channel as being key to driving the product; however, it hasn't formally signed any local partners yet to its cause. Ahead of agreements being in place with the partners, implementations will go through SAP itself, Wilkes said. The organisation hopes to have four to five organisations signed up as partners by Christmas, with a second wave to follow after that.
Wilkes ran through a demo of the product, pointing out that the software works with a Facebook approach, notifying users of the activities that affect them.
"You can quite literally take an action and objective, assign it to someone and they get notified," he said.
Users can make changes to report by dragging and dropping variables, without asking for help from the IT department, he said. The software also has embedded help and a built-in native search capability.
"If I want to find anything in the system, I don't have to even know where in the system it is," Wilkes said.
The service is being hosted in a southern German datacentre, which has 1500 blade servers available now, with the ability to scale up to 4500 servers. SAP guarantees 99 per cent service levels, according to Wilkes.
There is remote backup, but there isn't remote failover to a separate site. However, Wilkes said that the facility was particularly secure and was located in "one of the most geologically stable regions" in the world.
Currently, there are no plans to have a local datacentre. SAP had been very aware of latency, according to the SAP executive, and had designed the application with it in mind, Wilkes said, adding that the product saw typically one-second or sub-second response times.
Wilkes said that the company currently has over 500 customers on the product globally, although it hasn't come to the launch with any Australian customers. The smallest client has around 10 users, and the largest client has round 1500 users.
Data always belongs to the customer, according to a clause in the contract, Wilkes said, with the company keeping user data free for three months after the company leaves, to aid in migration.
SAP uses follow-the-sun personnel for support, he continued, adding that the nearest support centre was in China. However, for level-zero support, users would be directed to an expert user, which would be from a partner.
SAP's aim is to become the number-one software as a service provider in the world by 2015. When asked about SAP's late arrival into the Australian market (it launched in the US and Germany back in 2007), Wilkes only said that SAP had always had very lengthy test and ramp-up periods.
"There was always a plan to do a careful and deliberate roll-out of the architecture to get it right," he said.
Despite the late start, SAP was confident of traction because of the integration involved in the SAP package, with users being able to add modules as they required, and because of the mobility of the product. Mobile apps are now available on the Apple app store, Wilkes said.
The company pointed to the 85,000 small to medium-sized businesses in Australia that would be interested in the product. Wilkes saw the sweet spot as professional services and wholesale distributors. Partners could make apps for specific industries, Wilkes said, which would reside on the SAP ByDesign app store.
SAP's customer target for the product is 1000 customers globally by the end of the year, which Wilkes said was "eminently obtainable". Wilkes wouldn't break down what that would mean in terms of Australian customer acquisitions.