My past experience with BusinessOne is of a solution that was relatively stagnant in the market, of less than competitive functionality and suffering from performance issues. That was two years ago. Today, the product is improved from every angle. Performance has been beefed up significantly, quality has improved but most important, smart VARs have figured the current iteration provides a genuinely viable alternative to Microsoft products. Korey Lind, CEO of NJ based ThirdWave Business Systems which offers both Microsft and SAP products offered this perspective:
"All of my passion is with SAP. They have an active support program. By comparison, it is three years since I heard from Microsoft which I think sees me as just another profit center. From the customer standpoint, the perception now is that upgrading Microsoft is more complex. It seems to me that customers are getting more frustrated. Anyone who doesn't look into Microsoft infrastructure as part of their upgrade evaluation is going to be in for a rude surprise."
Asked to elaborate, Lind added: "In one implementation, upgrading Microsoft requires going through 175 screens. We're finding that BusinessOne is much quicker - typically a day or less. All of this adds up to a lower TCO. A typical 'power' style user on BusinessOne is paying $2,975. The equivalent Microsoft offering will cost $3,800."
Even so, Lind warns that getting up to speed with BusinessOne requires a significant investment: "There are always four ways to do things and it's important to learn which scenario works best. You have to put the time in to offer the customer the best solution."
Asked to identify the typical customer profile, Lind says she finds the best fits comes from distribution style businesses that have legacy Unix and home grown systems rather than the QuickBooks/Intuit upgrader.
All of this sounds good but SAP has a long way to go. Even with 1,100 VARs in 40 countries, it has only just passed the 20,000 customer level after five years in the market. What is different is that SAP is emerging as a brand leader that has shed its 'big ticket only' image that would exclude many potential customers in the SME space. Last word to Lind: "SAP's brand is really important. It makes a difference but is backed by a competitive product."