SAP keeps door open to large enterprises

SAP's war on the small-to-medium enterprise space isn't a result of opportunities in its traditional market shrinking, according to new Australia and New Zealand managing director Alan Hyde.Hyde, in an interview with ZDNet Australia, denied the large enterprise market was saturated, with future opportunities limited for the business software giant.

SAP: Money still in big business SAP's war on the small-to-medium enterprise space isn't a result of opportunities in its traditional market shrinking, according to new Australia and New Zealand managing director Alan Hyde.Hyde, in an interview with ZDNet Australia, denied the large enterprise market was saturated, with future opportunities limited for the business software giant.

SAP's war on the small-to-medium enterprise space isn't a result of opportunities in its traditional market shrinking, according to new Australia and New Zealand managing director Alan Hyde.

Hyde, in an interview with ZDNet Australia, denied the large enterprise market was saturated, with future opportunities limited for the business software giant.

He believes SAP's traditional marketplace is one of three areas that will drive its future growth and help it reach its global target of 100,000 customers by 2010.

"There's much more that we can do with large enterprises -- whether it be the banking sector, the public sector or utilities. The strategy isn't focusing on one sector at the expense of another. There are many customers who still have a lot of needs that we can help address," he said.

Despite the claims, SAP's global focus remains fixed firmly on the mid-market, which Hyde acknowledges.

Most companies in Australia by sheer number and volume would fall in the SME category, he admits. "Wherever you look there is only a small number of large companies at the top of any economy and a very large SME market, which is why this is a global strategy for SAP."

Hyde said SMEs and specialist solutions [that is business intelligence,as well as governance risk requirements and process integration using its Netweaver product] in combination with large enterprises, will help SAP reach its growth targets.

He is so sure that growth will be derived from these areas that one of his first jobs since taking over the reins as managing director from his predecessor Geraldine McBride -- who took up the role of regional president of SAP Asia Pacific last November -- was to organise the business along industry segment lines.

Following Hyde's re-organisation, SAP Australia maintains three business units: large enterprises, small and medium enterprises and specialist solution sales

In a swipe at SAP's biggest competitor, Oracle, Hyde told ZDNet Australia that SAP's global strategy was to grow organically and not through acquisitions [alone], and the local re-organisation is a good example of this.

He is adamant that SAP won't change its thinking anytime soon. "Why would we change? I quite frankly would see it as a backward step if we started to pursue the catch-up strategy [growth through acquisition] of Oracle's and be left with a legacy of trying to weave all this stuff [the product sets] together," he said.

Hyde was kinder on Microsoft, who competes against SAP in the customer management relationship (CRM) space with its Dynamics product.

More recently SAP and Microsoft have cranked up their Duet software partnership with plans for the next versions of the business applications project. Duet allows users to access SAP applications through Microsoft Office.

It is partnerships such as this that provide the impetus for Hyde's claims that large companies like SAP and Microsoft can be both friend and foe.

"It's clear in some markets that we're going to compete very aggressively and in other markets we'll collaborate," Hyde said. "I think that mature attitude is a real benefit to SAP's customers because many use Microsoft [in their business]."

So will we see SAP collaborate with Oracle in the future? "Not in my lifetime," said Hyde.

He also touched on the departure of SAP's second in charge Shai Agassi. Hyde said he was not shocked at Agassi's leaving, claiming "changes happen all the time".

It won't change SAP's game plan, however, according to Hyde. "Quite frankly in some respects it's a shame to see Shai go, but SAP will continue on.

"There's a lot of tremendous people, particularly in the development group where Shai worked. I think he contributed a lot to SAP while he was here, but SAP is much bigger than one individual," he said.