SAP targets startups to widen reach

Enterprise software giant taps its Startup Forum platform, which offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to scale their business using HANA appliance, to broaden its brand appeal and customer demographics.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--SAP is widening its reach and brand appeal to startups with its Startup Forum initiative, which aims to empower entrepreneurs through its HANA in-memory computing appliance and offer them the opportunity to tap the software vendor's enterprise customer pool.

Simon Dale, head of technology and innovation at SAP Asia-Pacific Japan, said the Startup Forum was launched in March this year and has since been brought to Palo Alto in the United States, London, U.K., and Israel's Tel Aviv in Europe. In Asia, India's Mumbai and China's Shanghai have played host to the event and Australia will be its next port of call.

Speaking at the Forum held here Thursday, Dale said such platforms allow startups from all verticals to gain more information on what HANA can do for their businesses. The invite-only event offers startups in Singapore the opportunity to create tools that manage big data in real-time, and the most promising ones will be selected to go for the software company's development accelerator, he said.

Elaborating, he explained that the accelerator is a two-day training session to equip participants on how to make use of and find business value from HANA for specific internal processes and customer-facing services. This session will take place in two weeks' time and there are currently 20 places up for grabs, although Dale hopes to invite 5 to 6 people who participated in today's Forum to the training program.

Besides training, the development accelerator will also provide free software, service support up to a year, and certification on SAP technologies valued at US$65,000, he added.

Outstanding startups will also get the chance to be one of 20 participants globally to present their business innovations at SAP's Sapphire event later this year, which will bring together many of the software giant's 200,000 customers, he pointed out.

They could also access SAP Ventures' funding, which launched the US$155 million SAP HANA Real-Time Fund in April this year and is meant to identify and cultivate startups capable of delivering high-quality software to solve real-world problems using HANA, Dale noted.

He acknowledged HANA implementations tend to be conducted only by bigger enterprises, but the German software vendor now provides flexible, pay-per-use procurement methods tailored for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to meet their needs in a cost-effective manner.

Startups see value
One startup present at the Forum Thursday was Nubefy, the cross-platform IT service management company which was awarded S$1 million (US$801,263) from the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF) for being the most investible startup in the contest.

Nubefy CEO Eric Meyer told ZDNet Asia HANA's capabilities play well with the startup's monitoring service. He said Nubefy provides a service aimed at allowing companies to track the activities of their virtual machines across their various cloud networks. The embedded monitoring tool is able to store data in intervals of 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15, minutes, and so on.

Given the sheer volume of data which it collates and dissects each day, Meyer said the real-time computing of data stored means customers are served their information faster. Nubefy will also cut down on storage costs as it will not need to store computed data besides the most up-to-date information captured, he explained.

Similarly, Darryl Dickens, chief marketing officer of mobile loyalty service provider Pointpal, recognizes the potential that HANA brings to its business.

While the startup currently does not provide data analysis as a service to its customers, HANA's real-time analytics could allow them to crunch data to help deliver promotions to consumers' smartphones based on their location and proximity to the outlets offering the promotion, Dickens noted.

The ability to analyze customer demographics and identify where they purchase their products means Pointpal can better advise customers, which include Subway or Stella Artois, on where to open their next retail outlets, he added.

Both startups told ZDNet Asia the stated use cases are still exploratory and they have yet to implement HANA within their existing IT infrastructures.

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