The SAP approachSo what is SAP providing to its customers, particularly SMEs, that it sees as a USP? Rodolpho Cardenuto, president for global partner operations at SAP, believes SMEs are facing two key issues in today’s economy. The first is managing inventory, with the second being dealing with customers. “Retailers want to work out how to reduce costs and treat customers better. Professional services organisations need to keep track of people in the field and make sure their interactions are good,” he told Real Business. “It’s all about giving small businesses the same tools and services that large organisations have – levelling the playing field. Before, technologies were dividing as it came down to affordability.” SAP’s sell here, Cardenuto alluded to, is it’s ability to invest heavily to keep up with innovation. SMEs, he believes, are not after the cheapest option but rather the best services that are ultimately deemed affordable. Travis Ryals, director of information technology at Texas-based Seno Medical Instruments, is a user of SAP products and said engaging with the software provider served as a “levelling action” – bringing it into the playing field of larger enterprises. “We have various sales models, some of which we do ourselves and some by others. Without the ability to bring everything together it wasn’t affordable. It’s about accelerating your journey to market,” he added. “When we chose a product, one of the driving factors was the maturity of SAP. It was bringing in 40 years worth of knowledge verses some startup with new technology. We had trust in them that they’d be there next year.” Joe Leimer is helping build a very different business kind of business to Ryals. Design Resources, based in Kansas City, is in the apparel space and works with companies including Nike to produce branded merchandise. Using SAP, Design Resources has been able to develop integrations between its divisions to make a “high-touch, service-orientated offering smarter”. “For IT, it’s about how we streamline those processes – as they are very friction-based. We look for partners that have the capacity for us as we scale and grow,” he said. “Our challenge is to streamline our processes. It starts early on – some of our retailer orders are still done in Excel.”
Innovating with friendsTaking up an entire floor at SAP’s Hudson Yards development is its Leonardo Center – gazing out over familiar sights such as the Empire State Building, Madison Square Gardens and the Hudson River. Bringing together startups, corporations, partners and universities, it’s billed as a hotbed for “digital inspiration and co-innovation”. SAP Leonardo showcases with IoT, machine learning, blockchain, big data, analytics, data intelligence and cloud as “key ingredients” for digital transformation, making digital “tangible”. Our tour around the 48th floor of the Hudson Yards building, where the innovation unit is housed, seemed to back up SAPs claim that one of its unique selling points is its ability to innovate quickly and provide smaller businesses with the technology and tools that were once the reserve of big corporations. While there was something distinctly un-SME about the Hudson Yards set-up (it’s contained within the largest private real estate project in the US), the feeling SAP is providing a very different offering for smaller businesses was evident throughout our visit there. As another SME customer told us over lunch: “I had worked for a large software vendor before and didn’t want us to be a small fish in a big pond.” It seems SAP is banking on some of these goldfish becoming sharks.
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