When it comes to buying software to run your small business, SAP may be among the last technology companies that sprint to mind. After all, the German software giant helps the largest and most complex organizations in the world to manage resources, to coordinate efforts and to move product.
SAP has roughly 300,000 customers globally, said Rodolpho Cardenuto, president of SAP global partner operations, during his company's recent SME Summit in New York City. "Ninety-eight percent of the top-value brands in the world" run their businesses using SAP software, he noted. "Seventy-five percent of the world's transactions go through an SAP system," he added.
SAP and Small Business
Impressive figures, but where do small and midsized businesses (SMBs) fit in? As it turns out, SAP is no stranger to SMBs.
During his presentation, Cardenuto revealed that "80 percent of our customers are what we call SMB customers." An estimated 240,000 customers fit the bill, he said. A significant number of them use the company's Business One software suite for SMBs. [Note: Panelists at the summit generally referred to small business as any company with up to 999 employees.]
Available on-premises or in the cloud, Business One is an integrated, user-friendly enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) product with accounting, procurement, inventory, and production management capabilities. This month, SAP announced that the software hit a major milestone.
Hernan Marino, senior vice president and the head of global partner operations mat SAP, told summit attendees that the company had scored its "50,000th SAP Business One customer." The solution, he added, "is one of the most widely adopted SAP products ever." Incidentally, that customer is ecommerce specialist iMerchandise from Connecticut.
To keep that momentum going, SAP is enlisting two of the most disruptive innovations in IT: the cloud and in-memory computing.
SAP Business One Cloud Powered by HANA
SMBs looking to streamline their ERP, CRM, and practically all facets of their operations have a new deployment option. SAP and its partner ecosystem now delivers Business One Cloud running on HANA through the companies own data centers.
HANA is SAP's in-memory database and application platform. It uses systems packed with several terabytes of server memory to overcome performance bottlenecks caused by fetching data from comparatively slower hard drives and storage components. The result is blazingly fast transactions, big data processing, business intelligence, and analytics.
Small businesses will be able to capitalize on those enterprise-grade capabilities, but in a package designed for ease of use, deployment, and management. And today's small businesses can use a little simplicity, if they plan to keep on growing.
A new study from Knowledge@Wharton, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania's online business journal, and SAP found that 72 percent of small business leaders and managers said business complexity hindered their ability to meet process- and decision-making goals. More than 30 percent of the survey's 433 respondents said complexity "strongly inhibited" their efforts. Fifty-eight percent specifically called out a patchwork of business technology solutions as the cause.
SMBs struggle with increasingly complex business software environments and, fortunately, most of them seem poised to start doing something about it.
Although only 49 percent of senior leaders said business simplification is strategically important today, 65 percent feel that it will become a priority within three years. Somewhat paradoxically, SMBs that simplify their business software environments now will be better equipped to handle today's complex marketplaces, according to Cardenuto.
"The interconnected global economy has opened opportunities to small businesses that never existed before, but they come with new challenges as well," he said in a prepared statement. "If these businesses think and plan from the beginning on how to run simple in the long run, they will grow faster and perform better."
SAP Business One Cloud Powered by HANA is available now in North America, to be followed by Europe and Asia in 2016.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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