SAP channel partners say that fixed product configuration allows buyers to know the exact cost up-front, and allows the partners to promise and fulfill a 90-day implementation cycle.
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SAP has packaged application software with services into Rapid Deployment Solutions that partners can offer to small- and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. The products are based on best practices and configurations that have been implemented and used in enterprise customer environments by SAP and their systems integrator partners.
"One of the concerns customers often have with enterprise software is that the cost of the software and delivery is going to be more than they anticipated," said Jamie Fryer, vice president of North American sales for Illumiti, an Ontario, Canada based SAP partner. "This gives them a comfort level with the product, and allows us to overcome a big objection."
There's a perception that SAP is for big companies. The RDS is the best way to bring the solution down market and address that perception.
vice president of North American sales, Illumiti
In the midmarket, budget is a main driver, Fryer said, and the preconfigured Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) allows partners and SAP to address the cost issue.
"With the Rapid Deployment Solution customers get a well-defined and structured solution that is easy to understand in terms of scoping and functionality with all the documentation, but is flexible enough to personalize on their own," said Brian Everett, director of midmarket solutions at itelligence Inc., a Cincinnati, Ohio-based SAP partner. "It offers a lot of good content right away, a lot of value realization right away, but also allows for flexibility in the future."
The midmarket customers want this innovation in a package that they can afford, making the RDS a good story, Fryer said.
"There's a perception that SAP is for big companies," Fryer said. "The RDS is the best way to bring the solution down market and address that perception."
The RDS can just be the starting point, and VARs can add to and expand the SAP RDS, or even create their own solution built around a RDS that can be certified by SAP, and offered to other customers who work with other partners.
"They gave us a building block and they've definitely been encouraging partners to expand it and make it more industry-specific and make it more of a true solution," Fryer said.
The partner solutions use best practices developed both by the partner and by SAP, and target a specific niche or industry, such as mining or heavy equipment manufacturing.
"We're taking it and we're adding in additional content based on our 20 years of experience in the midmarket," Everett said. "We're not manipulating any of the existing content, we're building on that and around it -- adding additional components that can make that Rapid Deployment Solution more useful."
Everett added that this effort allows value-added resellers to differentiate themselves from other SAP partners, giving them an edge over the competition.
Customer demands shape innovation in SAP RDS products
Much of the innovation in the Rapid Deployment Solutions is customer-driven, and what customers want from an enterprise resource planning tool has changed. In the past, customers just wanted to centralize and gather data, but now they want to be able to make decisions using the data, Everett said.
"That's where you get to a lot of innovations in this space, including data analysis and visualization," Everett said. "Also, addressing those needs any place with cloud and mobility. The next thing that is coming up in the future is the speed of that information -- high volume and data and how to crunch that data really fast. Just because a company is small doesn’t mean it doesn't have a high volume of data."
Customer demand around mobility is the big area that partners are working on now, developing applications in-house or partnering with a third-party developer. With SAP's strong relationship and investment in Apple products, the channel partners are interested to see the impact of Microsoft's Surface tablet in the market. This week, SAP announced it has developed a number of mobile apps that will work with Windows 8.
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