Q&A with Helen Masters
Friday, April 01, 2011
As SAP ANZ’s VP of commercial accounts and emerging markets, Helen Masters is responsible for the company’s channel business, including growing SAP’s market share in the SME sector. She spoke to Freya Purnell about SAP’s strategy in this area, and technology developments including the release of the longawaited Business ByDesign.
FP: SAP ANZ has recently undergone a restructure – what are your areas of responsibility now?
FP: What is SAP’s current strategy for the SME sector?
HM: For Australia, I have now taken over responsibility for the direct go-to-market area for a large number of commercial accounts. I also look after our indirect channel team, inside sales, and a new division called customer relationship management, which is a central point of contact for all of our commercial accounts within Australia.
HM: It’s all about coverage. Partners are local, and they provide a greater knowledge of our customers’ business and their requirements. So therefore we believe that it drives a better outcome for the customer if they engage with our partner network, and we openly promote and encourage our ecosystem to work with small and medium enterprises.
FP: What type of support are you providing to members of the ecosystem serving SMEs?
HM: We have put in place a new enablement strategy which encapsulates a partner university. It’s an online solution that enables us to provide a tailored training approach for each of the individual partners, including pre-sale, sale and consulting training. As they have new employees come online, partners can run them through a complete training profile we have created for them – like an onsite boot camp. We can also help with some onsite training.
FP: How will that lift their capability level to service the SME market?
HM: It expands their solution knowledge, and we also help raise knowledge of what’s available within SAP – our industry business units, all of our solution advisers, and our support centre. Everything that is available to an SAP employee is also available to our partner ecosystem as well.
FP: What are the key challenges that SMEs are facing around technology and what are you doing to assist with those?
HM: SMEs really want to consume products and services a lot more quickly and cheaply. Therefore our sales and our partners need to provide the solutions that match those requirements. For example, we need to be agile enough to change and deliver results within a 60- to 90-day period. Previously people saw SAP as this big Germanic company that would take forever to implement a system. But we have now come out with rapid deployment solutions and our business analytic solutions which are prepackaged, preconfigured solutions that we can deliver in 60 to 90 days. They are quick to deliver an outcome so that customers and prospects can actually see results very, very quickly.
FP: It’s been a year since the SAP Extended Business Program was introduced in Australia – what results have you seen coming out of that program?
HM: This seems quite successful. We have now got a network of business members selling our solutions including our A1 solution and our BusinessObjects solutions. Given the success, we’ve recently extended our program to include our Business One applications, which is our SMB solution. So we continue to invest in the program as it provides a greater market coverage, and it exposes new partners to SAP solutions.
FP: What are the key technology developments coming out of SAP that SMEs should be aware of at the moment?
HM: In our on-premise environment, we continue to invest in our core solutions. We are upgrading our BusinessObjects environment. In our on-demand space, we have released Sales On-Demand, CRM On-Demand, and Carbon Impact On-Demand. Our on-device mobile strategy continues to explode. We have got customers needing to secure mobile devices – for example, their executives are leaving iPads in the back of cabs, so the IT department needs to remotely secure and shut down the devices. Our HANA in-memory computing is the major game-changer for us. This is going to be disrupting traditional database thinking in a huge way. So they are all major initiatives that are coming out of SAP at the moment and are really moving the market forward. Plus our rapid deployment solutions especially for the SME marketplace, implementing something within 60 to 90 days and delivering outcomes very quickly in a cost-effective manner.
FP: Do you have an update on when we might see the Business ByDesign solution in Australia?
HM: We are hoping Business ByDesign will be available here in around Q3 this year, and launch dates will be confirmed shortly. We are actually finalising localisation testing as we speak and we are reviewing the latest release, so it is imminent and it’s very exciting.
FP: What do you think the response is going to be to that product in the Australian market?
HM: Especially for the SME market, I think it will take off. The Australian and New Zealand market is quite primed for it. The SME market is looking for low-cost, quick turnaround products, they don’t want to spend money on infrastructure, so I think it’s going to be a perfect option.
FP: Do you think people might be a bit cautious, given the history of the product’s launch?
HM: I agree wholeheartedly, but we have already got quite a bit of interest. I am just building a team up at the moment. We’re actively recruiting new partners to help us sell [Business ByDesign], because it’s a a different market and a different selling style as well. So you will see us active out in the market in the next few months, and hopefully in the second half of the year, we’ll be out to market with a vengeance.
FP: Looking forward, what are your predictions on how SMEs will consume technology in the future, and how solutions will be implemented?
HM: I think it’s very difficult to predict. We will continue to see a mix of on-premise and on-demand because a lot of customers feel more comfortable with being able to walk outside their office, touch it, feel it, and see it, whereas others are comfortable consuming in the cloud. We have got customers that use a mix, so with their non-critical areas like reporting, they will use our BI On-Demand in the cloud, but for their financials, they must have on-premise. Whereas some customers are more than happy to just go totally on-demand and host everything up in the cloud.
FP: If we do see that move to the cloud by many companies, do you think there will still be as strong a role for the ecosystem around system implementation?
HM: Absolutely. The ecosystem will still have a role to play, albeit maybe a different role. Most of our partners are making different styles of transition, but as I said, there’ll still be significant organisations that will either have a mix of both on-premise and on-demand, or will want to just be on-premise consistently. I don’t think we’ll ever see onpremise leave our shores completely.
FP: Any other comments on what you are doing in the SME space?
HM: It is certainly an exciting space for us. It has come through some difficult times, and we are really starting to see a resurgence in the market, which is great.
This article was first published in Inside SAP March/April 2011.