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SAP AG (NYSE:SAP) has announced its new Smart Business Solutions program for the small and medium business (SMB) market. The program addresses distinct segments of this market based on the degree of IT sophistication customers require with regard to industry- and customer-specific application functionality. For "sophisticated" SMBs with a high need for individualization and industry-specific functionality, SAP is globally expanding its existing strategy of offering industry-specific SMB solutions. These are based on and are tailored, configured and complemented by SAP channel partners. For "advanced" SMBs, which require less sophisticated individualization and industry-specific functionality from their IT solutions, SAP is introducing a new application that it will indirectly market to this segment. In charge of the development and support of these SMB solutions will be a newly formed Business Unit (BU SMB) at SAP.

SAP will support its channel partners by providing training and by facilitating the transfer of relevant customization and development knowledge, creating synergies and efficiencies worldwide. In addition, the existing SAP indirect sales organization will also strengthen its support to channel partners with their international marketing and lead-generation activities in this market segment.

The new product for advanced SMBs provides small and medium businesses with an integrated family of advanced enterprise applications tailored to the specific needs of sales-driven companies. It addresses the core operational needs of SMBs, such as accounting and banking, financials and customer relationship management, purchasing and selling, logistics and product trees, as well as reporting and analysis. It also provides analytical tools to gain insight into an organization's operations, online alerts for collaborative event tracking and problem solving, and customizable reports that give companies the information they need in a format that allows them to brand their business.

The solution will be based on TopManage, a product currently developed and marketed by Israeli software company TopManage Financial Solutions LTD. SAP has acquired the assets of TopManage and will integrate them into the newly formed Business Unit for the SMB market (BU SMB) which will support the further development of Smart Business Solutions from SAP and its partners and assist SAP partners in delivering customized, industry-specific solutions.

The easy-to-use solution provides an intuitive interface with Drag&Relate capabilities and strong integration with desktop applications. Drag&Relate capabilities allow users to drag information between different data sources and link them on the desktop.

The solution supports the Microsoft SQL Server database and the Microsoft Windows operating system. Its open architecture will integrate with the e-business platform giving companies the adaptability to scale their applications with the growth of their business. The new SAP product will be available mainly via multiple indirect channels.

"The SMB market is not a uniform segment. The requirements of companies vary by region, by industry, and by number of employees, which in turn define their `IT intensity', that is the sophistication they require from an IT solution," stated Leo Apotheker, president of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and member of the Extended Management Board of SAP AG. "We now cover major segments of the SMB market with a diverse offering, which lives on the backbone of a company with 30 years of experience across all industries and an unparalleled viability. SAP's powerful visions of technology and business innovation will drive the success of the best-run SMBs."

The new product complements the existing offering of pre-configured vertical solutions available to small and medium organizations with sophisticated, industry-specific needs. These solutions are based on solutions, which are further refined by experienced SAP partners participating in a global partner program that expands upon the successful partner program.

SAP's Smart Business Solutions initiative will bring together the national SAP SMB partner programs into a global partner program that supports partners in developing solutions with a high level of quality, consistency, and scope. In addition, small and medium companies who have used local SAP solutions in the past will now be able to rapidly expand their systems internationally.

SAP will also expand their channel partner community worldwide, recruiting partners with industry-specific experience and a 100-percent focus on the SMB market. As part of the program, SAP will form partnerships with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that already provide multi-lingual software solutions for specific markets, but want to optimize development and maintenance by incorporating SAP's ERP core functions.
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Article Details
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Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Mar 18, 2002

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