When technology vendors look to make acquisitions, their solution provider channel must scrutinize the motives behind the deal and take a hard look at how that will impact their businesses. They want answers to two main questions: Will this acquisition increase opportunities and provide more expertise in a potentially lacking area? Or will it de-emphasize the channel and create competition with the vendor?
I followed deals over the years by Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), CA (CA) and others that were touted as channel-friendly but never actually materialized that way. But I’ve also seen each of these vendors funnel newly acquired technologies down to their channel partners.
However, when it comes to SAP, I really don’t question the company's motives. I've known many folks on its channel marketing team for years and the company has taken a long time to methodically build a loyal solution provider and ISV base. That is why when I look at its acquisition of Hybris, I look at it as not only a good technological fit for the company but a strong channel play as well.
SAP has been trying to penetrate into the enterprise e-commerce space for years, but not very successfully. Buying Hybris gets the company there, fast, and this is good for solution providers. It’s been a glaring missing piece of SAP's enterprise strategy and building it internally wasn’t going to get it there fast enough.
This deal now puts SAP into the same arena as IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL) and even eBay (EBAY) It makes the company as strong in this area as it is in ERP and CRM and gives its channel a complete enterprise e-commerce integration offering. This is key for solutions providers giving them the opportunity to strengthen their customer relationships as well as becoming a stronger SAP partner.
For the immediate future, SAP said it is planning to run Hybris as a separate business, therefore probably keeping its current sales force and maybe even investing in it. The company also said it will continue to offer Hybris as a standalone product; however, the real value will be in integrating it as a component of its ERP and CRM offerings. Again, SAP is saying Hybris sales will not be required to be tied into its other products, but obviously there are efficiency and integration benefits to do so for the channel.
While SAP has a strong channel for its CRM and ERP lines, Hybris also has a large channel base of partners. Some of these partners overlap, specifically on the big integrator side such as Accenture, which will make integration that much more easy.
So overall, I view the SAP-Hybris deal as good move for SAP to round out its enterprise offerings and get the vendor into the e-commerce space in a serious way. I also see it as a good move for SAP’s existing partner base, as well as Hybris’.
Knock 'em alive!