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SAP UK says partners are “our multiplier,” outlining a three-year transformation of the business.
February 17, 2021
SAP UK & Ireland’s chief partner officer says the vendor aims to double its channel revenue within three years.
As part of this, the vendor also wants to convert its midmarket business to 100% indirect by 2024.
“We have this very ambitious three-year transformation programme,” said Laura Atkinson.
Atkinson took up the role of CPO last month, reporting into SAP UK&I managing director Michiel Verhoeven. Their first step was to bring the entire partner ecosystem under one roof, under the direction of Atkinson.
SAP UK&I’s Laura Atkinson
“Inevitably, you have a stronger platform for growth under one leader than you might do under several,” said Atkinson. “But I also think there are lots of advantages to looking at our ecosystem holistically. Where are the gaps? Where’s the white space? Where do we need more industry coverage?
“How can we then go and purposefully recruit to fill the gaps?” she continued. “How do we look at the capacity and capability in our channel in a holistic way, rather than in multiple pockets around the business? It gives us a much better set of insights into the things we’re doing well, versus the things we need to fix.”
Although not revealing how much revenue comes from partners, Atkinson says it “underpins a huge chunk of the SAP business.”
“We have our big systems integrator (SI) partners: Capgemini, Accenture, Deloitte. We have our partners who resell SAP software and solutions. Also, we have solution extension partners like OpenText and DocuSign that create third party add-ons to SAP software. We have hyperscaler partners, so relationships with Microsoft, AWS and Google. Then we have our ISV partners, who we want to get creating incredibly cool SAP apps on our app store.
“In percentage terms, our SIs influence a huge percentage of our net-new business. Our resell partners, we are aiming for our midmarket business to be 100% indirect in three years. We want all that business being resold by partners. Over the last year there has been a huge increase in opportunities getting pushed through our app store for our ISV partners. So overall, the contribution to the UK business is profound by the partner ecosystem.”
Nevertheless, SAP wants to double this business as part of its transformation. The reason, said Atkinson, is that “partners are our multiplier.”
“We’re not going to hire loads more sales guys; we can’t scale to our market share ambition by ourselves. You’ve got to leverage the partner ecosystem to do that — in terms of pre-sales, in terms of transaction, in terms of delivery and delivering incredible customer outcomes. And in terms of renewals and ongoing support, and innovation.”
Atkinson outlined three ways SAP plans to drive activity in the channel throughout the transformation. The first is to increase SAP’s indirect business. While still a work in progress, the exec said she is building “a comprehensive growth plan.”
It will involve a “swim lane” strategy, however, where partners are segmented as to their industry expertise and knowledge.
“That approach has been massively beneficial for us because it’s helping partners focus,” said Atkinson.
The second step is around capacity and capability. This, she said, “hasn’t seen a huge amount of focus in our partner management” historically.
Atkinson said certification is “massively important,” and is an area where SAP is “really doubling down on this year.”
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“I’ve spoken to some small partners who have no certifications, and that’s really worrying. So, we want our customers to be quite demanding of the high level of certifications from the SAP ecosystem. And we need to push to make sure we’ve got as many well trained, well certified individuals as possible.”
The final area is based on innovation — again, not something SAP has historically led with, said Atkinson.
“We have a massively innovative partner ecosystem, which is wonderful. But we’re going to be much more purposeful in our evangelism to the developer community this year,” she said.
She outlined changes coming to how partners access to SAP learnings and certifications.
“We’re trying to make that a lot more accessible for the partners,” said Atkinson. “We intend to do a much richer local programme of technology.”
The CPO said she already has plans in place to start, should her “headcount dreams come true.”
Atkinson said it is “an amazing opportunity” to try to make a difference “with an already incredibly rich and successful ecosystem.”
“I don’t want to fix anything that isn’t broken. We’ve got a lot of stuff which works incredibly well at SAP. But there’s always room for improvement. We’ve got huge ambition for growth. So, it’s a real privilege to be able to do that,” she added.
Read more about:VARs/SIs
Contributing Editor, Channel Futures
Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.
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