SAP's Greg Tomb: We Will Be De Facto Cloud Computing Leader

Nicholas Mukhar

February 2, 2012

3 Min Read
Zoom's Greg Tomb
Zoom's Greg Tomb

sap greg tomb

SAP caught most of us by surprise at the end of 2011 by acquiring SuccessFactors, a Human Capital Management (HCM) and SaaS vendor, for $3.4 billion. Now, SAP President of Cloud On-Demand Sales and Go-To-Market Greg Tomb (pictured) is making some bold claims about SAP’s long-term cloud strategy.

“Three years from now, we will be the de facto leader in the cloud,” Tomb predicted as he outlined three ways through which SAP will accomplish that goal:

  1. Acquisitions that deliver immediate value: Such as the SuccessFactors deal.

  2. Software Development: SAP currently has roughly 3,000 cloud developers working on cloud-based business applications.

  3. Sales: SAP is in the process of bringing aboard some 350 sales representatives just to sell cloud applications.

According to Tomb, businesses are now confident enough in the safety of cloud environments to take large parts of their business and move them to the cloud. And more than a year ago, SAP business customers were already moving applications to the cloud.

“We started seeing businesses really ramping up over two years ago,” Tomb explained. “There’s been so much movement of applications to the cloud. Companies are now comfortable with clouds security and they love the cos savings.”

SAP and Customer Acquisition

SAP currently has 176,000 business customers today ranging from SMBs to larger enterprise, and Tomb said the company plans to add another 5,000 or so in 2012 alone. Those customers will come from the U.S. and Asian markets, which Tomb said are very open and moving rapidly toward the cloud, as well as the European market that Tomb is behind in cloud computing because of lingering worries over security and privacy.

The SuccessFactors acquisition will play a large role in SAP meeting that customer acquisition goal. Tomb was reluctant to talk much about the the acquisition because it hasn’t quite been finalized, but he did that SuccessFactors fills in significant holes in SAP’s business offering.

“SAP has traditionally focused on things like payroll management, benefits and employee management,” said Tomb. “SuccessFactors focuses on talent management, compensation management and learning management.. We didn’t focus on these things originally. Now we have a world-class answer for any company.”

SuccessFactors aside, Tomb said that acquisitions won’t play as large a role in dominating the cloud marketplace as what Tomb called, “SAP’s robust portfolio,” which includes SAP sales, sourcing, travel and carbon impact all on demand; SAP Business ByDesign; and cloud collaboration solutions like SAP Streamwork and Crossgate.

SAP and the Channel

SAP also has over 200 international channel partners that will be a pivotal part of its cloud strategy. According to Tomb, SAP’s cloud apps are “natural for channel partners to sell,” and he expects  SAP will turn a portion of its cloud application portfolio completely over to its channel partners at some point in 2012 so that the channel can handle the small to mid-market sales. SAP is also planning to add more channel partners, particularly in India, Brazil, Mexico and other markers that are heave in SMB and mid-market companies.

“We like the channel selling to companies under $500 million in revenue,” Tomb said. “When it comes to Fortune 2000 and over, we like to do that directly.”

SAP and Mobile Apps

No surprises on the development side of the house for SAP. Tomb said customers are migrating from desktops to tablets and that SAP is “sensitive about making apps that are intuitive.” Translation? SAP is is going mobile.

“We start with the tablet when designing applications, then we work back to the desktop,” Tomb said. We can expect to hear more mobile application development news from SAP in the next few months.

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