SAP offers finance help, SMB software discounts, new software packages

SAP yesterday rolled out a program to help SMBs with financing and new software packages for enterprise customers.

SAP is offering financing help and discounts on its software for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) -- the segment whose abrupt halt in spending sank SAP's third quarter earnings.

It's also selling seven special software packages geared to helping enterprise-size companies weather the economy, complete with implementation services and financing as low as 0% for 12 months. The packages, some of which can be deployed in a matter of weeks, include software for managing cash, liquidity and financial risk, managing the workforce through rapid change, and business planning and consolidation.

It's all part of the vendor's "Best-Run Now" initiative, offerings that SAP's Jeff Stiles said he and SAP executive Bill McDermott designed during the last few weeks, as the worldwide economic crisis worsened, hitting even SAP itself. SAP pulled together the packages and offers specifically to help customers better deal with the economic conditions, Stiles said, and make it easier for large companies and SMBs alike to buy and deploy SAP software.

"We need to do something in this economy to extend a hand to our customers," said Stiles, who is vice president of marketing for SAP's SMB division. "We need to demonstrate leadership in the market now."

"We're trying to take reasons not to buy off the table and make it compelling for them to get moving now," he said. "If you can take some of the uncertainty out of the discussion -- in [SMBs], the financing options are very important -- if you can take that off the table, that's really helpful."

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The inability to secure financing was the major reason SMBs delayed planned purchases during the last two weeks of September, according to SAP. Because of that -- executives said during the company's earnings announcement Tuesday -- SAP needed to find 200 million euros (about $250 million) in savings and increase software and software-and-services-related revenue in the 20% to 22% range in order to meet its operating margin goals.

In addition to help with financing, incentives for SMBs include a discount of up to 20% on Business All-in-One, SAP's software for midsized businesses, and special license deals for Business Objects software, including an offer for Business Objects Edge Professional edition – purchase five concurrent access licenses in a Rapid Mart and get one free.

For enterprise-size companies, there are also -- in addition to the packages mentioned above -- software packages for accelerating savings in procurement, energy data management, a business intelligence accelerator and a package for optimizing IT operations, including third-party solutions most leveraged in SAP upgrades and deployments.

But should customers continue to spend on software in a down economy?

"These offerings represent sound and timely IT investments that bring value by providing the kind of functionality companies need to invest in to improve efficiencies and achieve cost savings," Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, said in a press release. "SAP's special package offering will be a welcome option for customers that recognize IT's essential role in meeting the needs of a challenging marketplace."

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