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SAP catches more channel religion

SAP's new SAP Global Professional Services Organization will be a welcome addition for top-tier integrators and consulting firms, says this opinion piece.

NEW YORK -- In its long history in Europe and its shorter time in the US, packaged application giant SAP has not been known as the friendliest of channel partners.

The company was built on a direct sales model and worked hard to keep as much revenue internally as possible.

Large consulting firms managed to work with SAP because they had the trust of a golden client list, and companies such as EDS, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, IBM Global Services and PricewaterhouseCoopers have made a lot of money off integrating and implementing SAP-based systems.

Even so, much of the consulting and integration work, especially in Europe, has been funneled to SAP Systems Integration (SAP SI), a company SAP has a majority stake in. Now the company has decided to form a new internal division to help external partners get SAP solutions up and running and, in essence, compete better with SAP SI.

The new unit will be called the SAP Global Professional Services Organization. It was set up to work with SAP's multinational consulting partners, including Accenture, Atos Origin, Siemens Business Services and Hewlett-Packard. While SAP SI works as a systems integrator for both SAP and third-party products (essential for jobs where the company is the lead contractor on a large system), the Global PSO will focus only on systems built around SAP's software. As the division's name implies, this new team will target global-level customers, leaving the more regional customers to SAP's numerous regional services groups.

"Our goal is to keep the ratio of our consulting revenues at its current level," SAP cochairman and CEO Henning Kagermann said in a statement.

"However, we are aiming to increase the efficiency of our professional services organizations and, most important, to establish a leading-edge PSO with a skill set ideally suited for our customers' global projects and their demanding needs for leading-edge consulting."

This means that the Global PSO will be a welcome addition for top-tier integrators and consultancies. For this elite group, the task of getting qualified, talented SAP experts to lend a hand on major projects just got easier. While this is not a revolutionary change, it does show a new attitude at SAP, one that really recognizes the value of partners. If SAP is serious about tackling small and medium-sized enterprise accounts, that attitude must be extended to include smaller VARs and regional integrators -- the very people who know smaller companies the best.

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