SAP makes new partner initiatives in Business ByDesign

With a view to both expanding the number of skilled ByDesign people available to partners, and sharpening partners’ ability to use and extend the solution, SAP has launched several ByDesign initiatives, including a partner enablement portal and collaborative tool, and a certification program through Open SAP.

SAP Michael Schmitt 300

Dr. Michael Schmitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager, SAP Business ByDesign

A year ago, rumours were still rife that SAP was going to shut Business ByDesign down. Compared to SAP’s other ERP solutions, SAP BusinessOne and SAP Business All-in-One, it had woefully underperformed. Instead, last fall SAP announced it had moved ByDesign to the HANA platform, given it its own general manager, and altered its go-to-market model to make it completely partner-centric. Now, the company is reporting that SAP is now on a solid growth path, and that it has launched new partner initiatives around the solution.

“We have been doing really great work with Business ByDesign and got it back on the growth path,” said Dr. Michael Schmitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager, SAP Business ByDesign.

Schmitt said that they made three fundamental changes.

“We gave it clarity in the portfolio as an upper midmarket solution, above SAP BusinessOne and next to a highly adjustable SAP Business All-in-One,” he said. “Before we had been selling it all over, including to some smaller customers, where it doesn’t make any sense. A company needs to have a certain complexity to benefit from it.”

The development strategy was also changed.

“We made it much clearer for partners what their value-add was and how they can add their own IP, and we also provided new tools to extend ByDesign,” Schmitt added. “We have also added development training tools so partners can publish what other partners developed.”

The third change was in the go-to-market strategy. While the majority of ByDesign business was going through partners even last year, SAP declared the channel was now the preferred go-to-market route.

“The amount of ByDesign business that goes through partners has gone from around 70 per cent to close to 90 per cent,” Schmitt said. “It will never be completely 100 per cent, because there will always be some exceptions who insist on direct, but we believe we have built a very trustful relationship with partners here.”

Schmitt said another key indicator for him was growing partner participation. Many of the approximately 260 ByDesign partners had become inactive, something Schmitt said was no surprise as the product’s fate was uncertain.

“Today, not all of these are completely active, but the number doing regular business has grown massively, and we are adding about 20 new partners per quarter,” he said. “Partners weren’t willing to invest until they had clarity. They clearly listened to the words, but they waited to see us execute as well. They didn’t just jump back on it after we made the announcement, although we had some partners – a few – who didn’t reduce their speed, and picked up their install base.” Navigator Business Solutions, an SAP Gold Partner with multiple locations across the U.S. and Canada, was one of these.

Now SAP is making some new initiatives in the Business ByDesign space public. They have built a new end-to-end partner enablement program for the solution.

“It is a portal, but it is really more than that,” Schmitt said. “There is a new learning room, which gives a real-time, on-demand collaboration way for partners to discuss ByDesign with SAP experts and with other SAP partners. It is designed to be very interactive, and it covers all roles, including sales, pre-sales, consultants, and developers. It also has different levels from starter, to refresher and more expert.”

In addition, the Business ByDesign element of Open SAP, a learning tool open to anyone, not just partner program members, has been strengthened.

“We put a course for developers on ByDesign on Open SAP to get more trained and senior developers, and we expected a couple hundred people to register on it,” Schmitt said. “Instead we got 3600 who registered.”

The course takes 8 weeks, with a test every week, and at the end, you have to develop an app on a Business ByDesign system to get the certificate.

“It’s a hard program, but if even 10 per cent make it, we have 360 new ByDesign developers,” Schmitt said. “We are thinking of putting more of these courses on, including new integration scenarios.”

Schmitt said that United VARs, a coalition formed by top SAP local partners, has also recently added Business ByDesign to the solutions they cover.

“They were mainly focused on on-prem and Business All-in-One, and in our discussions, we were able to get them to add a focus on Business ByDesign as well,” he said. “This strengthens us with a global player, and I’m proud I could convince them.”

Schmitt said that ByDesign can also now be localized for countries where that hasn’t been possible before, using their localization toolkit.

“We will also continue to strengthen the PartnerEdge program, and do all we can to help partners find enough certified people with needed Business ByDesign knowledge,” he said.