SAP rolls out new partner initiatives at Global Partner Summit

The new initiatives build on the familiar strategic principles which were outlined in last year's next generation partnering initiative.

Today, in conjunction with the SAP Global Partner Summit, which is virtual this year, SAP is announcing its channel-centric news that it traditionally makes at its Partner Summit on the day preceding its SAPPHIRE event in Orlando. The focus this year is on new elements of their next generation partnering initiative. These include SAP Endorsed Apps, to further drive partner innovation, and a new Partner Delivery Quality Framework to improve partner economics. SAP is also bringing back free partner demos in preconfigured software demonstration environments to improve their profitability.

SAP announced their next generation partnering initiative a year ago at the Partner Summit which kicked off their SAP SAPPHIRE event.

“It was a new approach to helping partners be successful,” said John Scola, Global VP Cloud Channels & Strategy, at SAP. “It has three components: partner innovation; partner economics; and partner experiences.”

Partner innovation is about helping partners to innovate to grow their own base based on the use of IP.

“That’s super important,” Scola said. “That’s where the Endorsed Apps piece comes in.”

SAP Endorsed Apps, which is being announced today, is part of SAPs new Partner Solution Progression Framework, which is also being announced today. It is an invitation-only initiative for selected SAP partners who are already in SAP’s Partner Spotlight Program, and who meet SAP’s Premium Certification Requirements. It is essentially a validation for customers that the app has been fully tested and certified by SAP, and is made easy to find on SAP App Center.

“It’s a maturing of what we have been doing,” Scola said. “We’ve been working with partners to develop apps in the past, particularly with our Solex partners. The task was how can we beef that up, make it more industrialized and attract more developers. We have made some changes to the SAP App Center to make it more robust, and have added additional search capabilities. These will wrap that into the partner experience as well.”

“The SAP App Center is now a whole new experience, based on partner feedback,” said Anne Yi, General Manager, SAP App Center.

The SAP App Center is now in its third year, with more than 1500 partner solutions in it. Last year it delivered a  27% increase in site traffic, and a 4x increase in business. Yi said that the changes should drive even higher rates of growth. SAP App Center adds about 12 new solutions a week and re-evaluates existing ones, with solutions being reassessed every second year, resulting in a smaller number being delisted.

“The changes to App Center drastically improve our search capability,” Yi said. “We now have  simple intuitive search and discovery, by category, by technologies, and by certification level, including the eight Endorsed Apps. Customers go directly to product pages with a clean modern design and call to action. Partners also have a new homepage with a new Business Partner Cockpit that has everything all in one place.”

The second element of the strategy, partner economics, builds on the Cloud Choice profit model that SAP has offered since 2017.

“It’s about how we help our partners drive profitable growth, and how we create models like Cloud Choice to continue to grow partner opportunity,” Scola said.   “The Partner Delivery Quality Framework is a new example here. It is about driving consistency of implementations as our offerings got more complex. Partners lose money when an implementation goes awry and they have to redo delivery, at their expense. Those resources are expensive.”

Another component here being announced today is free global access for partners to integrated, preconfigured software demonstration environments to expedite sales conversations. Partners initially qualify for SAP Partner Demo Environment, shared option.

“This is a shared demo environment that multiple partners can leverage,” Scola said. “We now have integrated solutions here which we haven’t had before, so they can demo how these solutions work with each other.” Additional scenarios will be added over time.

This free access may sound familiar to some partners, and there’s a good reason for that. SAP introduced something very similar a year and a half ago.

“That program had lapsed and is now coming back on board,” Scola stated. “It’s super important on the partner economics side, because free demos help lower their costs.”

SAP is also announcing 12 months of free access for partners to test and demo systems on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and on the SAP Business ByDesign solution. Both new offers will be available from July 1, 2020.

Scola said that partner experience is the third leg of the stool for SAP’s next-gen partnering.

“It’s about how we provide a frictionless partner experience around things like contracts. Are they simple? How many hoops are there to sell into other markets? Is the portal easy to understand?”

Scola acknowledged that none of the legs of the stool are really new, but said what’s important here is that they are now getting even more resources and emphasis.

“The partner organization was doing a lot of the right things already,” he noted. “Now we have even more horsepower behind us to bring these off the slides into reality.”

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