Bamboo Pipeline

Can Your Small Business Afford ERP? Part 2 of 3

This is the second of a 3-part series exploring the question many small companies ask themselves: Can we afford ERP?  If you missed Part 1, click here.

What is holding you back?

ERP often gets a bad rap. Many industry observers focus on failed and expensive implementations that never seem to end, thereby tending to scare small companies away. The goal of ERP is often cost savings, but you initially need to spend money (and time and effort) in order to save money. Focusing exclusively on the cost of ERP, even the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), will not overcome the initial reluctance to invest. Instead, any company (large or small) investing in ERP needs to cost justify the expenditure by estimating the return on that investment, either in terms of dollars or time to recoup the initial investment, or both.  These savings can be as diverse as the companies themselves.

Often the timing of the investment can be critical. Undoubtedly, many small companies were reluctant to take on this type of project and fund this level of investment during the economic downturn. With revenues down or stagnated, they could potentially wait until better times were upon them. But now, as companies begin once again to develop growth strategies, further delay involves further risk. Waiting until you can’t operate effectively without it can spell disaster.

Why is now the time?

There has never been a better time to consider upgrading your technology. Whether your goal is to support anticipated growth or simply to work more efficiently and productively, several market factors converge to signal now is the time.

Price and Accessibility

First of all, prices have come down, making ERP more affordable than it has ever been. Not only has the price of entry come down, but the process of evaluating alternatives no longer needs to be as disruptive as it has been in years past. Online materials, testimonials and demos and even trial software make it much easier to perform some preliminary qualification through your own research before you ever make contact with a software solution provider.

More Innovation and Functionality

But don’t make the mistake of thinking you already know all there is to know about an ERP product based on web site tours and old or presumed knowledge. In the past several years many of the top ERP solutions have made enormous strides in terms of underlying technology and that technological infrastructure brings better ease of use, faster innovation and more features and functions. The “horizontal” core functionality of traditional ERP solutions has become more of a commodity. “Horizontal” implies features and functions any business requires. But you also may need industry specific “vertical” functionality which means all ERP solutions are not “one size fits all” applications.

When evaluating options look carefully to see how that added functionality is delivered. Unless you are looking at a very narrow, niche solution, it is highly likely to serve multiple industries. Look not only at features,  but also determine how your specific needs are met and whether this introduces an added level of complexity to the solution. This need not be the case. Many solutions today can be pre-configured with implementation templates and best practices. Look for role-based interfaces and configurable dashboards and navigation trees that can be tailored to individuals.

More Configurability, Less Customization

Even horizontal solutions today come with more tailor-ability and configurability. Solutions that may have required heavy customization to meet your needs just a few years ago have undergone major transformations that will help you transform your own business. In the past you may have had to choose between adapting your business processes to match the functionality of the software, and adapting the software to conform to your current practices. Today user interfaces can be tailored to roles and individual preferences and business rules can be established to customize work flows and processes without ever having to muck around in the underlying software code.

 This is an important characteristic, even if you do not require any specific customization today. In a world where nothing is constant but change, plan on your business needs changing over time.

Case in Point: Bamboo Pipeline

This was the case for Bamboo Pipeline, one of the largest suppliers of plants to landscape professionals in the western United States, delivering over 10,000 varieties of plants and trees along with a full range of other landscape materials directly to job sites, often within 24 hours.

The business was co-founded by Matthew Fay and Mike Cornell in 2000. From the very beginning the company had an IT infrastructure and an ERP solution borrowed from another business owned by one of the founders, but it was what Mike Cornell, Executive Vice President described as a “blue screen” character based system that couldn’t handle the growing velocity of transactions that accompanied the fast growth of the early years of the company.  Bamboo Pipeline’s revenues had doubled on average every two years, making it one of the fastest growing suppliers of landscape materials in the USA. Annual revenues increased from $5.7 million in 2004 to $11 million in 2006. Revenues were projected to be in excess of $15 million projected for 2007 when the company, poised for national expansion, decided to replace its legacy ERP.

Mike Cornell and his team selected SAP Business One to support this explosive growth saying, “Modern ERP systems for small companies provide a non-trivial step up in providing efficiencies. There are explicit and implicit economies which free you up for growth and help you absorb change. The economic argument for it initially was to anticipate growth and also to anticipate what we couldn’t anticipate. “

While Bamboo Pipeline realized 47% compounded annual growth up until 2008, nobody anticipated the effects of the housing bust that accompanied the financial crisis that occurred late that year.

“At that point the role of ERP changed. Instead of fueling growth it instead became a shock absorber.  Anyone in business long enough knows that growth and decline in revenue are relatively predictable through sound business management. But what you can’t predict can produce a very rapid discontinuity in your business – the housing decline, shortage of commodities, tsunamis, hurricanes, a spike in prices.

In the absence of a system that allows you to see changes in the business and respond with state of the art precision, it’s like playing the game with one hand tied behind your back.

 “We were in the midst of trying to manage change and a decline in revenue. However, because our technology platform was configurable and adaptable, we were able to very quickly add a whole new line of business. While in the past we had simply sold to landscapers, our new Plants Express business (www.plantsexpress.com) allows us to sell direct to consumers through a partnership with Home Depot. We started with an eight store pilot and now we are in 130 stores. This went from 0% to 30% of our business and we launched it with $0 investment in technology and one new employee. If we had needed to buy new technology we probably would not have been able to do it. Nobody was lending money. Having it in place allowed us to launch this new side of the business. It removed labor capacity as an obstacle and provided efficiency for bottom line survival.”

As a result, Bamboo Pipeline preserved revenues throughout the downturn in the economy but improved margins each year. “Our technology driven business model, enabled by our ERP solution, was a large contributing factor.  It is why we are still in the game. If you find yourself coming out of the downturn but are still gun shy, or perhaps thinking about growth and wondering if the investment will pencil, a well-executed ERP system provides a shock absorber for macro-economic issues out of your control. We are now back in growth mode and just hired seven new employees.”

Ease of Use

Another reason the time is right is improvement in ease of use, particularly in those ERP solutions designed with the small company in mind. In some cases the complexity inherent in applications designed for large multi-national companies has been removed. In other cases it has been masked, effectively shielding the small company from dealing with many of the decisions and features that are the exclusive domain of large enterprise. And in other cases, complexity was never built in.

The added ease of use can often be attributed to more intuitive interfaces. Many have the same familiar Microsoft Windows look and feel that we are all accustomed to today and are far more easily navigated than the hierarchical menu structure of years gone by. As a result, less training will be required in terms of use and navigation. But don’t neglect the evaluation of business processes. And don’t neglect process standardization and process improvement. ERP can be the vehicle by which you both standardize and improve. This is where training is still required, regardless of how easy software is to navigate.

Deployment Options

Worried about having to build an IT staff? Maybe you don’t need to. Today there are multiple options for deployment, as well as options for the ongoing care and feeding of an ERP solution. With choices comes the potential for confusion. It is important to understand these various options.

Terms such as software as a service (SaaS), on-demand, hosted, and cloud computing are often used interchangeably, and yet each has its own implications and some of these approaches can be co-mingled.

Software is typically not bought and sold; instead it is licensed for use. It may be licensed to be used by a company, on a particular computer or by other criteria such as number of users. When installed at the company’s site, it is generally referred to as “on-premise.” In this case an internal IT department might be responsible for supporting and maintaining the solution. However, even with on-premise environments, basic functions such as backup, security, operating system and even business application upgrades can be outsourced.

In a hosted environment, applications are licensed but are hosted by a third-party. This may be in a separate instance on a separate piece of hardware (dedicated to your company), or in a separate virtual instance (also dedicated to your company) where the application is housed on hardware shared by multiple companies. In this case little or no IT support is required at your own site.

In a SaaS or on-demand model the software itself is neither licensed nor owned by the end user company. The software is delivered as a service and is paid for through a subscription for the service provided. Generally speaking few or no technical resources are required at your own site. Cloud terminology is often intermingled with SaaS, but reference to the cloud simply refers to the operating environment and not how the software is bought or paid for.

To the non-technical ERP users the most important aspect is that they are able to connect to the application and its data from any computer with a browser. If in fact this is possible, often times the end user does not know, care or need to know which of these deployment models are actually being used to deliver the application.

A web-enabled user interface is now counted amongst the “basics” of ERP. It is the most versatile, eliminates the need to install and support software on laptops and other personal computers and allows a small company choice in how the software is deployed and paid for.

One more installment will follow. Click here  if you would like to download all three parts in one report. Note: registration is required.

 

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Part 2 of 3: Can your small company afford ERP? Can you afford not to invest?

This is the second of a 3-part series exploring the question many small companies ask themselves: Can we afford ERP?  If you missed Part 1, click here.

What is holding you back?

ERP often gets a bad rap. Many industry observers focus on failed and expensive implementations that never seem to end, thereby tending to scare small companies away. The goal of ERP is often cost savings, but you initially need to spend money (and time and effort) in order to save money. Focusing exclusively on the cost of ERP, even the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), will not overcome the initial reluctance to invest. Instead, any company (large or small) investing in ERP needs to cost justify the expenditure by estimating the return on that investment, either in terms of dollars or time to recoup the initial investment, or both.  These savings can be as diverse as the companies themselves.

Often the timing of the investment can be critical. Undoubtedly, many small companies were reluctant to take on this type of project and fund this level of investment during the economic downturn. With revenues down or stagnated, they could potentially wait until better times were upon them. But now, as companies begin once again to develop growth strategies, further delay involves further risk. Waiting until you can’t operate effectively without it can spell disaster.

Why is now the time?

There has never been a better time to consider upgrading your technology. Whether your goal is to support anticipated growth or simply to work more efficiently and productively, several market factors converge to signal now is the time.

Price and Accessibility

First of all, prices have come down, making ERP more affordable than it has ever been. Not only has the price of entry come down, but the process of evaluating alternatives no longer needs to be as disruptive as it has been in years past. Online materials, testimonials and demos and even trial software make it much easier to perform some preliminary qualification through your own research before you ever make contact with a software solution provider.

More Innovation and Functionality

But don’t make the mistake of thinking you already know all there is to know about an ERP product based on web site tours and old or presumed knowledge. In the past several years many of the top ERP solutions have made enormous strides in terms of underlying technology and that technological infrastructure brings better ease of use, faster innovation and more features and functions. The “horizontal” core functionality of traditional ERP solutions has become more of a commodity. “Horizontal” implies features and functions any business requires. But you also may need industry specific “vertical” functionality which means all ERP solutions are not “one size fits all” applications.

When evaluating options look carefully to see how that added functionality is delivered. Unless you are looking at a very narrow, niche solution, it is highly likely to serve multiple industries. Look not only at features,  but also determine how your specific needs are met and whether this introduces an added level of complexity to the solution. This need not be the case. Many solutions today can be pre-configured with implementation templates and best practices. Look for role-based interfaces and configurable dashboards and navigation trees that can be tailored to individuals.

More Configurability, Less Customization

Even horizontal solutions today come with more tailor-ability and configurability. Solutions that may have required heavy customization to meet your needs just a few years ago have undergone major transformations that will help you transform your own business. In the past you may have had to choose between adapting your business processes to match the functionality of the software, and adapting the software to conform to your current practices. Today user interfaces can be tailored to roles and individual preferences and business rules can be established to customize work flows and processes without ever having to muck around in the underlying software code.

 This is an important characteristic, even if you do not require any specific customization today. In a world where nothing is constant but change, plan on your business needs changing over time.

Case in Point: Bamboo Pipeline

This was the case for Bamboo Pipeline, one of the largest suppliers of plants to landscape professionals in the western United States, delivering over 10,000 varieties of plants and trees along with a full range of other landscape materials directly to job sites, often within 24 hours.

The business was co-founded by Matthew Fay and Mike Cornell in 2000. From the very beginning the company had an IT infrastructure and an ERP solution borrowed from another business owned by one of the founders, but it was what Mike Cornell, Executive Vice President described as a “blue screen” character based system that couldn’t handle the growing velocity of transactions that accompanied the fast growth of the early years of the company.  Bamboo Pipeline’s revenues had doubled on average every two years, making it one of the fastest growing suppliers of landscape materials in the USA. Annual revenues increased from $5.7 million in 2004 to $11 million in 2006. Revenues were projected to be in excess of $15 million projected for 2007 when the company, poised for national expansion, decided to replace its legacy ERP.

Mike Cornell and his team selected SAP Business One to support this explosive growth saying, “Modern ERP systems for small companies provide a non-trivial step up in providing efficiencies. There are explicit and implicit economies which free you up for growth and help you absorb change. The economic argument for it initially was to anticipate growth and also to anticipate what we couldn’t anticipate. “

While Bamboo Pipeline realized 47% compounded annual growth up until 2008, nobody anticipated the effects of the housing bust that accompanied the financial crisis that occurred late that year.

“At that point the role of ERP changed. Instead of fueling growth it instead became a shock absorber.  Anyone in business long enough knows that growth and decline in revenue are relatively predictable through sound business management. But what you can’t predict can produce a very rapid discontinuity in your business – the housing decline, shortage of commodities, tsunamis, hurricanes, a spike in prices.

In the absence of a system that allows you to see changes in the business and respond with state of the art precision, it’s like playing the game with one hand tied behind your back.

 “We were in the midst of trying to manage change and a decline in revenue. However, because our technology platform was configurable and adaptable, we were able to very quickly add a whole new line of business. While in the past we had simply sold to landscapers, our new Plants Express business (www.plantsexpress.com) allows us to sell direct to consumers through a partnership with Home Depot. We started with an eight store pilot and now we are in 30 stores. This went from 0% to 30% of our business and we launched it with $0 investment in technology and one new employee. If we had needed to buy new technology we probably would not have been able to do it. Nobody was lending money. Having it in place allowed us to launch this new side of the business. It removed labor capacity as an obstacle and provided efficiency for bottom line survival.”

As a result, Bamboo Pipeline preserved revenues throughout the downturn in the economy but improved margins each year. “Our technology driven business model, enabled by our ERP solution, was a large contributing factor.  It is why we are still in the game. If you find yourself coming out of the downturn but are still gun shy, or perhaps thinking about growth and wondering if the investment will pencil, a well-executed ERP system provides a shock absorber for macro-economic issues out of your control. We are now back in growth mode and just hired seven new employees.”

Ease of Use

Another reason the time is right is improvement in ease of use, particularly in those ERP solutions designed with the small company in mind. In some cases the complexity inherent in applications designed for large multi-national companies has been removed. In other cases it has been masked, effectively shielding the small company from dealing with many of the decisions and features that are the exclusive domain of large enterprise. And in other cases, complexity was never built in.

The added ease of use can often be attributed to more intuitive interfaces. Many have the same familiar Microsoft Windows look and feel that we are all accustomed to today and are far more easily navigated than the hierarchical menu structure of years gone by. As a result, less training will be required in terms of use and navigation. But don’t neglect the evaluation of business processes. And don’t neglect process standardization and process improvement. ERP can be the vehicle by which you both standardize and improve. This is where training is still required, regardless of how easy software is to navigate.

Deployment Options

Worried about having to build an IT staff? Maybe you don’t need to. Today there are multiple options for deployment, as well as options for the ongoing care and feeding of an ERP solution. With choices comes the potential for confusion. It is important to understand these various options.

Terms such as software as a service (SaaS), on-demand, hosted, and cloud computing are often used interchangeably, and yet each has its own implications and some of these approaches can be co-mingled.

Software is typically not bought and sold; instead it is licensed for use. It may be licensed to be used by a company, on a particular computer or by other criteria such as number of users. When installed at the company’s site, it is generally referred to as “on-premise.” In this case an internal IT department might be responsible for supporting and maintaining the solution. However, even with on-premise environments, basic functions such as backup, security, operating system and even business application upgrades can be outsourced.

In a hosted environment, applications are licensed but are hosted by a third-party. This may be in a separate instance on a separate piece of hardware (dedicated to your company), or in a separate virtual instance (also dedicated to your company) where the application is housed on hardware shared by multiple companies. In this case little or no IT support is required at your own site.

In a SaaS or on-demand model the software itself is neither licensed nor owned by the end user company. The software is delivered as a service and is paid for through a subscription for the service provided. Generally speaking few or no technical resources are required at your own site. Cloud terminology is often intermingled with SaaS, but reference to the cloud simply refers to the operating environment and not how the software is bought or paid for.

To the non-technical ERP users the most important aspect is that they are able to connect to the application and its data from any computer with a browser. If in fact this is possible, often times the end user does not know, care or need to know which of these deployment models are actually being used to deliver the application.

A web-enabled user interface is now counted amongst the “basics” of ERP. It is the most versatile, eliminates the need to install and support software on laptops and other personal computers and allows a small company choice in how the software is deployed and paid for.

One more installment will follow. Click here  if you would like to download all three parts in one report. Note: registration is required.

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SAP Business One: What’s New? What’s Next?

 Having recently posted updates on both SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Business All-in-One, I felt it only fair to also weigh in on the “other” SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for small to mid-size enterprises (SME) – SAP Business One. With almost 30,000 Business One customers, it enjoys a larger installed base than most all other ERP solutions vying for the attention of small businesses. Besides having featured it prominently on the main stage at SAPPHIRE NOW 2011, what has SAP been up to in terms of delivering innovation and what plans does it have for the future?

For those of you not familiar with the product line, SAP Business One is sold exclusively by over 1,100 partners in 40 countries around the world and is available in 25 languages. A Business One customer typically has fewer than 100 employees.  Designed for small companies, Business One is an integrated suite including:

  • Financial management  
  • Sales and order management, including the ability to support eCommerce through an on-line web store
  • Warehouse and production management
  • Customer relationship and service management
  • Purchasing
  • Reporting –using SAP Business One with SAP Crystal solutions

It is extendable with a Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) and indeed there are over 450 partner solutions, including some that are industry-specific. SAP also leaves more specialized functionality, such as Human Capital Management for example, to its partners.

While employee headcount is an important qualifier, it is not the only qualifier. Several years back I remember speaking with Mike Cornell, EVP of Bamboo Pipeline and a Business One customer. When I first met Mike in 2007, he had recently completed his initial implementation. His company had been a candidate for a new ERP because its existing solution couldn’t handle the growing velocity of transactions that accompanied the fast growth of its early years.  Bamboo Pipeline’s revenues had doubled on average every two years, making it one of the fastest growing suppliers of landscape materials in the USA. But Mike made a comment back then that stuck with me. He said something along the lines of, “When we hire employee number 101, I have no intention of ripping Business One out and implementing something else.” He was obviously in it for the long haul and would not have selected Business One had he not been confident that it would scale with him.

I recently caught back up with Mike for an update. Being in the landscape design business, selling directly to building contractors, Bamboo Pipeline was impacted by the housing bust that followed the financial crisis in 2008. At that point the role of ERP changed. Instead of fueling growth, it instead became a shock absorber.  Bamboo Pipeline preserved revenues throughout the downturn in the economy but improved margins each year. According to Mike, “We were in the midst of trying to manage change and a decline in revenue. However, because our technology platform [Business One] was configurable and adaptable, we were able to very quickly add a whole new line of business. While in the past we had simply sold to landscapers, our new Plants Express business (www.plantsexpress.com) allows us to sell direct to consumers through a partnership with Home Depot. We started with an eight store pilot and now we are in 130 stores and will be in 170 by the fall of 2011. This went from 0% to 30% of our business and we launched it with $0 investment in technology and one new employee. If we had needed to buy new technology we probably would not have been able to do it. Nobody was lending money. Having it in place allowed us to launch this new side of the business. It removed labor capacity as an obstacle and provided efficiency for bottom line survival.”

So beyond making the businesses of its customers more sustainable, what has the Business One team been up to? Like most of SAP’s products, it has been the beneficiary of new developments in Business Analytics, mobility and in-memory computing, and like the rest of the “new” SAP, has gotten much closer to its customers.

Reporting and Business Intelligence

Visibility into the business is one of the primary goals of any ERP solution and yet even today many companies, large and small, are still making decisions based on gut feel. Executives need to know their businesses better in order to make decisions and act boldly. One seemingly small, but deceptively important feature of Business One is a key here. That is its drill-down capability. To the left of any field on the screen you will see a little arrow. Want to know more? Just click on the little arrow and it will drill down to more detail. And you can keep drilling further and further. For super users that understand all the structure and relationships within the data and the application, this might seem like a nice little shortcut that keeps them from traversing a hierarchical menu and data structure. But for an executive that doesn’t have the time, patience or inclination to understand all those structures, it is the key to the kingdom. And that key unlocks a wealth of knowledge right at the touch of a button.

Then of course there is reporting.  The reporting mechanisms of ERP represent a key factor in decision-making and Business One relies primarily on the SAP Crystal Reports software for this visibility. There are Crystal Reports that come as standard fare within SAP Business One, pulling live data from all different parts of the solution, from accounting to sales to production and inventory. And SAP will continue to add more and more of these standard reports. However, I think the bigger value proposition will come from the release of SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI 4.0 for the SAP SME products (including Business One.) Adding the SAP Crystal Dashboard Design (formerly Xcelsius) is where the real added value lies, allowing you to create your own views and combine data from both SAP and non-SAP sources.

In SAP Business All-in-One (BAiO) Living Up to Its Name I wrote, “But perhaps where the BAiO user is likely to see the biggest change is in the experience of working with the product. You really have to see this to get the full effect because describing the new user interface as a portal or a mash-up really doesn’t do it justice.” The same kind of experience is available with Business One. Picture a screen that combines frequently used transactions or inquiries from your enterprise application (ERP or CRM), along with a Google-like search, maybe Microsoft Outlook and a few charts of key performance indicators. Maybe other widgets or Microsoft Office components would be added? It would be tailored by role, customizable by individual preference. It would be the equivalent of setting up a home base of operations from which a business user could comfortably operate all day long.

Unfortunately the typical Business One demo doesn’t show this off to its full extent. I can understand why. You don’t get this same experience without some add-on’s to the basic Business One. So I can see that the pre-sales folks don’t want to oversell the ERP product, particularly in selling to small companies that are typically very budget-constrained. And yet, for an incremental added cost, the additional value can be exponential, truly bringing the user experience to life.

Mobility

But decision makers aren’t just sitting in an office, at a laptop or desktop all day long. They are increasingly mobile and are far more likely today to stay relatively connected at all hours of the day and night. We hear lots these days about connecting to enterprise data through a mobile device. And there certainly are plenty of those mobile devices around. The mobile access Business One delivers today is largely for the purpose of securing approvals. Indeed my own research has found that approvals, authorizations, notifications and alerts are the top priorities of those using mobile devices today. So this really takes a “push” approach – pushing alerts to the mobile device in order to obtain approvals. The action to be taken might be a phone call or email in response, but it also might be a simple click.

 SAP sees mobile access as more of a push and pull in the future, allowing decision makers on the run to pull data on demand, rather than waiting for it to be selectively pushed to them.

In Memory Computing

If you have attended any SAP event, or even engaged in a sales presentation over the past 12 to 18 months, you’ve no doubt heard of “in-memory computing.” In the upcoming year, SAP plans to revamp existing SAP solutions with the power of in-memory computing and to release completely new applications such as Sales and Operations Planning, Trade Promotion Management, Smart Meter Analytics, Intelligent Payment Broker, cash and liquidity forecasting. SAP already has Business One running on the SAP High-Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA) in its labs. In memory computing usually equates to “big data” and big data is generally associated with large enterprises. So why is this significant? There are two scenarios at play here.

First of all, while we don’t ordinarily think of small companies as generating the massive volumes of data associated with in-memory computing, organizations of any size must deal with a proliferation of data. And while transaction volumes in small companies can’t compare to those in large multi-billion dollar multi-nationals, it’s not just business transactions that generate data. There is a plethora of other data ranging from quality and characteristic data collected on a plant floor, to consumer preferences that influence buying decisions of a retailer to smart meter readings in managing energy consumption and promoting sustainability. And then of course there are the massive volumes of data being amassed in social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Even small companies cannot hide from the influence of the masses today.

Secondly, sometimes those large enterprises are indeed comprised of business units, subsidiaries and divisions that run individually as small companies that interoperate as an integrated business network. Not only must the business unit handle its own data, but that of its sister divisions. And ultimately the parent company must make decisions by consolidating and analyzing data from a vast number of sources. But individual business units can also benefit from having this facility with managing and analyzing massive volumes of data at the speed of their business.

Business executives don’t know or care about advances in data compression, columnar data store, and in-memory computing technology, but they do care about the speed and power the next generation of enterprise data management can bring to decision making. Whether the goal is to dramatically improve data-intensive processes such as planning, forecasting, and pricing optimization or to analyze sales profitability or manage cash and liquidity, once this power is in the executives hands, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to go back to “business decisions as usual.”

Key Takeaways

While SAP is well known in the world of the large enterprise, a fairly well-kept secret is that 75% of all of SAP’s business is sold to SMEs. SAP Business One continues to play an important role in providing a solution to the low end of the SME market. The reporting and Business Intelligence strategy will continue to be important, as will mobility, bringing enterprise data to the mobile device in a very easy and consumable fashion. SAP also will continue to build out the Business Network Integration story in multi-entity corporations that operate much like a network of small to mid-size companies. And finally, the 2011 and 2012 timeframe will see more concentration on reaping the benefits from SAP’s in-memory computing technologies.

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