In many ways, SAP's Business One campaign is much like the site of its technology summit, being held this week at the Mission Bay Convention Center in San Francisco. The facility is so new, it's not listed in phone books and cab drivers need directions.

For much of the mid-market, SAP isn't on the map. Most resellers have questions about the company and its staying power.

Just how serious, they wonder, is this company in marketing a mid-market product through a reseller channel when most of its revenue comes through enterprise products sold by a direct sales force?.

Trying to combine direct and indirect sales is always difficult. Just look at Blackbaud, which is dropping its channel in January after a fairly valiant effort to develop the VAR effort over the last few years.

But at the SAP Business One Summit, now underway in San Francisco, the company is delivering a product that talks about a future. Shai Agassi, president of the product & technology group and member of the executive board of SAP, told the roughly 250 VARs present that in three years, they will be remembered as part of the first 10 percent of the channel. The future conference, he predicted, would need another room to hold the crowd.

So that's the talk.

The SAP channel has been undergoing changes as some of the early resellers decide they would rather stay with Sage or Microsoft, while others bet that SAP would remain as a serious player.

One key to understanding the potential is that Microsoft sees SAP as an important player in the mid-market. In fact, sometimes all Microsoft talks about is SAP--it does not mention Sage Software in executive speeches.

Agassi, on the other hand, showed both Microsoft and Sage on his competitive analysis charts. And he pitched his company's approach, one code base for both front and back-office functions that is sold worldwide, and compared its primary opponents and their more fragmented approach.

"We do not have 200 different code bases. We do not have five product families. We do not see the need for a different product in each country," he said. Those phrases all describe Sage, while the issue of multiple product families affect both Sage and Microsoft. .Those are the fighting words. This company is serious.

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