The African leg of the SAP SME World Tour drew to a conclusion in Johannesburg this week, with more than 350 partners and customers attending a roadshow dedicated to demonstrating SAP's participation in this market space.

“Despite 75% of our business being generated in the SME space, there is a lingering perception that our solutions are aimed only at large enterprises or companies with seemingly limitless financial resources,” says Derek Kudsee, SME director at SAP Africa. “Nothing could be further from the truth and the event was all about dispelling that myth.”
The SAP World Tour is an annual event that traverses the globe, addressing key markets in which SAP is active and in which it aims to grow its market share.
“The key message we are sending to the market is that SAP is a viable, reliable and surprisingly affordable business process engineering solution that companies of practically any size can implement to improve the efficiency of their operation,” explains Kudsee.
Guest speaker at the event, Eric Duffaut who is SAP's executive vice-president: SME sales & channels, says the vendor's strong position in the SME market is one of the industry's best-kept secrets.
“We have 64 000 customer globally who fall within the SME classification, placing us as the leader in this market by quite a large margin” he says. “The SME market is therefore a key pillar of SAP's strategy and we have put the structures and solutions in place to take full advantage of that.”
Duffaut says globalisation has played a prominent role in exposing many SMEs to competition from the large, international players in their industry verticals, thereby placing the smaller players under considerable pressure to up their game.
“This has forced SMEs to look at their internal processes and find ways to be more competitive and consider growth strategies to combat the increased competition from the bigger guys. By implementing any of the solutions aimed at this market, that immediately gives them an edge they may not have had previously.
“Most importantly in the current business climate, companies are looking to reinvent themselves so they can emerge stronger and better positioned, and this can be achieved by realising business process improvements resulting from implementing SAP.”
Duffaut says many a successful company has had to reinvent itself by adopting a forward-looking view on its IT requirements and systems, and that it is easier and better to adopt these kinds of changes while the business is still small.
Demonstrating the value that SAP can bring to the SME market, Kudsee explains that the financial crisis has led companies to concentrate on their cashflow and debtors books more closely as access to finance from traditional sources have dried up.
“The challenge for many companies lies in recovering their income fast enough so they can continue to grow, or even simply to stay in the game. By implementing a debtors module, companies can gain immediate transparency and a view across the organisation that will help them identify bottlenecks and introduce appropriate interventions,” he says.