ERP giant SAP's entry into the mid-market this week looks set to turn a few rivals' heads, as it rolls out its SME-focused Business One software to newly appointed channel partners.
But the vendor has decided to delay its appointment of a distributor until much later in the year. It had previously said it would appoint one last October (CRN, 23 September 2002).
Initially, SAP intended to sell Business One through Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) channel (CRN, 9 September 2002), but it has now signed 19 of its own VARs.
Tim Osman, head of SME solutions at SAP, said: "We have worked with Microsoft and HP and picked the best practice of their VAR programmes. They are helping us with bits we can't do, although we're not working as closely as we first thought."
Discussing SAP's distribution hiatus, Osman said: "If we had a distributor we wouldn't have enough direct touch with VARs. We are launching a brand-new product and we need to stay very close - perhaps too close."
Osman said SAP will certify about 40 resellers in a three-stage strategy.
The first stage is to get a good geographical coverage. The second is to seek "real vertical specialists". The third is to look for ISVs to build software around Business One.
Duncan Wyeth, sales director at VAR Serion Logic, said he believed Business One would create a much-needed stir in the software mid-market. "The way SAP has approached the channel has been excellent," he said. "Its brand will help to encourage early adopters."
But Dale Vile, services director at analyst Quocirca, said: "In the lower mid-market, Sage and Microsoft have the advantage of an established channel, so it will take a long time before SAP is able to challenge this."
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