The new managing director of SAP UK believes there are still plenty of growth opportunities in the UK enterprise application market, and plans to work on placing more SAP software with existing customers, mine verticals such as the public sector, and develop sales to SMEs.
Steve Rogers, who was appointed by SAP in October, used to run Siebel’s northern European business, and prior to that put in time at IBM, Oracle, and Business Objects. He is taking on the role at a time of change and expansion for the company, heading up one of SAP’s more sizable markets after Germany and the US. SAP has about 1,000 customers in the UK.
He said the existing customer base is an important starting point. There is a suggestion that the enterprise market is saturated but that is so far away from the truth that it is ridiculous, he said. Many of these organizations have only bought a fraction of the footprint that is available. He said he sees opportunities arising if SAP can get closer to its enterprise clients and ensure they understand what it has to offer.
He said the company is also looking to profit from organizations’ desires to reduce the number of vendors they deal with. Clients want to consolidate the number of people they deal with, he said, and believes this trend will elevate SAP over the attractions of other players.
While admitting that it will not be possible for SAP to provide all the applications required by vertical industries, he said SOA is the answer. SOA opens up the landscape, he said. We believe we have the credibility to provide the backbone of applications needed to run a business. The SOA BPP is a technology platforms that allows plug and play of components and we are working hard to build a network of ISVs and enable their software to plug and play into the BPP. The vision is one where SAP provides the core software engine with ISVs integrating into the SAP stack.
Rogers was pragmatic about SAP’s efforts in UK public sector market. If you were to be critical of SAP, you would say it did not grab hold of the public sector generally and central government especially, early enough, he said. He believes Oracle did a great job, but is also convinced that the pendulum has now swung as Oracle continues to battle against its reputation as a technology rather than a business applications provider. We are positioned to capitalize on it at the central and local levels, he said. With UK public sector facing the challenges of delivering shared services and ID cards, he thinks there is still a lot of business to be gained.
He said next year will see a renewed focus on process and discrete manufacturing but not in the areas of core manufacturing or SCM systems. Warehouse management is the hot area, he said. Retail will also remain an important sector. SAP reportedly got close to signing a couple of large UK deals this year, but he said these stalled as a result of stock market fluctuations. The company is optimistic about rekindling them.
The financial services sector was a good market for SAP UK for a few years, according to Rogers, but did not end up being the engine of growth that was anticipated because organizations opted to build their own systems. However, he said the company is hopeful that the move by organizations to streamline their software portfolios and software suppliers will open up new opportunities.
Banking has been a bright spot within the sector, and more generally, the SME market has been tagged as a growth engine for the company as a whole with the recent launch of a Global SME business unit to promote activity in the sector.