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SAP plans channel shake-up to achieve cloud and AI aims

SAP plans channel shake-up to achieve cloud and AI aims

SAP’s partner ecosystem will see some big changes over the next year as it continues its travel towards being a cloud-first company, and build up its “intelligent” software offer.

The business software vendor held its UK and Ireland Partner Summit at Twickenham rugby stadium this week, attended by around 500 channel players, and laid out the direction of travel in terms of growth and direction.

Celine Cazali, SAP chief partner officer for the UK and Ireland, told attendees that building a “vibrant” partner ecosystem was essential, and that artificial intelligence was very much part of that channel effort.

Ryan Poggi, managing director for the region joined her on stage to set out what SAP would be doing to make sure partners were properly served in the evolving business software market, including those now targeting the SME market and not just relying on larger contracts in the enterprise segment to deliver further growth.

SAP is concentrating on “three pillars” to improve its channel: a great team, resiliency, and “followship”. The team play is inward looking, with the company focusing on the health, wellbeing, skills and mindset of its employees; while the resiliency will come from offering partners and the market a sustainable, predictable provider of software that seeks “perpetual engagement” and a long-term partnership, rather than “short-term gains”.

The followship will be achieved through partner trust by “doing what we say we are going to do”.

“We’re not already there today, but it’s where we’re going. Get this right and we will succeed,” stressed Poggi.

Cazali said the renewal rate at the UK and Ireland unit was 85%, one of the highest in Europe, and that 45% of its cloud software business involved participation from partners, indicating that the size of SAP’s direct sales team was still significant.

That 45% in cloud software delivery through the channel is higher than many other European countries though, and to put further context into the equation, the main SAP board has set a target of 50% partner cloud delivery involvement across the whole company by 2025.

The company is very much aware that it has to strike a balance between continuing to support partners still making big bucks from renewing on-premise software licenses as part of big contracts, and further developing its cloud SaaS delivery model.

Over the years, SAP has acquired companies to build out its cloud offer. It now realises it has to better integrate these units to make it easier for partners to fully jump into the cloud, and even look at the openings created by AI.

More to follow from the SAP UK and Ireland Partner Summit...