Making Technology Work For Your Business

Dean MansfieldSAP wants to help entrepreneurs run simpler, more efficient businesses. The global software company recently announced the formation of the SMB Solutions Group, a division dedicated specifically to meet the technology needs of small and medium businesses with up to 500 employees. The company also announced that Dean Mansfield, an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, will lead the global division. Earlier this week, I spoke with Dean about SAP’s deeper commitment to the SMB market.

Brian Moran: What does the SMB market mean to SAP?

Dean Mansfield: The global SMB market represents nearly half of the world’s GDP. From a technology perspective, the needs of these businesses are complex and the current industry offerings are fragmented. In launching SMB Solutions Group, SAP’s vision is to work with customers and partners to create the next generation of products to help them run better, more efficient businesses. We want to enable smaller businesses to operate locally and globally by providing them with latest technology resources. We want them to focus on growing their companies and not dealing with IT issues.

Brian: What are your thoughts on separately targeting the small business and larger midsize business markets?

Dean: We recognize the needs of a company with 100 employees are quite different than a company with well over 1,000 employees and each deserves a special focus.

Brian: Where would you like to see the SMB Solutions Group in 2020?

Dean: It’s not so much where we’d like to see our group in 2020 as it is where we’d like to see our customers 5-6 years from now. Our goal is to help SMBs compete against larger competitors in a global marketplace. This is a massive market opportunity. In 2014, vendors supporting the marketplace are hugely fragmented and regional. It’s limiting the delivery of technology as a solution.

We also want to be recognized as a global leader in software solutions for firms under 500 employees. We have the best people, an abundance of valuable resources, a recognized global brand and now a dedicated business division for SMBs. Our goal is to help solve tomorrow’s business problems today.

Brian: Many SMB customers think of SAP as a software company for enterprise-level corporations. Is this a misconception? If so, what are your plans to enlighten customers?

Dean: It is a misconception. A large part of SAP’s business is in the SME market. SAP has over 210,000 SME customers, of which more than half are in the SMB subset with up to 500 employees. We have a tremendous brand with strong, practical solutions for small and midsize companies. We created this business division because we are committed to the SMB market. SAP, as a company, is making a quantum leap to fundamentally change the way that business applications are delivered to small and midsize businesses.

Brian: Are mobile and cloud the two main drivers of the SAP SMB Solutions Group?

Dean: Both cloud and mobile are hugely influential in the offerings SAP is putting together for SMB customers. Today, cloud adoption among small businesses varies greatly by region it’s an affordable option in the United States, but very expensive in South Africa.

SAP’s objective is to provide SMB customers with options—on premise, partner-hosted or cloud. Moving forward, cloud and mobile will play a significant role in consolidating business operating systems. Running a simpler, more efficient company means having one business system. Additionally, you should be able to access the operating system from any device. This is a core part of SAP’s strategy.

Brian: What do you see coming from SAP’s Strategic Technology Partnerships with companies such as Dell, Cisco and VMWare? They are also very interested in reaching SMB customers around the globe.

Dean: We are proud of the partnerships we’ve formed with other leading technology companies to deliver integrated solutions to SMB customers. Together, we are taking a customer centric approach to the market and developing the next generation of business applications based on feedback from customers and partners.

Brian: What are the next steps for SAP’s SMB Solutions Group?

Dean: For the first six months of 2014 we focused on building the foundation. The next six months will have us finalizing our road maps. We are actively hiring to fill out the global team. We plan to be in high execution mode by the end of this year. Our goal in 2015 is to redefine the SMB market from a technology perspective. We want to make technology easier to use, and simpler to run a more efficient entrepreneurial business anywhere in the world.

Brian: Thanks Dean. On behalf of all the small and midsize companies around the world, I appreciate your commitment to the SMB market and helping us run simpler businesses.