A few hours prior to the end of the SAP Partner Summit 2013, Jon sat down with the always-quotable Brian Sommer to break down the event. The guys took a big picture look at the challenges that customer-driven cloud trends pose to SAP partners.

Dennis Howlett highlighted two of Brian’s key points on his diginomica SAP partner analysis:

  1. SAP needs to get far more busy in micro-verticals if it is to compete successfully in the small and medium business market.
  2. Partners transforming to cloud offerings will find that they need to be far more like consulting partners with industry expertise on offer. SAP will need to provide more support.

Industry focus may be the most surprising point Brian makes during the shoot. In Brian’s view, that vertical focus may pose even more difficulties for partners than the cloud itself:

I’m not as concerned about the channel partners now knowing that they need to move to the cloud. They know that’s what their customers want, and that’s where the market’s moving. That’s now the table stakes for the business world. What is interesting though, is the emphasis that SAP put on making everybody start thinking about vertical solutions, as opposed to the individual brands. I think that’s going to be the toughest challenge for the lion’s share of the partners, because many of them serve smaller markets and local geographies. They may not have been as vertically focused in the past.

Jon and Brian then move into the marketing challenges partners also have to conquer. Brian believes that without intellectual property that includes not only thought leadership but add-on solutions, partners may be excluded from the buying process before they even realize it:

These resellers are being eliminated from deal after deal before they’ve even [aware of it]. All because ethey didn’t have any intellectual property out there on the Web. They didn’t have any testimonials, case studies, they didn’t have any unique intellectual property about that industry, or their vertical solution. People are getting whacked all the time out of deals they don’t even know about

The guys wrap with Brian giving his conference grade and making some final points on how SAP is attempting to humanize its brand.

Show Notes

1:16 Biggest surprise wasn’t cloud, but vertical market message – a challenge for partners

2:12 Brian’s advice to partners in cloud transition – “this is a pivotal time”

3:01 Today’s buyer wants complete vertical solutions

4:24 The marketing game has changed too

6:00 Without intellectual property you may get eliminated from the buying decisions

7:30 Why partners need their own unique software extensions

8:08 Brian gives SAP his partner grade

9:49 SAP needs to highlight partners that have re-invented or developed new models

10:09 Brian’s parting thought – humanizing the SAP brand

Disclosure: SAP paid most of Jon’s travel and accommodations for the SAP Partner Summit.