SAP has unveiled plans to accelerate adoption of cloud solutions through the channel, as partners prepare for increased customer uptake in 2019.
Central to such a strategy will be the recruitment of cloud specialists regionally, in addition to aiding current partners progressing to cloud-based offerings.
“Our focus in the next 12 months is on growing our innovation and cloud partners and helping our existing partners transition to a new business models,” said Marion Ryan, vice president of SME ecosystems across Asia Pacific and Japan at SAP.
“We will work with these partners on joint digital go-to-market to support their growth.”
During a wide-ranging interview with Channel Asia, Ryan said the vendor will also prioritise co-innovation with partners, targeting lucrative markets such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT).
“Ultimately, we want to enable partners to develop their own IP to such as partner apps which can be sold as add-ons to our SAP packaged solutions,” Ryan added.
“We continue to see more customers looking to the cloud to manage applications, integration and workload to drive business value and efficiency.
“As they transform their business into intelligent enterprises, these customers are expecting partners to have hybrid solutions to support that environment and understand their unique industry and business needs.”
In response, Ryan is spearheading regional efforts to grow the vendor’s partner base, co-investing to grow mutually-beneficial alliances in the process.
“Digital and self-service will also be front and centre in terms of our engagement with partners,” Ryan explained. “We have adapted to the always-on access-anytime trend and want to give partners the ability to access content and information in real-time from SAP.”
SAP’s aggressive shift to cloud comes at a time of increased customer adoption both regionally and locally, adoption which is driving the channel to transform in parallel.
“We see our customers continue to invest in the cloud, and that will continue to be a big opportunity for our partners,” Ryan said.
By 2020, Ryan said Asia will deliver nearly two thirds of global growth and by 2030, the region will represent 66 per cent of the global middle-class population and 59 per cent of middle-class consumption.
“SAP will continue with our geographical expansion tied to SME growth areas and new markets in the region,” Ryan added. “These new and emerging markets will present more opportunities for partners.”
While 60 per cent of family-owned businesses across Asia Pacific are not worried about the pace of change in new technologies, seven in ten executives admit that their companies will need to change in order to successfully overcome the challenges of the next three years.
That’s according to a recent SAP and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study, which assessed the readiness of family businesses across Asia Pacific to address future challenges to their operations.
“There is an urgency for these small and mighty enterprises to change by innovating now or risk losing out,” Ryan observed. “There is a clear opportunity for partners to help these SMEs and family-owned businesses fuel innovation and transform their business with technology.”
But while opportunities exist in abundance for partners regionally, Ryan acknowledged ongoing challenges associated with balancing emerging technologies with legacy offerings.
“One of the potential challenges partners will face includes moving forward with innovative new solutions and technology while retaining their historical deep industry and local market knowledge,” Ryan said.
“Customers still turn to them and expect this expertise and counsel to resolve business issues, and not to just talk about new technology and features.”
For Ryan, SAP’s “extensive network” of over 17,000 partners continues to play an “integral role” in helping customers win in a digital economy.
“A successful SAP partner will understand that their role is about delivering innovation and business value to their customers even whilst the partner may be transitioning into a new business models themselves,” Ryan explained.
“These partners invest in an enablement of their team members so not only are they prepared to support their customer’s transformation journey but they are able to attract and retain talent in a competitive market.
“Successful partners embrace an always-on approach to digital marketing as customers are actively engaging in online research to inform a technology purchase decision.”