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February 19, 2009

SAP appoints new UK SME director

We’re deadly serious about SMEs: Stephen Read

By Steve Evans

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor SAP has announced the appointment of Stephen Read as its new director of SME for the UK and Ireland. Read will be responsible for managing a team covering the SAP Business ByDesign, SAP Business All-in-One and SAP Business One platforms.

According to SAP, Read will be tasked with driving growth in SAP UK&I’s SME sector through a multi-channel go-to-market model.

Read initially joined SAP in April 2006 as senior director, midsize enterprise partners, EMEA and a year later was appointed as VP, business development, SME EMEA. In this role he was responsible for leading the go to market strategy for SAP Business ByDesign and Business All-In-One, so some aspects of his new role will be familiar to him.

Speaking to CBR about his appointment, Read said that the focus was to help SMEs in the UK and Ireland region understand the benefits of using SAP’s products. “We’ll be going to market through a multi-channel model. Between ourselves and Business Objects [acquired by SAP for $6.8bn in 2007] we have an extensive network of partners. The endgame is ensuring the customer base realises the benefits of SAP,” he said.

The SME market is vital to SAP; the company estimates that globally 85% of its customers fall into the SME category, and Read says that figure is similar for the UK and Ireland region.

Read expects SAP to continue to appeal to the SME market, despite the possibility of the economic situation leading to enterprises scaling back their spending.

He said: “It’s all about presenting the business case, that’s the same for every business in any industry. We also have a very attractive financing offer, where businesses can finance the entire project over a longer period of time.” Read added that more and more customers are expressing an interest in this method as the recession bites.

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SAP recently released generally positive financial results for 2008. Revenue was up 13% to €11.57bn, but overall net income was down 2% to €1.89bn. Software and software-related service revenues rose 14% and software revenues were up 6%. The company also announced that it will cut 3,000 jobs by the end of 2009 to help cut costs.

Read told CBR that SAP was in a good position to tackle the recession. He said: “This is a global issue affecting everyone; no one is immune. Despite the economic challenge, we recorded double digit growth in EMEA and are in a stronger position than many other companies. Our fundamentals are incredible strong.”

The growth in EMEA is something Read is hoping to improve on in the UK and Ireland region. His position is not a new role within the company, but more of a refocusing, Read said.

“Growth is key,” he said. “We are deadly serious about SMEs, as it’s now about pushing it to the next level.”

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