SAP Unveils Small-Business ERP Software Suite

Business ByDesign aimed at businesses with 100 to 500 workers.

After blanketing the Fortune 1000 with its ERP software, SAP is looking for new worlds to conquer—and believes it’s found one in the small- to mid-market businesses that long have shied away from ERP due to its cost and complexity.

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SAP has christened its new suite of hosted ERP software for the SMB SAP Business ByDesign and says the software will be available initially in the U.S. and Germany, with the U.K., France and China to follow soon after.

SAP CEO Henning Kagermann presented the first demonstration of Business ByDesign in New York last September, modestly calling it “the most important announcement I have made in my career.”

According to Kagermann, SAP Business ByDesign aims to offer the whole range of ERP capabilities—from manufacturing to accounting to marketing to HR—in a service affordable and simple enough for use by businesses with 100 to 500 employees.

Analysts say SAP’s challenge will be to offer a product that’s easy for companies to configure but also meets their individual needs.

Businesses’ two main concerns about hosted services, especially ERP, have been security of data and reliability of service, says Bo Lykkegaard, a research manager with IDC (a sister company of CIO). But those concerns are lessening, he says, and hosted services for CRM and HR will soon be mainstream.

By the way, SAP will not offer a way for customers to migrate from its software to Business ByDesign, saying the service is “not intended to replace any other SAP solution.”

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