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SAPPHIRE NOW: SAP's robust tools extend to SMBs

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SMBs that are serious about growth make the investment in enterprise-class systems, and nowhere was that more evident than at SAP's SAPPHIRE NOW conference, which wrapped up yesterday, June 5 in Orlando, Fla. The theme of the conference, "Run simple," not only applied to large enterprises looking to consolidate multiple IT systems but to smaller companies that need to move from spreadsheets and clipboards into systems that can track inventory, support mobile devices and ultimately power worldwide operations.

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SAP has always offered products for the SMB market, and 80 percent of its customers are small to medium size enterprises, referred to as SMEs at SAPPHIRE, according to Carrie Maslin, vice president for SME global operations. "Technology has completely changed the game," she said in an interview with the Springfield Entrepreneurship Examiner.

Part of the game-changer for SMBs in the last few years has been the explosion and popularity of cloud-based computing, which has meant companies with limited resources can afford to use more robust systems. "To me, cloud is the most affordable, consumable solution delivery mechanism for partners to deliver (technology) and customers to consume (it)," Maslin said.

SAP is committed to its over 200,000 SME customers, which range from craft breweries to sports franchises like the San Jose Sharks (owned by SAP) and the youth-oriented audio company Skullcandy. While the company focuses on 25 specific industries, it relies on its partners to dive deep into verticals, customizing the robust enterprise solution for smaller businesses and their unique needs. SAP even has SMBs on HANA when needed, a solution traditionally considered the domain of large enterprises.

For an SMB like the Park City, Utah-based Skullcandy, which has only around 50 employees, using SAP Business ByDesign has allowed the company to expand internationally and move engineering in-house. Skullcandy started with inventory and order management, according to Mark Hopkins, IT director at Skullcandy, which provided the supply chain and fulfillment network foundation that integrates into shipping and logistics, dealer portals and other technological facets of the business.

"We leveraged cloud heavily and were early adopters of Business ByDesign," Hopkins said. The company also uses Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services and its own data center to host applications like email and forecasting. For a company founded with a vision of disrupting the audio market, targeting snowboarders and other athletes with quality headsets, its back end needs to be as well-orchestrated as possible.

Ultimately, just because ads for SAP are plastered in airports across the world doesn't mean that SMBs need to shy away from considering or even choosing it as a solution. For the SMBs in attendance at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP products have enabled growth and served as the backbone for even non-traditional business operations. View the slideshow for highlights from the well-attended conference.

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