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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

SMB Cloud CRM adoption journey points to accelerated digital transformation

Techaisle’s detailed SaaS adoption survey tracked the current and planned buying journey of cloud CRM, ERP and other SaaS applications within SMBs and Midmarket firms. Cloud orchestration & digital automation have become essential ingredients for business transformation. Techaisle analyzed the extent to which use/intended use of each of these cloud applications is connected with other applications and whether they are part of a conscious effort for digital transformation. The two sets of figures below show past and planned CRM and its adjacent SaaS applications adoption journey.

The research reveals a very stark difference between the past cloud CRM adoption journey and the intended path after adopting cloud CRM for the first time. The past adoption patterns were seemingly random reacting to a specific point of pain, but planned adoption is deliberate keeping in view the business issues & IT challenges and taking giant steps towards a connected digital business.

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For SMBs Connected Cloud SaaS applications really matter

Techaisle’s upcoming detailed survey report on US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption Trends shows evidence that connected cloud applications really matter for SMBs. 16% of SMBs have already connected SaaS applications across the enterprise and another 10% are on their enterprise-wide connected SaaS journey. These SMBs are getting the benefits of business growth, enterprise agility, corporate efficiency, collaboration and alignment.

Cloud is the agility platform and SaaS offers a zero-friction option for automating processes. The first entry point to cloud in many SMBs is the purchase of a specific business application by a business user. A typical example is of SMB marketing acquiring a SaaS application to help with social presence management, or sales, as is often the case, acquiring a cloud based CRM to track opportunities. Each of these disconnected siloed SaaS applications do provide real & immediate benefits in terms of enhancing individual productivity and enhancing morale and helping with recruitment of tech savvy new workers. However, where cloud starts to differentiate itself and create meaningful impact for SMBs is in connected automation across related activities and applications categories.

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Within SMBs the larger cloud trend is towards deeper use of SaaS

Techaisle’s cloud adoption trend data shows that within US SMBs the SaaS penetration increased from 27% in 2011 to 58% in 2014 and reached 73% in 2016. It is expected that the figure will reach 94% by the end of 2017. Unweighted data analysis shows that SaaS adoption within US SMBs is already at 86% and will likely reach 96% adoption within the next one year. Even at the worldwide level, survey data shows that 76% of cloud-SMBs are currently using SaaS applications.

This view of SaaS as a deepening force within the SMB market raises an important, related question: what is the current benchmark for SaaS within SMBs? How many SaaS applications are in use today? And how many new applications are expected to be added?

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SAP Anywhere - finally a purpose-built front office solution for SMBs

SAP, Europe’s largest software vendor is ramping up its solutions and marketing strategy to boost its SMB market share. Although SAP claims that 80% of its customers are SMBs (largely due to Business One and the Concur/SuccessFactors acquisitions) it is viewed as a company selling large & complex enterprise applications. Some of us who have been in the IT industry long enough remember heated debates in many business board rooms - “Fire the CEO, CFO or SAP?” - nobody dared to fire SAP. To change that perception SAP has been shaping its SMB lens for a while. In a discussion, almost on cue and pre-empting any question on the topic, EJ Jackson, EVP & GM, SAP Anywhere, said, “SAP Anywhere is a solution focused solely on the SMB space. I know whenever one hears the term SME and the words SAP; many shrug their shoulders or sigh a little because historically SAP has thought of companies with two or three thousand employees as a small company. In the case of SAP Anywhere we are actually looking at companies under 1,000 employees, truly in the 500 and under range where SAP Anywhere is focused at this point in time”.

SAP Anywhere – purpose-built for SMBs

SAP recently launched its SAP Anywhere solution for SMBs. It is a purpose-built unified front office application that combines sales, inventory management, order processing, commerce, marketing programs, mobile point-of-sale, customer support & engagement capabilities in one complete solution enabling multi-channel commerce with a multi-channel marketing platform. It is intended to be a mobile first/digital first solution with a high degree of focus on ensuring that it is low touch, quickly deployable (can be deployed within 40 hours) and easily extensible.

Toby Davidson, VP of SAP's SMB Solutions Group, reinforces the point that SAP Anywhere is purpose-built for SMBs, “…it has been built from the ground up specifically for the SMB market segment. We're not taking a large enterprise application and scaling it down to serve functionalities to the small business. That often doesn't work. What we have done is we have built the application from the ground up specifically for the small and medium business, the sub-500 space in mind for the functionality that's being delivered.”

Let us step back for a minute to understand when SAP’s clear and present focus on SMB began. In July 2014, SAP launched SMB Solutions Group, a division focused entirely on the needs of its SMB customers. The aim of this structuring was to address the technology demands of smaller companies, expand SAP’s own business opportunities as it built momentum into the SMB space. Since then the group has been re-formulating SAP’s SMB strategy and building simplified, integrated business applications powered by SAP HANA delivered via the cloud - squarely aimed at solving SMB business challenges.

Prior to SAP Anywhere, SAP’s SMB offerings included:

  • SAP Business One: offering sales and customer relationships, financials and operations through dynamic ERP software
  • SAP Business ByDesign: runs entire SMB business in the cloud through a single solution (designed for upper SMBs)
  • SAP Business All-in-One: to automate core processes for fast-growing SMBs with industry-specific ERP solutions’ requirements
  • Others solutions include SAP Crystal Solutions, SAP Lumira, and SAP Edge Solutions

SAP SMB strategy – loyal customers make it worthwhile

SAP’s strategy for selling applications to the SMB market segment has at best been ambiguous in recent years. Though its products are well designed, the problem has been with their positioning in the market. Its flagship SMB solution, SAP Business One had limited success with SMBs. However, Techaisle’s many discussions with SMBs and midmarket firms in different countries reveals that there are many die-hard SAP Business One users. As one CIO of a 175 person pharmaceutical company in India said, “SAP Business One enables a single integrated visibility to the senior management for effectively running the business operations. Moreover, it consolidates business operations of multiple subsidiaries and offices across country-wide network. SAP has also improved its quality of solution - now we can manage everyday inventory, enable faster sales and purchase processes, perform analysis for business growth, and provide better customer relationship and support”.

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