SAP launches public-sector push

SAP America Inc. last week launched a public-sector marketing effort targeting the federal government among other organizations with its commercially popular business application software.

SAP America the U.S. arm of German software-maker SAP AG began exploring the U.S. public sector last year [FCW Sept. 23 1996]. The company now is in the process of forming a subsidiary - to be called SAP America Public Sector Inc. - to sell and support the company's flagship R/3 product to government education and nonprofit entities. R/3 is an integrated software suite spanning financial human resources and materials management among other applications.

In starting a U.S. public-sector campaign SAP joins such business software vendors as Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc. which already have created federal versions of their commercial products. SAP however is not developing a government-specific version of R/3 but rather will emphasize the public-sector capabilities inherent in the core product SAP officials said.

"We've had public-sector functionality in R/3 since 1992 " said Steve Borchers director of Public Sector at SAP America. Since then the company has enhanced its public-sector capabilities and now has about 300 public-sector customers worldwide.

In the United States Phoenix Ariz. and Georgia's Education Department use the company's R/3 software. And the company has sold its products to federal agencies in Canada the Netherlands Switzerland and also counts the European Commission among its customers.

In pursuing U.S. public-sector customers "the trick for them is going to be leveraging their experience overseas is government " said Joshua Greenbaum a senior consultant and director of the Packaged Software Strategies Service at the Hurwitz Group Inc.

Byron Miller a vice president with Giga Information Group noted that SAP has had a "public-sector presence for a long time." He said the company's experience in treasury and funds management applications in Europe can be transferred to the U.S. market.

SAP America plans to ally with partners to sell and deploy its product in the public sector. In the private sector SAP America has worked with Big Six consulting firms and integrators such as Computer Sciences Corp. Borchers said SAP America expects to work with the public-sector organizations of its "traditional partners." He did not identify specific federal partners.

SAP America and its partners will be marketing SAP Public Sector a package that includes the company's R/3 software and associated consulting implementation and training services.

SAP America also is offering a Public Sector Center of Expertise which provides facilities for product demonstration and training and serves as a forum for customers and partners to provide input to the company's development organization. John Greaney Jr. is the director of the Center of Expertise.

Miller said SAP America's public-sector push should boost the company's visibility in that market. "They need to make their U.S. presence in the public sector much more strongly known and understood " he said.

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