As I explained in another post, it’s credible that SAP is very serious about its new ByDemand SaaS (Software as a Service) offering. While I haven’t been briefed on the product (er, service), I’m guessing ByDemand is pretty good, or soon will be. I have three major reasons for this opinion.
SAP sure has a lot of resources to bring to bear – and as previously noted, I think the company is dead serious about this initiative.
On the back end, the business-service granularity SAP has been implementing is well-suited to deal with the unique challenges of SaaS, both the very real (e.g., short upgrade cycles) and the largely imaginary (e.g., multi-tenancy).
SAP recently hired Dan Rosenberg away from Oracle to head its UI efforts, and Release 1 of a Dan Rosenberg user interface is likely to be very good. I know Dennis Howlett has a contrary view, and he’s actually seen the product. Even so, I’m optimistic about SAP’s claims to have designed the UI with an open mind, for maximum ease and simplicity, and validated by many rounds of testing.
As for sales and marketing – that’s a solvable problem. Indeed, SaaS and high-end packaged software can be synergistic businesses. True, a ByDemand salesman will need to earn much lower compensation than a high-end software sales team leader. But that’s a management challenge companies like SAP already know how to meet. Inside salespeople, product specialists, and so on can already tend to be compensated a lot less than the classic account-manager types are.
By the way, I think the assumption SAP needs to sell ByDemand via indirect channels is an erroneous one. (Dennis Howlett seems to be at least partway to recognizing this. He also reports that SAP realizes that this is truly a sales issue.) Hence my stress on SAP’s internal sales management issues.
All this assumes, of course, that SAP’s ethics and organization aren’t as screwed up as I sometimes fear.