This week, IT Decisions attended the SAP Forum in São Paulo and spoke to their most senior local executive, Felix Feddersen, the senior vice president for SAP Latin America.
SAP is known for their expertise in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technology and this was an area that suffered extensively during the economic slowdown as companies focused on keeping the lights on, rather than improving the supply chain.
With this in mind, IT Decisions asked Feddersen how the economic slowdown had affected SAP in Brazil, compared to other regions.
“If you go back a year, we did see a spending reduction in Brazil, but it was not as strong as we saw in other countries. But what is interesting is that we also saw a much faster return to growth here,” Feddersen said.
“There were some significant qualitative changes too. The average deal size has increased – we are now seeing more investment in big rollouts and executives really looking forward, not just making adjustments. And there is a big move from investing to reduce cost through efficiency to investment for growth,” he added.
Feddersen outlined how his customers are feeling more confident in their own markets now and they are particularly interested in the benefits that can be achieved from improved customer relationship management (CRM) and human resource systems.
Feddersen said that Brazil is one of their key markets, but he stressed that his team here is not just focused on sales.
“We believe that all the action happens in country, not just in the head office. We have consulting, pre-sales, market development by industry experts, as well as a significant investment in SAP Labs Latin America. This is one of the fastest growing R&D centres in Brazil – it shows that we are not just selling to Brazil, we are developing new products right here in Brazil.”
There are local firms in Brazil producing similar technology solutions to that offered by SAP, Totvs being just one example, and IT Decisions was keen to find out what Feddersen thinks of the local competition – clearly where he feels the main battleground lies.
With the skill of a seasoned politician he avoided making any direct reference to other companies, but he did start to emphasise the SAP offering for smaller organisations.
“We believe that our solutions do cover all areas, including small and medium-sized businesses. We have a strong solution for companies with up to eighty users called B One. We have had more than one hundred per cent growth in this area and we don’t expect that growth to decelerate,” he said.
Feddersen even went so far as to issue a quality challenge to his local competition.
“We have a strong and complete offering that plays in the market with equal or better levels of competitiveness and our functionality is much better. We think that even small companies are looking for higher quality functionality. Smaller companies still want a robust IT infrastructure that can take their business to a new level.”
The words alone are friendly enough, but offer a strong challenge to those in the business automation market. Follow IT Decisions to see how the local market reacts.
Photo by Steve Berry licensed under Creative Commons