SAP has announced the general availability of SAP Business One 2004, the latest version of its separate solution for small and mid-sized business. According to SAP's press release
, There are new MRP capabilities, enhancements to the financial modules, and embedded CRM--something you don't always see in solutions targeting this market. This latest version shows that SAP intends to be a major player in a market where it is not normally considered a contender.
Interestingly, this latest version also shows that SAP is increasingly aligning itself with Microsoft. It is uses Microsoft Outlook as a key component, and it is using a direct interface to Microsoft Excel to provide business intelligence capabilities. The Excel integration uses technology that SAP recently picked up through its acquisition of a Norwegian firm, iLytix Systems AS.
The fact that SAP is aligning with Microsoft is another example of how major vendors can cooperate at one level and compete on another. Microsoft, of course, wants the small and mid-size market as its own, through its Microsoft Business Solutions group, which offers products such as Great Plains, Solomon, and Navision that often go head-to-head against SAP Business One.
In a short research note
, Simon Bragg of ARC Advisory Group commented, "This demonstrates SAP's quiet determination to succeed amongst Tier 3 companies, particularly companies from $10 million to $70 million in revenues. Over the last couple of years, it has developed the reseller channels, and created partnerships, for instance with SoftBrands to enhance Business One's manufacturing capabilities. Also, announcing today that their total software revenues increased 10% in 2004, it has the resources to succeed. Competitors in this sector such as Infor, who in Germany claim a higher market share in this sector than SAP, will be concerned."
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