SAP migrations gather momentum

SAP boasts a growing regional user base with win-backs from Oracle.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  February 27, 2006

Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Co-op Islami, Gulf News, Al Gurg, Magrabi and Talaat Mostafa are among SAP Arabia's recent win-backs from Oracle and JD Edwards in the Middle East where the number of SAP sites increased by 20 over the past 12 months. At IDB, the multi million-dollar replacement of its existing banking systems with an all-encompassing SAP solution will take around three years to complete. Up until now IDB has run its operations using Oracle Financials software along with solutions from various other vendors. Oracle said customers do change vendors, but noted it has also won customers from SAP in the region. "This is two-way traffic. That doesn't change the fact that Oracle is the clear market leader in enterprise software in the Middle East, and we continue to win business at the expense of SAP and others across the region," said an Oracle spokesperson, adding that examples include Tadawul, Aldar, and Qatar Steel. SAP claims it is gaining ground on its arch-rival worldwide as well as in the region. SAP Arabia cited research from analyst firm IDC, which said it has a market share of 30% in the Middle East and North Africa region. "The latest study by IDC on the software solutions market ranked SAP number one in the MENA region. We are very optimistic for 2006 and plan to deliver an even bigger success story,” said Phil Blower, sales director for SAP “There will be an increased focus on the SME space and on demonstrating our continued leadership and specialisation across the industry verticals in the coming year,” he added. Co-op Islami, the UAE-based halal producer, believes it was the first company in the region to swap Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for SAP. The company underwent a one-year consultation period before it decided to implement SAP. The implementation of the ERP solution, which includes finance, HR and plant maintenance, costs an estimated US$800,000. Sushil Kumar was the project manager for the installation of SAP. He said: "The major thing we found was that Oracle'sransaction processing system was without any major reporting at that time. They have a habit of acquiring other software and trying to integrate it into their parent software. Two different software products cannot be integrated, you will have some problems." Kumar found a third-party process manufacturing solution used by Co-op Islami was difficult to integrate with Oracle and required some tables and inventories to be duplicated. The company considered that an alternative solution built around its operations could meet its specific needs more effectively. "We were thinking of going for an organic thing like SAP because they are normally built from scratch," he said adding that SAP's ability to deliver real-time information was the main appeal. "Our business is very dynamic and we have a lot of changes coming in. We need to know information in all the departments and transparent information should be available. Earlier, we used to run a program in the night to transfer it from one module to another."

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