Fight Night

SAP MENA faces a tough time placating its existing customers and competing with Oracle for new business

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By  Brid-Aine Conway Published  March 10, 2008

The recent annual SAP User Group - Middle East and North Africa (SUG-MENA) conference was probably the most interesting one its attendees had had in some time.

The long-anticipated and much-desired buyout of SAP Arabia by SAP AG, leading to the creation of SAP MENA, will almost certainly alter irrevocably the enterprise computing landscape in the region, and most hope that change will be for the better.

Most regional SAP users found it difficult to get the support they needed from SAP Arabia for the applications they had laid out millions of dollars for - a situation that caused Saudi Aramco to refuse to deal with it at all. Now, the creation of SAP MENA has left most customers waiting expectantly to be buttered up - extensively. And that's quite a lot of buttering up the company needs to get through, despite its current number two position in the market.

The conclusion of the end users who attended SUG-MENA seemed to be that they had better get on with it, as soon as possible. Some users are saying that SAP MENA has three to six months to find its feet and start proving it is a different company to SAP Arabia.

Alongside soothing its current customers, SAP MENA also needs to take up arms against its old enemy - Oracle. As the only market in which Oracle currently holds the number one position, it is finally the one fighting on home ground, and it's likely to be a no-holds-barred battle. Oracle will be absolutely determined to hold onto a market it has held for the last ten years ago, and SAP MENA will want to complete its global domination.

The damage done to its existing unhappy customers will not easily be repaired or forgotten and the market's experience of SAP is therefore a negative one - not a great inheritance when trying to build up new customers. The no-mercy attitude of those customers, not to mention the fight-to-the-death mentality of its number one competitor, means SAP MENA is going to have an uphill struggle to win any market confidence.

However, let's not forget that SAP is number one everywhere else but here, and there must be a reason for that. There is something that has given it large numbers of customers throughout the world, and has made a lot of those unhappy customers stick with its products even while feeling let down by SAP Arabia's service.

All of which means only one thing for us in the galleries - it's going to be an interesting time for enterprise computing, a very interesting time. Popcorn, anyone?

3037 days ago
Sal

Nothing much has been changed with take over except few people are out. Most of the old guards (most of them were incompetent) and the new ones are not any better either. As an ex-insider I can easily comment on this. And all the nasty insider politics are still severe if not worst! Lot of frauds are still holding the management positions. Non of the employees used to be with SAPA are not happy since nothing much changed from previous 'contracting company' mentality to professional corporate one yet. I wish SAP AG is listening.......until then it is beneficial for Oracle in the region.

3470 days ago
The Master

We have been waiting for so long and we deserve a quick action. MENA will not require 3-6 months as most of the senior team have been in the region for quite some time so they are not strangers at all. I will not be so optimistic about the whole thing unless I see MENA/SAP AG intervene in fixing the most serious issue to me; namely the support for the local implementation partners. Without local partners who will be supported, we will continue to suffer during and after the implementation. MENA should not worry about the sales (SAP has been selling itself) but focus should be on the after sale services and support. Double my order please; Pepsi and popcorn.

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