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New SAP solutions gaining ground in MENA

SAP in-memory, mobility and business intelligence solutions attracting customers in region

New SAP solutions gaining ground in MENA
Sam Alkharrat, managing director of SAP MENA says that the company expects to sign its first Middle East and North Africa customers for its HANA in-memory processing technology before the end of the year, and is also demand for mobile solutions.

SAP's new raft of technologies, introduced in the past eighteen months, are gaining strong interest in the Middle East and North Africa region, the company reports.

According to Sam Alkharrat, managing director of SAP MENA, the company expects to sign its first Middle East and North Africa customers for its HANA in-memory processing technology before the end of the year, and is also demand for mobile solutions, and expects to launch its Business One SMB suite within the next few weeks.

At present SAP has over 20 proof-of-concepts for HANA with large customers in the region, and expects to sign three to four customers this quarter. The in-memory technology allows for the processing of large volumes of data at much faster speeds than with traditional processing, allowing companies to get rapid, deep analysis of data.

Speaking on the sidelines of SAP's Sapphire and TechEd event in Madrid, Alkharrat said: "We have a very large pipeline of customers who have jumped on the opportunity to understand what HANA is, starting with our existing customers, and even some customers who do not run SAP, see it as an opportunity to consolidate their existing data warehouses, see it as an opportunity to sort out their data sources, put them all in one place and access them faster. They see HANA as a key engine for that."

SAP is benefiting from an uptick in software sales in the region, and is also seeing the effect of more virtualisation of infrastructure in enterprise organisations.

Along with the interest in HANA, the MENA region is also showing growing interest in SAP's mobile solutions, particularly from customers in the industrial processing, utilities and retail sectors, including Saudi petrochemical company Tasnee, which is looking at deploying SAP mobility solutions across its whole operations.

"We are seeing an incredible pick up on mobility, it has picked up very quickly in the Middle East - no surprises - we have a very young population in the Middle East, we have very high penetration of mobile in the Middle East, so we are seeing our customers really jump on it," Alkharrat added.

SAP is also seeing growing interest in its business intelligence solutions, with growing interest in Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions, which is expanding the company's addressable market as these solutions will run on non-SAP ERP.

The company does not yet plan to bring its Business ByDesign cloud service to the region. At present the service has yet to be Arabized or localized, and Alkharrat says that he still believes that cloud is one or two years from reaching a tipping point in the MENA region, due to issues such cost and availability of bandwidth and security and trust concerns.

SAP does plan to launch its SMB-focused Business One suite in MENA before the end of the year, which Alkharrat says will help to increase its customer base, due to the large number of SMBs in the region.

The company continues to grow rapidly in MENA, signing up two to three new customers per week, and having opened four new offices in the region in the past year, including a consulting hub in Egypt, to provide near-shore support to MENA customers, and an Inside Sales centre, which will work on demand generation for SAP channel partners. The company has increased its channel, signing 30 new partners, a mix of VARs and system integrators, and it has also greatly increased its regional headcount, growing staff numbers by 10% in the past quarter alone. The company is now set to open a Jeddah office, and is looking for an office in Kuwait.

"We put a five prong strategy in place a year ago, in terms of focusing on countries, driving proper segmentation, educating the market, building capacity and focusing on our people, and focusing on customer success, we are driving that, we are seeing the proof points come through... and in the MENA region, we have had our sixth quarter of continuous growth," Alkharrat added.

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