SAP now offering premium support option in China

Business is apparently booming there for SAP's Business Suite

SAP is now offering its high-end MaxAttention support service to customers in China in response to increasing demand there for its ERP software, the company announced Thursday.

The company is also installing a top support executive in China. Dr. Uwe Hommel, corporate officer, executive vice president and head of SAP Active Global Support, will work out of an office in Beijing.

SAP's move is aimed at local companies in China as well as its largest global customers, who are expanding operations in that nation, according to a statement.

There are nearly 4,000 SAP customers in China, with 95 percent representing local businesses, SAP said. SAP's China division was formed in 1995 and has some 2,500 workers.

While SAP has had success in China with products such as Business One, an ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite for smaller companies, the arrival of MaxAttention signals that its enterprise-level Business Suite is gaining traction there.

"SAP's found some greenfield action [for the Business Suite in China] and you can't blame them for following up on that, because Business Suite implementations are high-revenue affairs," said Jon Reed an independent analyst who tracks SAP closely. "There's just not a lot of greenfield out there."

Overall, "SAP's crushing it in China," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "SAP is seen as a luxury brand, like Louis Vuitton."

Revenue figures for China on its own weren't available Thursday, but last month, SAP said revenue for its Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, grew 14 percent year-over year to percent to €$345 million ($US500.2 million) in the quarter ended June 30.

As for MaxAttention, while SAP has faced some grumblings from customers over its standard and enterprise support options, especially after a protracted public brouhaha in recent years following a price increase, Reed has "only heard good things about it from the customers who can afford it."

The service includes engineering services tailored to customer needs, embedded support teams, and other features, .

Overall, MaxAttention is a "premium product that most customers don't really need," Wang said. "It's geared towards customers who no longer have the skilled internal resources to manage their own environments or don't have an outsourcer managing their environment."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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