SAP’s Business ByDesign Lives (And Reuters Gets It Oh So Wrong)

Where do I begin with this post? Reuters laid an egg with an article about SAP’s troubled but very much alive and well on-demand ERP offering, Business ByDesign, in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start.

So let’s start at the headline (and yes, as a former reporter, I know that headlines are written by evil editors, not reporters, but you gotta start somewhere).  Had this article’s headline been written a year ago (SAP’s cloud venture fades….), the verb fades might have been applicable. But a lot has happened since last year, including some technical upgrades and renewed interest in making sure ByDesign, already in use by 40 or so customers, hits the market in general availability within the year.

Moreover, ByDesign was featured in a demo zone at this year’s Sapphire, where the Reuter’s reporter clearly was not. I was one of the many who test drove the software, and it looked and acted pretty robust. Fading? Sorry, Reuters.

Then there’s the little matter of the obligatory analyst quote, from someone who clearly hasn’t followed ByDesign and ought not to be commenting on it at all. After calling  ByDesign a “disaster”, which admittedly would have been potentially accurate after last year’s Sapphire, said analyst was quoted as saying that “Business ByDesign failed by marketing, not by technology.”

Actually, the opposite was true: ByDesign was yanked back from a fast-track launch precisely because the technology wasn’t ready to support a full complement of customers in a way that would be remunerative for SAP. In other words, ByDesign wasn’t designed well enough to be a cost-effective SaaS product. That’s what SAP has been working on fixing since, marketing had nothing to do with it.

Then this analyst claims that SAP screwed up by using global SI partner Accenture to take the product to market, when nothing of the sort ever happened or was envisioned by the SAP SME team. So wrong you gotta wonder why this turkey would even bother to comment on something he clearly had no idea what he was talking about.

Then comes the clincher. “If you ask me,” the analyst says, “they will look for an acquisition candidate in this space and trash everything they’ve done on their own.” Well, considering how wrong this analyst has been so far, it’s pretty easy to say that someone, in particular the Reuters reporter, made a pretty big mistake by asking this analyst anything in the first place.

But, just to make sure no one will ask this analyst for an opinion on this subject any time soon,  SAP is planning on moving forward with ByDesign, and, also for the record, if you ask me, there is no acquisition candidate in this space that SAP or anyone would want to buy, and that includes NetSuite.

I’m afraid what this probably points to is that fact that the hard-pressed wire services like Reuters, not to mention a few other major news outlets, are having a hard time finding talent that can accurately report a story that requires a little institutional memory and a good set of sources. Clearly the journalist in question had never covered ByDesign before, and she chose to quote an analyst who hadn’t covered the product either. The result is a pretty ridiculous article, and one that, if Reuter’s had any balls, would be yanked with an apology to its readers for publishing an article that couldn’t have been more wrong. Sic transit gloria, Reuters.

8 thoughts on “SAP’s Business ByDesign Lives (And Reuters Gets It Oh So Wrong)

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  3. Josh, nice post on BBD. At the blogger’s table we had the chance to talk with SAP’s Pascal Brosset. His frank comments about BBD lined up accurately with your analysis. At this point, indications are that SAP customers running BBD are happy with it. SAP is now trying to figure out how to make money on BBD. Basically hosted applications is a new business model for SAP and that’s the big holdup now. Once they solve that, then we’ll see a real marketing push and at that point, and not before, the marketing can then be assessed. SAP has admitted to many mistakes on the BBD front but they are far from giving up on it or allowing it to fade from view.

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  5. Reuters seeks to give credibility to the Analyst by stating “Forrester Research software analyst Stefan Ried, who was responsible for product management of SAP’s technology platform Netweaver around the time the company was beginning to develop its on-demand product.”, yet what they don’t mention is that Stefan was only for 8 months at SAP (here is his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/stefanried

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