We hesitate to call the buildup to SAP's new software-as-a-service product a big tease -- even though that's what it started to seem like to us, and probably some other folks as well.
The hype machine was fueled by both a rabidly curious trade press that liked the angle of a huge strategy shift for this software giant (guilty) and by SAP itself, whose CEO kept promising the company would "write a bit of software history."
When we blogged about it last month, our primary source was an internetnews.com story that provided a number of key details about the new SMB-oriented product, then called AIS. The details in that story were spot-on, as a new story in the same publication shows. As reported earlier, the product lineup will include several CRM and ERP applications, and the software is built on SAP's SOA-based NetWeaver platform.
The latest article reveals more, including price ($149 per month for each user for the full suite, but pricing options that offer access to selected applications for as little as $54 a month for five or fewer users), the actual product name (Business ByDesign) and some pilot customers (20 companies, including STEMME AG and Compass Pharma Services LLC).
CEO Henning Kagermann is still stoking hype, calling it "the most important announcement I've made in my career. "
The big question is whether SAP can appeal enough to SMBs to grow its customer base from 39,000 to more than 100,000 by 2010, as internetnews.com reports it wants to do. Other tech vendors see SMBs as a similarly important part of their growth plans. Earlier this year, for example, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano said SMBs would become his company's largest customer segment within two to three years.