Foote Partners: SAP Skills Becoming Critical Issue for SMBs

Ann All

In its effort to appeal to SMBs with its new software-as-a-service offering, Business ByDesign, SAP may have been so focused on obvious issues like cost and complexity that it didn't consider staffing needs. That's the conclusion of an interesting article about Foote Partners' IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index for 2008's first quarter.


SAP's ambitious plans to enter new markets include not only Business ByDesign but tweaks to the NetWeaver platform, a new business process management offering and the addition of business intelligence products gained in its acquisition of Business Objects. These moves "can only cause disruptions in the skills market" as companies scramble to hire SAP talent, notes David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners.


SMBs, which Foote Partners says now account for two-thirds of SAP's installed base, are likely to feel an SAP skills shortage even more acutely than their larger counterparts. They typically can't afford to pay top dollar for in-demand IT skills or hire costly consultants. Because of this, predicts Foote, some will try to "accelerate the learning curve internally."


Yet many SMBs may lack the resources or time to step up training efforts, says Foote, leading them to take a pass on upgrading their SAP installations or trying new SAP products and services. One of the key questions that SAP must ask itself, says Foote: Can it continue to grow the numbers of mid-market customers and manage to keep both them and its larger customers happy, considering that the groups have such different staffing needs?


Ultimately, says Foote, SAP is "a victim of its own success" and must address staffing shortages if it hopes to continue to expand its business.

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