Exposed: SAP’s heavy handed tactics against Spinnaker at SAPPHIRE

SAP used some heavy handed tactics to suppress the marketing efforts of third party maintenance and support provider Spinnaker at the enterprise software giant’s annual customer and partner event in Orlando last week, Computerworld UK can reveal.

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SAP used some heavy handed tactics to suppress the marketing efforts of third party maintenance and support provider Spinnaker at the enterprise software giant’s annual customer and partner event in Orlando last week, Computerworld UK can reveal.

The events took place at the same time SAP’s co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said that the company was not concerned with the rise of such providers, claiming most customers still wanted access to its innovation.

Snabe said that 98 percent of customers are actually opting for the most expensive support offered by SAP.

However, Spinnaker has since got in touch and revealed the efforts SAP took to suppress its presence at the event, which may indicate that SAP is slightly more concerned about such companies than it is letting on.

Spinnaker’s co-founder and managing principle, Matt Stava, said that SAP did the following during the event:

• Used their contract at a local hotel as leverage to cancel Spinnaker’s user reception on the Tuesday

• Confiscated two attendee badges, which were purchased at $1,600 each. Spinnaker hasn’t heard anything about getting this money refunded.

• Used a power washer to remove Spinnaker’s sidewalk chalk art, which had been approved by the city and Orlando Sheriff.

• Security guards told Spinnaker employees handing out water to get off ‘private property’, when they claimed to be standing on public sidewalks.

Spinnaker’s Stava expressed disbelief at the tactics, considering outside marketing by competitors is quite common at technology conferences.

“We are not invited into the event, we are not on the show floor for example, so we have a difficult time being completely productive at SAPPHIRE. However, my goal with our group down there was brand awareness and getting our name out. Creating that brand in the market place,” said Stava.

“We do this in a legal, above board manner, with high integrity. SAP is obviously very threatened by that. Last year we didn’t have this at all – we were able to do all the things we wanted to do from a marketing and branding perspective. This year the threat is clearly higher.”

He added: “These things continue to validate the market even more so. They are beginning to recognise that our name is out there, there are third party maintenance providers providing a fantastic service to some of their customers.

“I think they are extremely threatened by this.”

Peter Carter, Spinnaker’s director of demand generation, said that SAP customers can save up to 70 percent on their SAP ERP maintenance bill. The pair also indicated that since launching the service last year, they have secured approximately twelve customers, with seven or eight times this number in the pipeline.

Stava also said some of the companies include ‘big brand’ names and are ‘Fortune 100’ businesses.

An SAP spokesperson responded to the claims by saying: “We invest significant time and resources to create a unique SAPPHIRE experience for attendees, and will take appropriate action to protect this experience from competitors looking to high jack the event for their own purposes.

“You might note that we have a well-defined program for many partners to participate”.

SAP’s co-CEO Snabe told Computerworld UK last week that third party support is fine if you are running an old version of SAP’s ERP, you don’t want any innovation and just want a company to take care of what is already running. However, he added that if this is the case then customers will be “kind of left behind”.

He said: “First of all, I think that it’s fine that there is choice, but I’m not so concerned about it because we have been able to move our install base to the latest version of the Business Suite very successfully.

“I estimate that out of 40,000 ERP customers, at least 85 percent, if not 90 percent, are on the latest version, which means that they like our innovation strategy and they want to consume the innovations.”

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