Consider these conversations over the past few weeks:
- At SAPPHIRE, I spoke with many from the big Fortune 1000-type companies, on outsourcing (or “co-sourcing”, a new PC term). Lots of discussion around India; they have memorized the flight schedules, swap stories about social disparity and the caste system, and rattle off all of the cities they have visited. Note that it’s not all about India; I talked with organizations who have moved their SAP Center of Excellence (support and/or development) to Guangzhao, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, and Bradislava. Some companies are expanding in Puerto Rico, while others are trying hard to get out. There’s talk of Guadalajara becoming the next Silicon Valley, and Canada becoming a nearsourcing candidate due to favorable exchange rates on the same continent, in the same time zones.
Is this not an opportunity for the midmarket companies, that do not have the scope or the size to justify such an arrangement? More resources in the States with deep ERP skills, who don’t want to move with the jobs …
- My good friend Stan recently took a new job as an SAP lead at an aggressive, rising company. A closely-held corporation, they are small in number (in the back office), but they do a ton of business; >$3B over BtoC and BtoB web sites. He suspects they are thinking about going public, what with the SAP implementation and all. They are scooping up talented techs to do their SAP implementation, and all of them (except for Stan) are ex-implementation consultants who are sick of traveling.
Should it be easier for folks in the mid-market to locate and hire? Hmmm, one might think so, unfortunately …
- The folks from AMR have published a nice summary on “A1S”, a new product targeted at the midmarket and unveiled at SAPPHIRE this week. According to the article, 65% of SAP’s 39,000 customers are SMBs (which, depending on who you ask, can range up to $5B in annual sales). And SAP has made its plans clear, aiming for 100,000 customers by 2010; most of those are expected to be these SMBs.
Alas, the demand for capable SAP experience should still be high, and the supply constrained as always. The difference, however, is the value proposition that these smaller companies present; a difference that employer and employee should understand and appreciate …
- SMBs, especially non-public companies, are typically more flexible and adaptive than SARBOX-encumbered giants
- This can be a good thing, if you don’t particularly enjoy bureaucracy …
- … or a bad thing, if ownership is dominated by strong and idiosyncratic personalities (or [shudder] … private equity)
- The Fortune 1000 all had great benefits, large populations for their health plans, and well funded pensions. Most SMBs would struggle to offer the same
- Bereft of the sprawling footprint of your typical multi-national, the SMB analyst may see much less demand for travel. In the salary market, high travel demands will justify a bigger salary, which would be tough to match for most smaller firms. My opinion … the older you get, the more important the quality of life factor becomes.
Assuming that SAP’s energetic sales force can deliver on these goals – what’s your best strategy? To effectively compete in the talent market, SMBs need to market their corporate culture, stability, and quality of life to prospective technical talent – especially as an offset to upward pressures on salaries.
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