IT Innovation Vital to Sustain MENA’s SME-Dominant Economic Engine

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SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today reiterated its commitment to helping small and midsize enterprises (SME) in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region unlock new routes to innovation and competitiveness.

Luis Murguia SVP Ecosystem and Channels SAP Europe Middle East and Africa
Luis Murguia SVP Ecosystem and Channels SAP Europe Middle East and Africa

“SMEs are the engine of growth of the region’s economy,” said Luis Murguia, SVP Ecosystem and Channels, SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa, speaking at the SAP SME Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. “They are adopting innovation faster than ever, they are winning against larger players and, more than ever before, we need to partner with them and to empower them with the right technology at the right time.”

According to the International Finance Corp (IFC), the Middle East needs to create around 75 million jobs to keep up with growing populations. SMEs in the region represents 80 per cent of all business, making them a crucial employment engine.  According to official statistics, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone has more than 230,000 SMEs, which employ 42 per cent of the overall workforce and contribute to over 40 per cent of the country’s GDP.

SMEs in the region face considerable challenges, however. In particular, their progress and effectiveness is hampered by a lack of finance. The IFC notes that only a fifth of the MENA region’s SMEs have a bank account or loan. This is in part driven by caution during uncertain times.

Murguia said that business software can play a significant role addressing these challenges, from providing banks with more accurate, analytical overviews of investment prospects, to furnishing SMEs with rapidly deployable solutions that enhance both performance and profit.

“Whether it is enterprise resource planning, mobility, analytics, the cloud or in-memory computing – or all of these elements combined – SMEs now have access to an unprecedented set of tools to truly mark them out as forces to be reckoned with. It is up to companies like SAP to help these companies better realize their potential.”

Murguia went on to stress SAP’s longstanding commitment to SMEs. More than 80 per cent of SAP customers worldwide are SMEs, 88 per cent of new business clients are small, and 35 per cent of SAP’s sales comes through indirect entrepreneurs.

SME-specific SAP® solutions include SAP® Business All-in-One (a customizable and extensible solution for midsize companies with deep industry best practices built in) and SAP® Business One (a single integrated solution for successfully managing small businesses and for managing subsidiaries of large corporation). Version 9.0 of the latter running on SAP HANA® was announced today at the SME Summit. The new version offers more than 50 features that are only possible with the use of in-memory technology, enabling access into structured and unstructured information within seconds instead of days. With deep insights from the predictive analytics capabilities provided by the SAP HANA platform, SMEs can optimize business planning, operations and decision making, while simultaneously gaining insight into new consumer trends and behavior. SAP Business All-in-One can also be powered by SAP HANA.

Globally more than 80 percent of SAP’s customers are small and midsize companies and the majority of those are coming through partners and other channels. The goal is to increase that to 100 per cent in the coming years.

One of SAP’s most recent SME customers is the UAE’s Modern Bakery. Established in 1975, the company currently produces more than 2,800 products for distribution across the GCC region.

To help cope with ambitious expansion plans, Modern Bakery enlisted SAP to implement a mobility solution as well as Business Suite on Hana (BSoH).

The latter is the only solution in the world that successfully combines transactional applications with analytics in-memory. The innovation dramatically simplifies IT architectures and processes, empowering businesses to achieve unprecedented speed and real-time predictive analysis.

“As our name suggests, we have always been drawn to cutting-edge technologies capable of improving our business performance,” said Dr. Fawaz Al Bahri, Director, Modern Bakery.

“With SAP’s solutions on board, we can effectively explore our expansion plans while also improving on our ability to deliver the quality products our customers have come to expect.”

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