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SAP sales up 20 p.c. as finance directors ‘retool’ Back  
The integrated financial management systems house, SAP, has seen growth in its installed base in Ireland of over 20 per cent in 1999, according to country manager, Jim Murray. The German software house now has over 120 customers in Ireland, not counting subsidiaries of multinationals which use the software via their head offices.

Murray told Finance that the first customer for an SAP system in Ireland was Shannon Aerospace in 1992. Since then, 1994/95 and 1997/98 were particularly good years, bringing in ‘blue chip’ customers like Eircom, AIB, ESB, CIE and Irish Distillers. The share of the market held by SAP is difficult to assess for definition reasons and also on account of subsidiaries using international parent companies’ systems by remote access. Some multinational subsidiaries have the autonomy to purchase locally, added Murray, but in many cases software and systems were purchased centrally.

SAP plans to establish a local sales and support business unit in Ireland this year, to replace the existing vertical channel marketing for UK and Ireland combined. ‘There is a significant customer base in Ireland now and we are trying to consolidate and focus on it’, said Murray. The company will continue to assign a customer manager to each customer and use the UK-based technical support desk, with local call access.

While an entry level SAP system for 25 users can cost around IEP80 - IEP85,000, Murray says the company is now beginning to break into the market of companies with turnover of IEP25-IEP30 million. The implementation cost can be one to one-and- a-half times the software cost.

‘The mechanics of cost are changing. Renting of the software from application service providers will become more commonplace. We are in discussions with a number of companies to apply for ASP status with us.’ Discussions are at an advanced stage with a large Irish company which is already a customer, Murray said.

The company launched a new internet product, ‘MySAP.com’, in the third quarter of 1999. It is aimed at integrating e-commerce and internet-based communications for companies, allowing ‘co-operative processing’ and the building of trading communities. MySAP.com has not been installed in Ireland, though Murray says there has been a lot of interest and he remains confident about its appeal.

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