After taking over sales partners: ERP provider Abas explains partner strategy
At the ERP provider Abas Software there was a lot going on in the fourth quarter of 2021: the British ERP software group Forterro, supported by the investor Battery Ventures which Abas has owned since the summer of 2019, has taken over a German market competitor with Myfactory and there were prominent newcomers to the management team.
Arndt Andresen took over the newly created role of Chief Delivery Officer (CDO) on October 1, 2021. Andresen joined from Infor and previously held positions at Cognizant, DHL Global Forwarding and Tata Consultancy Services. On November 1, 2021, Christoph Friedl also held the position of Chief Sales Officer (CSO). He will be responsible for “the strategic further development of the sales and customer support approach in direct sales and the international partner channel area”. Friedl was most recently Senior Director of Sales for ERP & SCM at Oracle in Germany, but also has experience as an SAP consultant and was later Vice President for Cloud Business Solutions at T-Systems International.
Last but not least, the ERP provider has taken over two of its partners in Germany: First, Abas Systemhaus GmbH, headquartered in Reinbek near Hamburg, which looks after over 70 Abas customers in northern Germany and has been working with the provider for almost thirty years.
In December, Abas System GmbH was then taken over. The company, with its headquarters in Berlin and a location in Steinhagen in North Rhine-Westphalia, was an exclusive value-added reseller for Abas ERP and looked after over 100 medium-sized companies. Abas is thus expanding its presence in northern and central Germany and expanding its team by almost 40 product experts.
Emmanuel Moritz, Vice President M&A Integration at Forterro, is now in charge of the operational integration of the Abas system into the overall business of Abas as Interim General Manager. Uwe Lange, the previous General Manager for commercial affairs at Abas System, will stay with the company for a transitional period.
“By integrating the expertise and knowledge of important strategic partners such as Abas System GmbH (Berlin) into our direct business, we have a direct impact on the quality of our solutions and the success of our customers,” said Richard Furby, Abas General Manager Step. And Patrick Markowski, Vice President Product Management at Abas, added: “I have worked for Abas for many years and I am pleased to see the benefits of a close relationship with our customers. When we offer our services and support directly, we learn from first hand what requirements our customers have. This makes our offer more attractive and our customers get more out of their investment – an effect that is as simple as it is effective.”
Does that mean moving away from indirect sales? Are you planning to take over other “important strategic partners”? Or are those not selected as takeover targets and, conversely, classified as unimportant and not strategic, at risk of being deported to the sidelines? Lots of questions that inevitably arise. After all, in the past several IT providers have already switched sales from a mixed to a largely direct model through extensive acquisitions of their sales partners.
However, despite the two takeovers, this does not seem to be the plan at Abas. At least, General Manager Richard Furby explains to ChannelPartner when asked: “At Abas, our partners have always played an important role in how we serve our customers and will continue to do so. Just as our customers’ needs are always changing and evolving, they are evolving our company and our partnership relationships will continue.”
Furby continues: “In some cases it makes sense for the partner team to join Abas directly, as is the case with Abas System GmbH or even ABAS Systemhaus GmbH. We will continue to work with our partners and the nature of our partnership review regularly to adapt to the changing dynamics of customer needs.”
That doesn’t sound like a large-scale buyout strategy – but it doesn’t rule out further takeovers either. A logical takeover target would be Abas IT GmbH, based in Munich and with branches in Nuremberg and Augsburg. Other companies, especially in Germany, could also be considered. With the hiring of sales manager Friedl in November, Abas also let it be known that the company primarily wants to grow internationally with partners. Nationally, on the other hand, a largely direct customer service could be aimed for.
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