SAP offers 'buy now, pay later' for the 'new, new economy'

We've had the 'new' economy, now get ready for the warm and fuzzy 'new, new economy', a time when vendors such as SAP are pledging to "do whatever it takes" to help customers survive, including a 'buy now, pay later' strategy.

Speaking at Sapphire '01 in Brisbane, Les Hayman, president and CEO for SAP Asia Pacific, gave a commitment to long-term customers that the company will "help you find a way [to fulfill specific business needs] whether you have money or not".

Hayman said this wouldn't mean "giving things away", but making deals with companies so they could pay next year.

"If Ansett had come to us, we would have done all that we could and this applies to all our other customers."

Henning Kagermann, co-chairman and CEO, SAP AG, said the feel within the industry is that the economy will not "come back" until 2003.

For Asia-Pacific region companies feeling the pinch, Kagermann said the company would "find conditions to get them across, and then they will remember what the company did for them".

Chris Bennett, managing director and CEO, SAP Australia and New Zealand, said the deals would not necessarily include interest being charged on the sale price, but rather flexibility on payment terms and negotiated prices.

"We will consider any requests." Bennett said this rather unique business strategy stems from the fact that every SAP customer is a "long-term customer" and that it was healthier for SAP if it could do deals with clients rather than them choosing a cheaper option.

Hayman said that in local terms, SAP grew 18 per cent as at third-quarter 2001. "We have been hit by a perfect storm, with several events happening at once. The dotcom crash, the US slowdown and the European and Japan slowdown," Hayman said.

He said many companies were using September 11 as an excuse for current economic woes; however, this event, he said, was just a final push as the economy was weakening before that.

"Businesses are at the edge of chaos. Business may never be the same again. This region's era of high growth is over. The crash of the dotcom devalued this [type of] technology, but this technology will drive business fundamentals."

Hayman said the Asia-Pacific region had to think more globally, and had to put a higher value on its product so the region's value extended beyond the "cheap labour source".

"We are at the tail end of the supply chain in this region."

As for the 'new, new economy' marketing spiel, Hayman said the company was being "tongue in cheek".

"Everyone was talking about the new economy; that profit was not as important as eyeballs." Hayman said with the demise of the dotcoms, traditional business strategies with new technology is all the rage, thus the 'new, new economy' tag line.

"People kept on saying you are not part of the new economy, and thank God we weren't involved."

Kelly Mills travelled to Sapphire as a guest of SAP

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