SAP SME Event Focuses on Mobile, the Cloud, Entrepreneurs

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New York City Small-Business Scene

In New York City, 99 percent of businesses are considered small. According to Nov. 29 SAP report, 94 percent of SME founders said "growth" was their top priority. (The bottom of Manhattan is portrayed here, with Brooklyn to its right and New Jersey at left.)

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Talent Search

Following growth, the ability to attract and retain talent was also a priority, along with developing new products and accessing capital.

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SME Panel

The event opened with a discussion between (from left to right) John Evarts, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of cloud-based media-content company Mediafly; Jorge Silva-Puras with the U.S. Small Business Administration; Linda Rottenberg, whose company Endeavor Global backs entrepreneurs it believes have particular potential; Bill McDermott, SAP's co-CEO; Sunil Hirani, who has founded at least four financial businesses in Manhattan; and Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City. Regarding the current economy, the group agreed with Rottenberg's assessment that "entrepreneurs do best when things are at their worst."

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Creating an Entrepreneurial Culture

"New York City is a center of design, talent, great universities—we're a natural source for the birth of new businesses. So what we've done is work very hard to link sources of capital [to the businesses that need it]. ... We have an entrepreneur as a mayor. It's no accident that we're so [pro-entrepreneur]," said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City.

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"We have to support both the high-growth business that have particular needs as well as Main Street businesses. Main Street represents more than 50 percent of employers in the U.S.," said Jorge Silva-Puras, with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA has a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) that lends money to small businesses at modest rates. It has an annual budget of $3 billion, but because the program isn't well-known "a chunk of that goes unutilized each year." John Evarts, at left, described how he has been able to better leverage his capital using the real-time views in his SAP solution.

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Building on HANA

Vasu Netrakanti (at left) gave a presentation on creating a scheduling solution for automotive manufacturers that takes advantage of what SAP calls HANA's "in-memory computing platform," which offers supremely quick analytics. Netrakanti's HANA-based Optessa solution can handle in less than two minutes highly complex, data-heavy schedules that competing software takes 30 minutes to complete.

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Orchestra, an SAP partner, has created cloud-based solutions for niche organizations on top of SAP software. The solutions—one of which is called OrchestratedBeer and is focused on the craft beer market—can be run on any device from anywhere in the world.

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Hilliard's Beer

Ryan Hilliard, CEO of the Seattle-based craft brewery Hilliard's Beer, is an Orchestra customer. "The other option was to have a server in our brewery, and I didn't want to deal with that," said Hilliard. "When I saw that Orchestra was doing Saas [software as a service], I said sign me up. I have seven employees—I didn't want to hire an IT guy."

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Tim Minahan, who oversees global marketing at Ariba, SAP's network for business-to-business collaboration, talked about the importance of networking. "McKinsey found that networked enterprises were 50 percent more likely to outperform their peers," he said.

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What the Cloud Can Do

While businesses big and small are using the cloud, it offers small businesses capabilities that can mean the difference between succeeding and failing. As one panel participant put it, "If you can't scale, you will fail. The No. 1 reason small businesses fail is that they didn't plan on being big businesses."

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