SAP Doubles Indian Customers, Still Lags IBM

Includes: IBM, SAP
by: Larry Dignan

SAP (NYSE:SAP) has doubled its customer base in India, sent its entire executive board to the country and reaffirmed plans to invest $1 billion in the developing nation by 2010.

For good measure, SAP partnered with Wipro on a research center.

The ERP giant announced its India progress in two statements on Tuesday. One statement focused on doubling its Indian customer base from 1,000 to 2,000 and another touted a Wipro partnership.

India will be critical to SAP (all BTL posts on SAP and all resources) if it is going to reach its goal of having 100,000 customers by 2010. For SAP to hit its goal it’s going to have to reach more small and mid-sized companies and target emerging markets. SAP noted that it took nine years to reach 1,000 customers in India and a year to double that tally.

Also see: Offshore outsourcing rates headed higher

While SAP is showing progress in India, other companies have made a much bigger splash. For instance, IBM (NYSE:IBM) has 53,000 workers in India. Businessweek chronicled IBM’s India efforts Aug. 23. SAP said it is expanding its India lab to a center in Gurgaon. It has also has an India hub in Bangalore.

Technology companies increasingly see India as more than just a place to deliver services. India is rapidly becoming a market to court new customers. One common thread between SAP and IBM: Both tech giants want India customers. IBM has been closing deals with Indian companies at a rapid clip. SAP is also looking to grab customers in India and China.

In Tuesday’s statement, SAP cited new customers such as NTPC, India’s largest thermal power generating company, and ITC Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division, a division of ITC Ltd. (ITC). NTPC and ITC’s division are installing SAP for Utilities and SAP Business Suite, respectively.

Separately, SAP announced that Wipro will become a SAP global services partner and establish a lab to showcase service oriented architecture and how to use SAP most effectively.

SAP vs. IBM 1-yr chart: