The saying, "The strong get stronger," was never truer than in the case of enterprise-software leader SAP AG in 1997. On Jan. 27 the titan of the market for business applications on the client-server platform reported sales of $3.36 billion for 1997, up 62%. Similarly, net income climbed 63% to $516 million.
Its not as if anyone in the industry was surprised, least of all SAP. In recent years the company had been expanding at a 40% annual rate, before hitting the afterburners last year. "We exceeded all of our goals," Paul Wahl, CEO of SAP America, told IndustryWeek. "Our sales in the Americas were particularly strong, up 91% from 1996."
Despite the strong showing, Wahl said SAP anticipates more normal growth this year, in the 30% to 35% range. He credits last years stellar performance to a pair of factors. The first is a program called Team SAP, whereby the software maker guarantees customers its support in making implementations work. "Our focus with Team SAP was to show you can really eliminate implementation concerns," Wahl explains.
Another contributor to the boom year was SAPs larger field staff, which was increased to 5,000 consultants who work on SAP projects worldwide. "The capacity to take on more work has been greatly extended," says Wahl, who is based at SAPs U.S. headquarters in Wayne, Pa. The software firm expects to add another 5,000 people this year, more than half of whom will be in the field organization. The Americas unit alone added 2,000 employees last year.