Sapphire expands prospects through acquisition

SAP specialist’s CEO shares the strategy behind the string of deals it has already signed this year

Sapphire has made three acquisitions over the past few months and could make a couple more this year as the pieces of the jigsaw come together to enable the channel player to deliver a number of SAP services to customers.

The firm moved for InCloud last week to bolster its SAP Business ByDesign capabilities and that deal came hot on the heels of ITOM Solution and Pioneer B1, deals that have already been struck this year.

“We’ve made three acquisitions so far and they brought us into slightly different territory,” said Ian Caswell, CEO of Sapphire Systems. “The Pioneer one, which was the smallest acquisition, in America was in many ways about just driving more scale within SAP Business One. The very recent one of InCloud was to support a real growth product for us, SAP Business ByDesign. ITOM added more ServiceNow expertise into the mix, giving Sapphire the chance to react to changing customer needs and the digitisation trend by bringing the different strands together.

“We want to morph, and we are in this process, from being really a recognised ERP provider into a digital operating platform provider, mainly around ERP. We have a big customer base of around 900 customers and what we want to do is provide the technology that will digitise them to really make a difference to what they are doing.”

Caswell talked about an example of Sapphire being able to integrate different platforms through ServiceNow and help customers automate processes that will help them save time. “It reduces the need of our customers to have as many people per team, particularly in their front office and back office,” he said.

Sapphire’s traditional customer base has been the mid-market and the firm is bringing together the expertise around SAP Business One, ByDesign or S for Hana Cloud to make sure those customers can take advantage of the technology.

“If you go into a large enterprise customer, it’s all going to be bespoke to their needs and hence a far bigger ticket price,” said Caswell. “But we think we can bring the costs right down by everybody essentially using the same product getting the same workflow engine. That way, hopefully, we can deploy it at a lot lower cost.”

Caswell said the three acquisitions have helped the business increase its revenues, but it remains focused on ensuring it can give its customers high levels of support. The business works with consultants spread across the world to support global customers and ensure they deliver a consistent experience with their SAP technology.

As well as being driven to put Sapphire in the driving seat when it comes to delivering integrated SAP services, Caswell also has a passion for sustainability across the business.

Sapphire is carbon neutral, and it has taken steps to ensure employees across the business understand the importance of sustainability.

“We calculate our carbon emissions – everything from people’s car journeys to aeroplane trips,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve got air-conditioning costs for servers in our kit for our hosting and we tot all that up and add 10% and then we plant trees in the Kenyan Rift Valley.”

Caswell said Sapphire has also done the same calculations for every company it has acquired. “The culture is something we tell all our suppliers and customers about, so that they might see it’s actually not that difficult to go carbon zero,” he added.

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