SAP buys Praxis to fill CRM gap in Business One

Expanding its SME offering is goal of purchase of tiny niche vendor

SAP will add new e-commerce and web-based CRM functionality to its Business One applications suite for small to medium-sized customers via its acquisition of CRM vendor Praxis.

The buy is the latest in a string of purchases SAP has made to fill gaps in its product portfolio.

SAP and Praxis didn’t disclose any financial details relating to the acquisition. All 12 employees of Praxis are joining SAP’s Small Business Solutions unit, says SAP Business One vice president Dan Kraus.

Praxis, a privately held software vendor in Minneapolis, already had a strong relationship with SAP and was a long-time Business One partner. Praxis has two products, NetPoint Commerce and NetPoint Focus.

NetPoint Commerce is an e-commerce offering aimed at small-to-medium sized enterprises wanting to engage in online selling and marketing, while NetPoint Focus is internet-based CRM software. Both products have been offered as extensions to SAP’s Business One and were integrated into the application suite via the Business One Software Development Kit (SDK) tool, Kraus says.

SAP plans to maintain the Praxis software and support its customer base, he says. “This change will be seamless to all of the 100 customers using the products, all of whom run them with SAP,” he says. SAP is likely to continue offering Praxis software as stand-alone products, as well as integrated with Business One, he says.

SAP is hoping the Praxis technology will differentiate Business One from other low-end business applications from Microsoft and Sage.

“With the addition of this on-demand functionality, SAP Business One will stand out from other offerings, by providing more comprehensive business management capabilities — covering on-premise and remote users and multichannel sales — in a single, integrated software product,” Kraus says.

SAP partners shouldn’t be alarmed by the vendor buying a peer. “We have made it very clear that SAP will extend the core, horizontal functionality of Business One and leave the vertical extensions to partners,” Kraus says. -

E-commerce and CRM have become “core pieces of functionality” that the majority of SMEs need, he says.

Therefore, SAP had to meet those user needs directly, by providing the capabilities as part of its application suite, not as third-party add-ons.

This isn’t the first time that SAP has acquired a company specifically to boost the capabilities of Business One.

In January 2005, it closed its purchase of iLytix Systems. It incorporated the Norwegian startup’s XL Reporter business reporting and budgeting tool into Business One.

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