Ketera Gets SAP Certified: How Important are Vendor/Network Ecosystems?

As I came across this announcement from Ketera earlier this week, I was reminded how seriously vendors are taking the SAP NetWeaver certification process. According to the announcement, Ketera has achieved "Powered by SAP NetWeaver certification". And from reading the announcement, it would appear that they're focused on enabling SAP customers with their own catalog content management solution (which competes against MDM).

With this certification, Ketera joints Emptoris, Ariba and other providers in the Spend Management field who have gone through the time intensive and somewhat expensive NetWeaver certification process for one or more of their solutions. Clearly, this is not something that SAP's SRM and sourcing competitors / partners are taking lightly (typically, the process takes anywhere from 3-6 months to complete and costs in the five or six figures).

But will this help Ketera win new business in the SAP installed based? Yes and no. In my view, the NetWeaver certification is something that will help defuse any IT concerns of looking outside the SAP Borg for solutions. In other words, while it might not bring Ketera any new deals, I'm guessing it will help smooth and accelerate the sales process, not to mentioning helping them close more effectively against competitors who might lack similar credentials.

Personally, I believe SAP's approach to offering this certification is something that provides them with a major competitive advantage to Oracle, who has pretty much shunned the idea of building a Spend Management application ecosystem with its solutions in the center. By giving customers the freedom to choose native SAP solutions, xApp bolt-ons, or third party solutions that are certified to integrate directly with the NetWeaver stack and architecture, SAP is empowering its customers with the freedom of choice while bringing the competition closer. After all, "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer," the saying goes.

In my view, Ariba should to take a similar approach with its platform and network solutions, encouraging an even strong certified or "powered by" ecosystem similar to SAP's approach. While this may cost them some deals to partner competitors, it will provide greater lock-in for the Ariba platform in the long term. Perhaps Ariba might even consider a dual-certification approach with its partners who care to go down that route (e.g., by integrating with the Ariba ASN, a "platinum" certification process might also include some type of SAP certification as well). Food for network thought ...

Jason Busch

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