A study released by SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) shows that three out of four small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) see IT and technology suppliers not just as an external resource but as vital to their business.


The SAP Business Partnership Study*, polled 300 SMEs in the United States and 300 in Germany, explored the emotional and intellectual factors that drive these partnerships. The traits were similar to what one would expect in a personal relationship: more than three-fourths (80%) of business leaders surveyed said trust and cultural fit were significantly more important than cost savings.


The study showed that SME’s are looking for a closer relationship with IT and software suppliers. Similar to bigger, blue chip companies, mutual respect and trust are more important than cost savings.


SME’s businesses often lack of in-house IT resources and the implementation and system maintenance expertise of larger organizations, but they still need to use new technology to compete, innovate and win in an increasingly competitive and globalized market.


Today, technology vendors are being used by business leaders for consultation (76%), for insight and advice (79%) and to anticipate needs and risks (76%).


Other highlights of the study include:

  • Almost three-fourths (74%) of U.S. respondents say their business aims to maintain their most important IT and technology partnership long term. They say that investment in a reliable partner is more vital to business growth than investing in the technology itself.
  • Participants cite collaboration (70%), honesty (81%) and open communication (78 percent) about what is and isn’t working as crucial factors in selecting an IT or technology partner to do business with.
  • More than three-fourths (United States 81%; Germany 77%) of respondents felt that successful business relationships helped facilitate knowledge exchange and learning.

Infographic: Pleasure Doing Business With You


The findings highlight the expanded role that IT vendors are expected to play by their small and medium sized businesses in this new era of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.


SME’s are changing how they measure their return of investment (ROI), looking for technology partners rather than service providers.  Just as with inter-personal relationships, more than three-fourths (80%) of business executives surveyed said trust and cultural fit were significantly more important in their partnerships with IT vendors than cost savings.


*The SAP Business Partnership Study survey was conducted online by Research Now on behalf of SAP in October 2017 and consisted of feedback from 300 IT decision-makers from SMEs (100–4,999 employees) in the United States and 300 in Germany. Companies surveyed represented a variety of industries, including professional services, consumer product goods, retail, wholesale and manufacturing. All analyses were performed by FH Global Intelligence. The full results can be found here.


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