SAP Coming to Your Next Sports and Entertainment Event

SAP has announced plans to acquire Ticket-Web GmbH & Co. KG, a provider of ticketing solutions and niche customer relationship management (CRM) software for sports and entertainment promoters. Ticket-Web employees will become part of SAP, and the deal is expected to close during the second quarter of 2013. The move is expected to pave the way for SAP to offer enhanced solutions to help promoters, venues, and teams market events over the Internet and better support arena management. Based in Wildau, Germany, Ticket-Web is established in Europe with its main product, ENTREE-tickets, an online ticketing service. The company also has niche complementary solutions for customer financial process management and CRM.

These days, tens of thousands of transactions such as ticket sales can be executed in hours, if not minutes. These transactions could come from fans anywhere, increasingly via mobile devices. Flexible, easy-to-use, and end-user-oriented dynamic ticketing is critical for all sports clubs, stadiums, and entertainment franchises to win and retain customers. When combined with enterprise software solutions, including business intelligence (BI), enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, and financials, an integrated ticketing solution can help promoters boost attendance, deepen customer engagement, and optimize profitability by tailoring offers to individual customers and expanding their business.

Carving Out a Niche

While Ticket-Web will build the basis for a new integrated sports solution from SAP, it can also be joined to other back-end systems, just as SAP can run with other ticketing systems. By enhancing SAP Business Suite software, the SAP Business ByDesign cloud solution, and the SAP Business One application with club and stadium management functionality, SAP could offer viable ERP solutions tailored specifically for a much smarter and faster management of sports and entertainment arenas.

SAP cannot easily beat, Oracle Siebel, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM in a general CRM and marketing automation market share game, but it can do it by tackling some niche segments. One prospect of this acquisition could be to create a ticketing solution that could leverage the high-speed SAP HANA database technology as well as real-time business analytics, mobile tools, and cloud solutions. SAP envisions a scenario where the high-speed SAP HANA platform, combined with BI reporting tools, could give promoters insights—in real time—to better understand which marketing tactics worked and which did not, giving them far more speed and agility to refine offerings to better respond to consumer needs and improve sales.

In fact, SAP recently disclosed that SAP HANA-based Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) in the realms of CRM and BI are growing fastest in this so-called “engineered services” portfolio. Ticket-Web looks like a great add-on capability but it remains to be seen how much of the purported growth will be based on bundling it with ERP, CRM, BI, and other SAP suites. SAP loves to bundle software and then claim incredible new module growth. For example, via the magic of bundling, SAP PLM has had impressive numbers on paper for years. But a fair amount of SAP Process PLM license revenue has never actually been turned into implemented software. For most of the 2000s, almost every SAP ERP deal in process industries pulled in an SAP PLM deal. As soon as the ERP implementation started, it wasn't rare for PLM specialist vendors to get a call and then sell their more functional process PLM offering to the company implementing the SAP ERP system.

This “shelfware” situation will not necessarily be the case with the sports and entertainment CRM. If you are starting from a low base revenue or unit number, you can easily scale and have whopping growth. It remains to be seen whether this ticket solution’s growth or opportunity will be big enough to impact SAP’s profits. But it will certainly expand SAP’s competitiveness in esoteric markets where its competitors are not currently well represented.
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