Two years ago American Express recruited Canadian Richard Lichtenstein to run a new channel division in the U.S. promoting a partnership with SAP’s software for small and mid-sized businesses.

Yesterday Lichtenstein brought that arrangement to this country, but this time as vice- president

of business development at the RAM Group, a Vaughan, Ont.-based systems integrator.

The company announced it has been named the national reseller of the SAP Business One-American Express Edition, a suite composed of the SAP Business One software and a group of applications put together by Amex’s Tax and Business Services division.

It will also be sold through SAP’s 15 regional Business One VARs. To avoid conflicts, potential customers will register with SAP Canada; at that point the RAM Group won’t be able to pursue them.

However, on all deals the RAM Group will do implementation of the Amex part of the suite.

“”This is a key part of the growth of our business,”” said Lichtenstein. “”We are focused on delivering to the small and mid-size business. But we understand that to be different you can’t keep delivering commodity-type products.”” Until now the firm was known for developing IT infrastructure, he said. This deal brings it into brand-name business applications.

The suite runs on any Windows 2000 server hardware and a single Xeon processor, or can be bought preconfigured on an IBM xSeries server.

The first markets being targeted are warehouse and distribution firms and companies needing a point of sales solution.

SAP Business One, which was introduced here last year, is an integrated financial, distribution, and customer relationship application. Amex extended it by working with independent software vendors to add modules which include wireless warehouse management, electronic data interchange, document management, credit card processing and sales and tax applications which will run through Amex’s network.

Eventually, Lichtenstein said, Amex hopes to benefit through plans to put an icon on the desktops of users of special edition for downloading expenses and booking business trips through American Express’s travel division.

“”It’s opening more doors for my partners,”” Michel Vincent, vice-president of small and medium business for SAP Canada, said of the Amex edition.

“”Today they may lose a business opportunity because the (Business One) solution alone may not meet the needs of a particular customer. If I open more opportunities for them with a more extensive product in a vertical industry I give them more opportunities to close business.””

The Business One-Amex suite comes in three versions: the standard edition, which starts at $35,000 and is limited to three users of the warehouse management module and two trading partners; the professional edition, whose seat number can be customized; and the enterprise edition, which has full feature set.

Lichtenstein refused to give the RAM Group’s sales projections. “”It’s not about revenue first year. It’s about getting the base solution out cleanly first. Our goal is to get it implemented thoughout the country in every major region in the first year, happy and referanceable. Once we have that we’ll worry about sales.””

But Vincent said he wants “”big numbers. SAP is the ERP leader in the world. We made a decision we are going to cover the smaller end of the market and offer a strong product. The only intent is to be as powerful and relavent to the customer as we are to the mid-market and large customers.

“”There’s no reason why we would want to be number one in the enterprise and mid-market and insignificant at the SMB level.””

Business One resellers include 3Sys Technologie Inc. of Rimouski, Que.; BMD Inc. of Montreal; Coastal Range Systems Inc. of Burnaby, B.C.;Concentrix of Markham, Ont.; CRCS of Calgary; Sylogist of Calgary; EPIC Information Solutions of Winnipeg; Forgestik of Outremont, Que.; Implanciel Inc. of Laval, Que. (for Quebec and Atlantic Canada)and ISAC Technologies St-Georges, Que.

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