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Former Siebel exec to lead SAP financial services push

Former Siebel Systems vice president James Hughes will lead an expansion of financial services software in the U.S. and Canada.

SAP continued its hiring spree, drawing away another executive from one of its rivals to lead an expansion of SAP's financial services in the United States and Canada.

James Hughes, vice president and general manager for financial services at Siebel Systems, will head SAP's North American division of field sales representatives, software engineers and services operations for SAP's banking and insurance software suites.

SAP sells industry specific software for the banking, insurance and leasing industries. Called SAP for Banking, the software handles transactional banking processes, customer relationship management, financial accounting, cost controlling and profitability and risk analysis.

Sales of SAP's financial services and retail industry specific software have lagged behind other vertical industries. The software vendor said it would focus on improving sales in the two industries and increase market share in North America where the industry specific sales are weakest.

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"The banking and insurance industries are continuously changing and the demand for integrated technology solutions to support their customers' needs is critical," said SAP America CEO Bill McDermott in a statement.

During Hughes's tenure at Siebel, he supported sales for Siebel's existing products, as well as a number of product acquisitions. Prior to that, Hughes served as the president of Avistar Communications Corporation.

SAP has gone on a hiring spree over the last 18 months, attracting nine senior level executives from Oracle Corp., BEA Systems Inc., and other rivals. Last week, SAP said it planned to hire as many as 4,000 more employees at all its global divisions through the end of the year.

In March, SAP announced that it hired former Sun Microsystems executive George Paolini to boost its developer network. Paolini launched and directed a partner ecosystem initiative there and was credited with turning Java into the world's largest third-party developer community.

Many of SAP's new hires will oversee a shift off of SAP's core ERP suite and onto sales of analytics and composite applications, which bolt onto main ERP applications. As SAP develops and launches its services-enabled suite by 2007, innovation will come in the form of composite applications from the software vendor.

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