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SAP’s annual SapphireNow conference staged in Orlando Florida in May featured the who’s who and the what’s new for the world’s biggest software company. Nathan Luck reports.
Co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe discussed the recent acquisitions and convergence of platforms transforming SAP into a one-stop shop offering end-to-end solutions.
With innovation being one of the key themes of the conference, the pair discussed the pace and complexity of innovation set by Apple for the consumer market in terms of both new categories and new versions, and how it differs from enterprise software.
“There is one big difference. In the consumer world, everyone accepts that once a new version comes along, you throw away what you already have. That’s not true in enterprise software,” said Hagemann Snabe. The commitment around speed of innovation has been a key focus, according to Hagemann Snabe, with the company very explicitly defining innovation as not just the launch of the product, but its consumption as well.
“We believe there is an opportunity to add categories, but we are adding them in non-disruptive ways, so it’s not throwing what you already have away, it’s extending what you have. We benefit from the fact that the core that we have is already very modernised, service-oriented architecture which enables us to extend that core in much more rapid cycles,” Hagemann Snabe added.
The value of Vishal Sikka’s vision of ‘Timeless Software’ is now being realised, where different layers in the enterprise software stack can evolve at different speeds, and the company is demonstrating this ethos with three new categories added over the past 12 months.
“This new innovation is changing the game for customers,” said McDermott. “Avon is a prime example. When you have 6.5 million sales reps calling on customers, if you move from a paper-based and catalogue-based world to a truly digital device world, where all the choices the buyer can make are captured in that digital device, the buying experience is beautiful and the selling experience is beautiful.”
McDermott added that companies can now possess all the real-time analytics that need to be performed in a boardroom to see how things are going on the front line on a moment-by-moment basis.
“Finally there is the demand-driven supply chain, where everything from your inventory replenishment all the way through to the supplier network is handled – you now have an end-to-end connected company. Only now has technology come together at the enterprise level where this end-to-end innovation is actually possible.”
Speaking on the significance of rapid deployment solutions, Hagemann Snabe said, “It’s the core of this notion ‘How can we make software easier to consume?’ The rapid deployment solution is created to accelerate the implementation in the on-premise world. We have seen with the rapid deployment solution where we pre-configure industry-best practices so we can go out and install an on-premise CRM system in weeks, instead of months, and many times this year we have already beaten on-demand versions based on TCO, because it is much faster, and it’s much cheaper. Accelerate the adoption and simplify the consumption.”Timeless Software explained
Kaj van de Loo, SVP Technology Strategist for SAP, gave a presentation on creating real value from rapid innovation through ‘Timeless Software’.Talking about how this concept enables companies to adopt innovative products in existing system landscapes, van de Loo said, “It’s our way of designing our products in such a way that they can evolve gracefully over time. It’s also our way of bringing innovation to you without disrupting existing systems.”
As an example, Van de Loo outlined a typical SAP landscape – ERP system, Business Warehouse, applications like NetWeaver tying them together and Solution Manager. “How do we open up these systems in such a way that we give people access to this data without changing the underlying system? The answer to that is the Gateway that we spent the last two to three years designing and that we are now releasing as a product. It was designed specifically to make consumption of data and functionality in the Business Suite easier independent of what front-end technology you want to use with it.”
Van de Loo added that the Gateway is designed to be like a firelane between the somewhat complex world of SAP applications and the simple world of modern UI technologies, and a relatively simple way of developing, for example, mobile applications, or applications in Sharepoint. “What we have achieved with the Gateway is that the mobile developer or Sharepoint developer never has to leave their native habitat – the development environment they are comfortable with.”Real-time in action
Dr Vishal Sikka, member of the executive board, technology and innovation, SAP, outlined first-hand testimonials given by companies such as Casino and Unilever on the benefits of SAP real-time computing technology and how it transformed their businesses.
“We have been rethinking the world of retail together with partners and customers,” Sikka said. “Features that enhance and streamline the purchasing experience.” Casino, an international retail group with 200,000 employees across 11,000 stores in nine countries, relayed SAP’s assistance in providing the company with a “precision retailing approach – multi-channel, consistent, personalised customer experience with interaction, in real-time on a oneto-one basis”.
Warren Burns from Unilever said new SAP technologies have given the company the ability to take processes that are important differentiators, own them entirely, and build intuitive user interfaces over the top of traditional ERP and CRM processes or tools.Key announcements
SAP and Microsoft integrate virtualisation and cloud
After naming Microsoft ‘SAP Global Technology Partner of the Year’ at SAPPHIRE NOW 2011, the two software giants announced plans to improve integration with enhanced access for .NET developers and improved interoperability between the companies’ cloud and virtualisation technologies to promote application innovation and flexibility without disruption.This level of access will help redefine the SAP/Microsoft developer landscape with shorter development cycles, lower costs and openness into core applications. Microsoft and SAP are also planning to provide integration between upcoming landscape management software from SAP, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V technology, bringing greater agility for cloud management and deployments.
“Building on the successful partnership with Duet Enterprise, SAP and Microsoft plan to offer interoperability and a native development experience, so that a .NET developer can easily build applications in visual studio that run across the SAP and Microsoft platforms,” said Sikka. “Interoperability is a core advantage that SAP and Microsoft can deliver to the customers we both share.”Gateway vastly extends reach to new users
SAPPHIRE NOW also served as the lauchpad for SAP NetWeaver Gateway technology, an open, standards-based framework for extending the reach of business software to an exponentially larger number of users, developers and environments, enabling customers to free up their SAP applications from the confines of the desktop and access them from any environment, tool or device. The technology also enables developers to create new applications using the development tools of their choice.
“Using this technology framework, companies will have the ultimate flexibility to develop and deploy solutions geared for the way their people work that are easy to build and simple to use without disrupting their existing IT landscapes,” said a company spokesperson.Innovation for Business Suite customers
The enhancements enable customers to switch on new software features for unique industry and line-of-business processes, without disrupting operations to undergo system upgrades.The software was shipped to over 450 customers during the ramp-up phase, more than 100 above target, with customers running ERP 6.0 now able to activate more than 300 new business functions including:
“Over the past 18 months, SAP has been releasing technologies enabling the rapid creation and deployment of mobile apps through our platform and development tools,” said Dr. Raj Nathan, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sybase. “Now we have several new packaged mobile apps that will drastically reduce the costs and time needed for organisations to implement a mobility strategy. Enterprise mobility is a phenomenon that transcends all borders in the workplace and SAP is out in front of this trend as it revolutionises the mobile space by making mobile the new desktop.”SAP and Sybase plan combined ERP, Data Management Solution
In a combined solution to maximise value with greater efficiency, providing instant access to critical business information and lower costs for SAP Customers, SAP has announced its ERP application will be the first Business Suite app to run on the high-performance Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) – the same high-performance relational database management system (DBMS) that powers Wall Street.
The companies’ plans foresee SAP ERP releases being certified out-of-the-box with the latest Sybase ASE inmarket releases, and the lifecycle of Sybase ASE being fully synchronised with SAP maintenance policies to simplify release and deployment planning for customers.
“SAP solutions enable enterprises to execute and optimise business and IT strategies by delivering a platform that runs essential, industry-specific and business-support processes,” said Sanjay Poonen, president, global solutions, SAP. “With more than 30,000 customers, Sybase ASE is a proven leader in enterprise database management. Sybase ASE is a great alternative database for the large base of SAP customers looking for options to improve operational efficiency and reduce overall costs.”
In the analytics area, the 10.0 release of SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solutions now enables customers to be more productive, agile and risk-aware, allowing users across the company to contribute to managing enterprise performance by moving EPM best practices beyond the finance department to managers throughout the company. The EPM solutions open the next chapter of SAP’s business analytics vision, which is to enable people to make timely decisions that are well-informed and guided by corporate strategy, the current state of the market and the company itself, and takes advantage of SAP’s in-memory technology to provide increased agility and more detailed scenarios. Among the new features included in this release are BI workspaces with embedded EPM content, delivery to mobile devices, business area scorecards for areas such as CRM, ERP and HR, and deeper integrated between EPM and GRC applications.
This article was first published in Inside SAP Winter 2011.
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