SAP Duet Video

Having seen it at SAPPHIRE 06, I wrote about the importance of Duet for both SAP and Microsoft: “Duet’s importance by far exceeds what the limited number of currently available scenarios might imply: for SAP it means potentially tripling / quadrapling their user base, even if indirectly, and for Microsoft it’s another way to lock users into their Office suite.”

Jason Wood posted an insightful, analytical article on his blog with screenprints and all the bells and whistles.

Now there is an online video showing several scenarios. Use the pull-down menu to select the different tracks available.


Web 2.0 in the Enterprise – Round …n.. (I can’t keep track)

Stowe Boyd picks up where Ben Metcalfe left off in Web 2.0 doesn’t work in the mothership, but… essentially recommending that Web 2.0 is best introduced in the Enterprise “in a satellite operation at arms length from the rest of your operation

While this is often the easy solution, I think a case can be made for the seamless mashup of process- and workflow-centric enterprise applications and the more creative, unstructured, collaborative tools like wikis.  Case in point is JotSpot’s integration with based on the Appexhange. Granted their target is not the largest of enterprises, but another example I heard of at SAP’s annual conference is the SAP Help Desk wiki by  Socialtext targeting the entire SAP ecosystem.  In any case, I agree that spontaneous, project-focused use is how wikis will become adopted in the Enterprise, but at the same time I believe they should be a logical extension of any Enterprise system – SAP, are starting to recognize, and I think the day when we’ll have both top-down (enterprise sale as part of the large package) and bottom-up (departmental initiative) penetration is not that far.

But then Stowe goes one step further, and this is where the trouble starts:

…the larger question — whether the enterprise would be more agile, more adaptive, and more of a survivor is it could somehow break away from the need for slow-to-change applications that span the needs of many departments, beholden to many but satisfying none — has not really been addressed by Ben or the others I am interviewing on the on ramp to CTC 2006….
My gut says yes. Enterprises would be better off if their IT departments could move to small, low cost, web-based apps that satisfy local needs — a project group, one campus in Denver, the marketing department in Japan — without having to subordinate local needs to corporate controls. The benefits of enterprise standardization are measured in the IT budget, but the true costs are distributed thoughout the enterprise: less collaboration in the research team leads to slower innovation, a less-thatn-intuitive UI for the sale staff in France leads to lowered sale numbers, and a heavyweight finance solution that slows down invoicing costs serious bank in collection time

Oh, boy. When we’re talking about large multinational corporations, as Stowe does in his example, the primary benefit of standardization and integration is NOT measured in the IT budget. The key benefit is competitiveness, simply being able to conduct business.  Here’s a case study from my “previous life” when I was implementing SAP systems in exactly these types of companies: The Client, a major test and measurement equipment manufacturer had no real-time visibility of their available-to-promise inventory throughout their own plants accross the US and several countries in Asia and Europe.  It typically took them 3 weeks to be able to promise a delivery date to customers. Needless to stay they started to lose business. After the SAP implementation customers could receive the promised delivery date in real-time. For this company the implementation of the standard system was not an option, or driven by IT savings, it was the only way to stay in business.

As a matter of fact, prior to standardizing on SAP the individual plants operated exactly according to Stowe’s ideal model: each doing whatever they wanted, picking their own systems that simply did not talk to each other.

Web 2.0, collaboration is great, it has it’s place in the Enterprise, but so do those “ugly complex” transactional systems.  Don’t try to run your supply chain on a wiki

Update , more than three years later: Would You Manage CRM with a Wiki?

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How SAP Ended up Promoting NetSuite

NetSuite, the provider of perhaps the best hosted integrated software solution for the SMB market tried to rain on SAP’s parade during SAPPHIRE 06 in Orlando. They planned to host a cocktail party in a hotel suite right across the Convention Center. The party’s theme was “SAP for the rest of us” and the email invitation posed a question/answer: “Who will become the SAP for the midmarket? (It Ain’t SAP),” Cute.

Of course SAP got p***ed and enforced it’s contractual right to cancel competitive events in any of the SAPPHIRE venues. SAP’s Spokesman Bill Wohl called NetSuite’s move “guerilla marketing“.

Now, what’s wrong with Guerilla Marketing? It’s fun … if you have humor to appreciate it. Last week SAP didn’t. The result? NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson laughed off the “loss” and will hold a web-conference instead. This being a juicy story of course it got picked up in the media and quite a few blogs – the media blitz lasted a few days, then will start again around the web-conference … so basically SAP’s decision to kill the party provided NetSuite with a fair amount of publicity – exactly what it needs as it ramps up for its IPO planned later this year. Zach should send a thank-you note to SAP.

Here’s what I think SAP should have done: let it happen, and set up their own counter-party. Had it been allowed to proceed it would have been a noon-event. Not that NetSuite is a negligible company, in fact they have an excellent product. Some say is just a glorified contact manager relative to NetSuite, and I tend to agree. (I put my money where my mouth is: in my last corporate job I became a NetSuite customer, after careful comparison to Salesforce). That said, NetSuite is targeting strictly the SMB market, in fact more the “S” than the “M”, while SAP despite all their SMB initiatives is still largely the Enterprise Company – SMB is just not their sweet spot. SAP had their own SMB people in Orlando (I interviewed Gadi Shamia, SVP for SMB Solutions, and intend to write about it soon) – they should have set up their own party right next to NetSuite, and present SAP’s vision for that market segment. In fact they could have embraced the NetSuite event (steal their show) and make up SAP logo’d signs pointing to both events.

The impact of the NetSuite party, especially in an environment where most participants are already biased towards SAP would have been minimal. In fact NetSuite had more to gain from the cancellation and the resulting media blitz then actually proceeding with the party … so much so, that I wonder if NetSuite intentionally leaked the news to SAP – a brilliant PR coup, if you ask me.

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SAP Without SAP – Duet

More than a decade ago as Project Manager implementing SAP solutions I could not understand why the Client’s PM showed absolutely no interest in getting SAP-trained, or even attempting to log on to the SAP system. The only software product he ever touched was email. Years passed, and as I climbed the ladder, I found myself in a similar situation: locked in to Office products most of the time – just like millions of corporate employees whose daily life does not involve actively conducting transactions in their Enterprise system (SAP). They need to occasionally review/approve an item or react to an exception alert though. They are the (often management-level) employees who will not directly use SAP, even though timely access to SAP data is critical to their decision-making process – or to somebody else’s daily job.

Thanks to Duet they can now have the SAP data at their fingerprints without touching SAP itself. The long-awaited (and often promised ) SAP-Microsoft Office integration has finally arrived.

What was announced at last years’s SAPPHIRE in Europe as the Mendocino Project became a product, the second preview of which was released a week before SAPPHIRE 06 under the name Duet. Considering Microsoft’s role, just having a friendly name is a major achievement itself – it could have been something as friendly as Microsoft Office Extension to mySAP ERP 2004, Enterprise Version, Release 1.0. (read Microsoft Uber-Blogger Robert Scoble on product naming…)

I’ve seen a presentation of some of the current features as well as the roadmap for the next year, and also had a chance to sit down with Dennis Moore, GM of Emerging Solutions, who provided the blogger group with additonal insight.

Currently Duet (which is a boxed product) supports MS Office 2003 and mySAP ERP 2004, and there are 4 business scenarios available:

  • Leave Management
  • Time Management
  • Organization Management
  • Budget Monitoring

The final release is due in June 06 and will soon be followed by two value packs.

Value Pack 1 is due in Q3 06, new scenarios will include recruitment and travel management, enhanced analytics and support for mySAP ERP 2005, the current platform which, per Shai Aggassi will stay for years to come.

Value Pack 2 is expected in Q4 06 with some line of business functionality becoming available, e.g. Sales contacts, activity, Purchasing. MS Office 2007 will be supported.

It’s important to clarify that Office will not become the primary user interface of the “transactional worker”, i.e. you will not be creating product masters, running a shop-floor, etc. What Duet is, is a natural fit for a workflow (think of roles, limits ..etc) -based processing of messages and underlying data triggered by events, rules and exceptions.

Duet’s importance by far exceeds what the limited number of currently available scenarios might imply: for SAP it means potentially tripling / quadrapling their user base, even if indirectly, and for Microsoft it’s another way to lock users into their Office suite.
Duet is a step in SAP’s declared strategy of opening up access to their data and processes via a number of user interfaces, including Office, Portal, Mobile devices ..etc. It also fits in the “Sap Simplified” philosophy of owning the Business Processes and letting go of the user experience.

I tend to disagree with AMR’s concern on the large number of prerequisites: mySAP ERP 2004 or 2005, MS Office, Exchange server, and specific applications for some scenarios, e.g. E-Recruiting 6.0 for Recruitment Management, mySAP SRM 5.0 for purchasing management and CRM 4.0 for sales activity management. Yes, these are prerequisites, but the point is that even though Duet is a boxed shrink-wrapped (thanks for the comment!) product (I’ve seen a white box at SAPPHIRE, whether real or mock-up), it is not expected to sell as a standalone product on it’s own merits. It will expand access to additional users within corporate customers already using both SAP and Microsoft products, i.e. likely to already have the prerequisites.

Talk about prerequisites, pricing for Duet, and specifically the underlying SAP access will be an interesting challenge, since SAP’s model is typically charging $$$$ a smaller user base, while MS relies on $ from a large number of users – there has to be a model in between.

Not everyone in Microsoft welcomes Duet: the folks at MS Dynamics are clearly unhappy. They even produced a so-called White Paper comparing Duet to their own solution, Snap. “So-called”, because it does not even attempt to be unbiased. It praises Dynamics and Snap, while listing the dry facts about Duet, completely forgetting the fact that as Enterprise systems Dynamics and SAP are really apples and oranges… or I should say Ford vs. Rolls Royce.

IBM isn’t sleeping either: IBM to sing in Harmony with SAP to match Duet. IBM’s Harmony, which I haven’t had a chance to see, claims to play a similar role with Lotus Notes. It clearly is a competitive product, as far as Duet (which is jointly owned by MS and SAP) is concerned – but from SAP’s point of view, it’s just one more user interface, exposing more knowledge workers to SAP. The more the merrier.

Related blog posts:

Update (5/23) : Fellow SAPPHIRE blogger and SAP/MSFT investor Jason Wood posted a very detailed, thorough analysis on his blog – with screen prints and all the bells and whistles. Oh, and Jason – here’s my pick for a famous duo whose duet (pun intended) had an impact on the world. Update (5/30): Here’s an entire new blog dedicated to Duet (well, actually discussing Duet while promoting a 3rd-party solution). Thanks, Vinnie for pointing it out.


SAP’s Vision on the Changing Role of CIO’s

SAP is not a technology company, it’s the world’s leading business process company – says Shai Agassi, President of SAP’s Product and Technology Group.

Niel Robertson, one of the SAPPHIRE bloggers (or the Brotherhood as we’re often referred to) thinks through the consequences in an excellent article, The New Corporate World Order. It’s a very deep, thoughtful post, simply too good to summarize, please just read it. I was trying to find where I heard Shai express similar thoughts, and I realized it wasn’t at SAPPHIRE 2006, but at Software 2006, just a few weeks earlier. Here’s the relevant slide:

The entire presentation, titled Business Process Co-Innovation; “Enterprise 3.0” is available in PDF format here.

Update (5/23): Niel’s original posts created quite a debate, so he reposted the comments here. Wow, comments take over.. this is the real conversation!


SAP’s New On-Demand SRM Offering through Acquisition of Frictionless Commerce

Quick news from the press conference at SAPPHIRE 2006: Shai Agassi has just announced the all-cash acquistion of Frictionless Commerce, a leading Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) software provider. As a result of the acquistion, On-Demand SRM will be the second SaaS offering by SAP, following the recent introduction of On-Demand CRM. Second, but certainly not last, as Leo Apotheker clarified during the Press Conference, over time all SAP’s offering will be made available in the “hybrid” model.

Update: See initial analysis by AMR Research.

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