SAP Watch


March 19, 2008  11:09 AM

SAP to have co-CEO again?

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

According to Germany’s Boersen-Zeitung newspaper, SAP is considering the elevation of current Deputy Chief Executive Leo Apotheker to co-CEO alongside Henning Kagermann.

If it pans out, it won’t be the first time SAP has had a co-CEO; Kagermann was once co-CEO along with Hasso Plattner. Co-CEOs aren’t unheard of in business; companies ranging from Schwab to Verizon have had them. For some reason, though, the phenomenon is much rarer in the technology industry. Can you imagine Larry Ellison or Marc Benioff having co-CEOs?

Apotheker is supposed to become co-CEO next month, according to Boersen-Zeitung’s anonymous sources. Keep your eyes peeled.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor

March 18, 2008  10:28 AM

Salesforce.com: SAP hasn’t innovated

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

According to Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, SAP has “not seen innovation in the last 10 years.” Those comments were made in a recent interview with ZDNet, in which Benioff twice claimed that SAP has not been responsible for creating anything “unique to the industry or value-added technology.” This comment was particularly provocative because Benioff seems to believe that Salesforce.com has been responsible for e-business innovation in a way that SAP has not. The logical response to that assertion is that, whatever the case with SAP may be, Salesforce.com is not an innovator either. Siebel tried hosted CRM before Salesforce.com, and the Salesforce.com AppExchange is manifestly indebted to the iTunes and eBay B2C models.

Salesforce.com’s key innovation has actually been its marketing strategy, which has caused Salesforce.com to become the company most commonly associated with the hosted/on demand paradigms despite the fact that other companies got there first. Sure, Salesforce.com got the execution and marketing right, but this still doesn’t constitute the kind of disruptive innovation that Benioff wants to claim for himself and deny to SAP.

SAP, meanwhile, pursues innovation through not only its regional labs, which may commit as much of 10-15 percent of their resources to investigating emergent technologies, but also through the SAP Innovation Institute, which reaches out to universities and executives to collaborate on emerging technology and business trends. Much of SAP’s innovation is on the business process front, as the company assimilates process flows into the core platform. Business process change is not as sexy as the debut of a fancy Web 2.0 tool, and the daily grind of development represents more of an incremental than a game-changing innovation, but it’s none the less important for all that.

Benioff states, “I have a hard time thinking about what SAP is going to be known for at the end of the day.” This comment demonstrates the Salesforce.com guerrilla marketing culture in action; it signals the importance Benioff places on an e-business company to be “known” for something rather than, for example, to do something quietly well.

To read what SAP thinks about Salesforce.com’s model, read our interview with SAP’s Zia Yusuf.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 17, 2008  12:52 PM

Partners, platforms and the SAP economy

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

It’s important for SAP to succeed in growing its partner ecosystem. In any battle with Microsoft, for example, SAP will need to muster a credible challenge to Redmond’s vast partner channel.

We recently spoke to Zia Yusuf, EVP of SAP’s Global Ecosystem and Partner Group, to get a status check on SAP’s collaborative efforts. We ended up learning more about SAP’s equity investment strategy, the importance of SDN, and even an opinion on why the kind of Web 2.0 embedded in Salesforce.com’s AppExchange won’t work in a B2B context.

Read our writeup of the conversation with Yusuf here.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 13, 2008  10:22 AM

Microsoft targets SAP

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

The inherent tension in the Microsoft-SAP alliance was spelled out by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during his keynote at yesterday’s Convergence 2008 event: “SAP is sometimes a collaborator, sometimes competition.”

Competition is the aspect of the relationship that is coming to the forefront right now, as Microsoft’s ongoing interest pits Redmond against Walldorf for high stakes: The small and medium-sized business market. Convergence 2008, for example, has highlighted Microsoft’s ERP and CRM products, both of which play to the mid-market.

Cooperation between the two companies is largely in the form of Duet, the technology partnership that allows Microsoft products to serve as a front end for SAP applications. Duet has several hundred thousand customers and is generating revenue for both companies.

With both Microsoft’s business applications and Microsoft-SAP Duet going strong, the question is when the existing ‘co-opetition’ between the two companies will tip over into full-fledged rivalry. The mid-market is a hugely lucrative space for e-business software providers and may yet break up the Duet.

Finally, it’s interesting to see how Microsoft’s messaging geniuses managed to pull one over on SAP on Microsoft’s SAP partnership page. Here, Microsoft defines itself as making SAP “People-Ready,” as if SAP on its own is not people-ready. It’s a subtle point, but it illustrates the scope of Microsoft’s ambition and calls into question Redmond’s ability to sustain a long-term partnership with a ‘co-opetitor’ such as SAP.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 12, 2008  11:24 AM

The cost of SAP HCM

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

How much does it cost to go live with SAP Human Capital Management (HCM)? The Park Hotels of India, speaking to trade journal Express Hospitality, recently disclosed that it paid roughly $371,500 for SAP HCM software, training, and implementation for an organization of 1,800 people.

The Park Hotels’ purchase of SAP HCM price disclosure was an interesting event in a number of ways. The company, which went live with SAP late last year, is:

  • The first SAP customer of any kind in the Indian hospitality sector.
  • One of the first publicly known Indian customers of SAP HCM.
  • One of SAP’s few service-oriented purchasers of HCM (many of SAP’s reference HCM customers are manufacturers and public sector organizations).

The Park Hotels’ deal with SAP HCM was in 15 million Indian rupees. The Indian rupee has not depreciated too badly against the Euro, meaning that it is not prohibitively expensive for Indian companies to buy SAP and other European software. However, the Indian rupee has done quite well against the dollar since 2006, raising the question of whether Indian companies may reinvest some of that currency strength in buying U.S. IT products.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 11, 2008  10:08 AM

Process manufacturers: A guide to ERP functionality

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

A new report from Aberdeen Research discovered that best-in-class process manufacturers tend to take specific approaches to their ERP strategy by deploying:

  • ERP that provides integrated order entry, procurement, planning and production, and financial management.
  • CRM, logistics, and delivery management systems integrated with manufacturing operations [themselves owned by ERP].
  • Forward and backward traceability.
  • Attribute-based rules and routing.
  • Supplier compliance and collaboration.
  • Enterprise Asset Management (EAM).

Being a good process manufacturer isn’t as simple as your ERP strategy, but the best process manufacturers do indeed have a recognizable approach to ERP characterized by the action points above.

Aberdeen adds that sound business process discipline, knowledge management, performance management, and reporting (e.g. for regulatory reasons) also characterize best-in-class process manufacturers.

SAP was one of the Aberdeen report’s sponsors.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 10, 2008  10:07 AM

SAP Argentina: A hot opportunity

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

One of IT’s most frequently asked questions is, “How can I turn SAP knowledge into money?” The answer to this question typically involves becoming a consultant or systems integrator employee. However, SAP itself offers a limited number of employment opportunities for everyone from developers to business-level consultants.

An interesting trend in SAP’s employment practices is the way in which smaller countries are becoming hotbeds of SAP hiring activities. Consider, for example, Argentina, where SAP is currently trying to fill 36 jobs. For Spanish-speaking SAP career aspirants in position, these are plum opportunities — some of which have been listed as open for several months, perhaps indicating that SAP has had trouble filling them. This is an interesting situation because, as some you may know from experience, it is much rarer to find SAP positions that remain open this long in the United States or Western Europe.

Some of SAP Argentina’s jobs don’t even appear to require a knowledge of Spanish, as they are posted in English (other job notices are in Spanish only, or in English and Spanish). Potential applicants, take note!

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 7, 2008  4:18 PM

SAP GRC Conference Preview

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

On March 10, SAP’s annual Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) conference will begin in Orlando, FL. We talked to Narina Sippy, SVP and GM of SAP’s GRC Group, to get a quick preview of the major announcements from the event. Sippy made four product news disclosures:

  • The Enterprise Risk Management module will integrate with SAP Strategy Management. This means that risk appetite, KPIs, and other policies defined in Risk Management can now roll down to an entire business through Strategy Management, the layer in which risks are tied directly into policies.
  • The Access Control and Process Control products have been updated so as to achieve integration with a greater number of third-party products. For example, SAP can tie into Identity Management provided by IBM, Sun, or Novell in order to verify if a specific employee is allowed access to a sensitive location or process.
  • The new x-App Query Tool, developed in conjunction with SAP partner Greenlight, allows users to adopt a write-once approach to control checks. For example, a query written to check the presence of a control in an SAP application can be reused to check the same control in an Oracle system.
  • A Global Trade Services application will allow companies to make certain that their cross-border transactions are compliant with trade regulations and environmental regulations.

More news about the upgraded GRC suite will be released next week.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 6, 2008  10:52 AM

SAP online training: From the source

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Did you know that SAP’s online events page is a resource for self-training on SAP? The page is not only a repository of live-event webcasts but also a collection of tips and techniques for SAP consultants, developers, and implementation team members. Everyone from executives looking to build an SAP business case to techies who want to learn about advanced functionality in individual SAP modules can take advantage of hundreds of indexed webcasts, and other supporting materials, to find more detailed information about their needs.

SAP’s online events pages are experiencing a surge in traffic, says SAP VP of Communications Bill Wohl. “Nothing against on-site events, but where we’ve seen the greatest growth is in the online world.” That’s no surprise given the high costs of attending on-site events and live training sessions, which simply aren’t in the budget for many members of the SAP ecosystem. This is particularly true outside Europe and the Americas. Consequently, SAP’s tips and techniques webcasts are attracting a great deal of attention from users in India, with China and Japan also contributing traffic.

Wohl explains that these webcasts, complemented by SAP online forums, are even being used as formal training tools in some contexts. “Consultants and staff people from solutions integrators are using the online environment as a training ground when they bring in new people,” he says. Picture new hires in India, where systems integrators such as Infosys, Wipro, and others run thriving SAP practices, downloading webcasts and hanging out on SAP’s developer forums as part of their professional development.

Accumulating experience with SAP’s online events and developer forums is a no-cost way for developers and consultants to make themselves more attractive to potential clients and employers alike. It’s also a way for executives in smaller and mid-sized businesses, which often lack budgets for conference or training travel, to attain a high-level understanding of SAP (for example, from very specific functionalities such as Bank Relationship Management all the way up to an architectural overview of SAP ERP 6.0) and build a business case for implementation.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


March 5, 2008  11:26 AM

H-1b season is here

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

The most heated and partisan debate in technology is about to begin… again. Yes, we are firmly in H-1B season. On April 1, 2008, the U.S. will begin accepting petitions for temporary foreign worker visas and, if history is any guide, will be overrun by applicants within mere hours. It’s a time of mixed feelings in IT, as American workers are reminded of their job insecurity while foreign IT workers clamor for a chance to monetize their skills in the United States.

As if H-1B season needed even more drama, Microsoft’s Bill Gates is set to go before the House of Representatives next week to make what is becoming a perennial plea for the U.S. to allow in more H-1B workers. Microsoft employs thousands of such workers, so there is plenty of self-interest in play, but Gates will claim — once more — that there is a shortage of IT workers in America, and that raising the H-1B cap (over and above the current regular limit of 65,000) will allow this country to keep the tech lights on.

Last year, we heard anecdotes about American SAP specialists being locked out of work in favor of H-1B counterparts from India. This year, we’ll be keeping a close eye on H-1B developments and how they impact both American and foreign SAP specialists.

A good way to begin this discussion is to look over Bill Gates’ December 2007 article, “America’s Brain Gain.” These are some of the claims Gates made:

  • “Today, the nation’s need for graduates in science and engineering far exceeds the supply.”
  • “America’s immigration policies are increasingly driving away the world’s top talent and consequently forcing U.S. companies to expand overseas. This is having an adverse impact on U.S. competitiveness and on domestic growth in the technology industry.”
  • “Congress can…focus on comprehensive immigration reform, and on redoubling efforts to improve education and expand U.S. output of scientists and engineers, so that Microsoft and other U.S. companies can hire even more Americans.”
  • “Meanwhile, Congressional action is needed now to prevent the current shortage of highly skilled workers from resolving itself – through a job-killing economic slowdown caused by a loss of U.S. competitiveness.”

What do you SAP people think? Is Gates right or wrong? What are your perspectives?

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


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