SAP Watch


December 8, 2006  3:06 PM

What SAP should improve — part 2

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As promised, here's part 2 of "What SAP should improve." Feel free to shoot us an email or comment below with your own experiences. If we get enough good ones, maybe we'll run this feature again.

Jolene Jonas, SAP data architect, Intel (customer)

From a data architect's perspective (via email):

"One example: SAP R/3 has a Customer design and a Vendor design. They require the creation of a new Customer or Vendor for each different address. This results in many Customer and Vendor records for essentially the same company simply because they have different addresses for different purposes (ship to, sold to, pay to, order from….).

In CRM and SRM, they have introduced a design called ‘Business Partner.' In it you create the Customer (in CRM) and the Vendor (in SRM) once and attach many addresses for many purposes. In this way you can manage the Company just once. The new Business Partner design is more flexible, it would be great if SAP redesigned R/3 to use this new design.

One more example:

Customer and Vendor name fields in R/3 are 35 characters long. Business Partner expanded to 40. Reality is business and individual names can extend beyond 100 characters. R/3 and the new Business Suites need longer name fields."

Have a great weekend,

Jon Franke
News Editor

December 7, 2006  4:03 PM

What should SAP improve?

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Vendor events like SAP's analyst Summit often have the feel of an extended, PowerPoint-filled commercial for the host company. This is not a negative reflection on anyone — who can blame a vendor for putting its best face forward when given a captive audience for a couple days?

The keynotes, sessions and customer testimonials at SAP's event definitely accentuated all things positive. And there is no arguing that SAP is doing some interesting things with SOA, and potentially with SaaS. To get a little bit of the other side of the coin, we asked a variety of SAP execs, customers and analysts the purposely open-ended question, "what is one thing you think SAP could improve?"

We'll post a few responses today and a few more tomorrow.

David Bradshaw, CRM practice leader, Ovum (analyst)

On the event itself:

"[SAP could offer] a little reality; show some downside of products and implementations. You can only hear 'this is the greatest thing ever' so many times. I know it's not great marketing, but it would add reality."

Peter Graf, executive vice president, product and technology group, SAP

Totally joking:

"And you seriously expect me to answer that?"

Jim Hagemann Snabe, general manager, industry solutions, SAP

On the user interface:

"I have an idea of an area that has become more important and we are getting our act together — usability simplification. Shai [Agassi] talked about it and we've come a long way in the last few years compared to where we were. We were really good at building software for processes, but we never went the extra mile for end users. With this new abstraction where you actually have the process pieces in the platform, you can abstract the UI and go create new UIs based on the same functionality and that tremendously increases our opportunity.

"It's an area which excites a lot of people, so it's not a difficult area to get excited about as a development organization… But it's certainly an area where still have lots to learn."

Check back tomorrow for a couple more

Jon Franke
News Editor


December 1, 2006  3:06 PM

New xApps expert

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We have a new addition to our panel of site experts. Independent consultant Andre Truong is an SAP veteran with experience from complex implementations across Europe, United States and Asia. He has been working with SAP since 1995 and is currently supporting early adopters within SAP's ecosystem in taking advantage of the Enterprise SOA and SAP's Business Process Platform.

Andre has many valuable skills in his SAP toolkit, but one area stands out: his formidable expertise in SAP composite applications (xApps) and its many uses in the NetWeaver era. Always looking for a good challenge, Andre invites you to send your toughest xApp questions his way today. Also make sure to browse his first batch of answers to user questions.

Matt Danielsson
Editor


November 17, 2006  2:39 PM

New SearchSAP News Editor

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I'm Jon Franke, the new news editor here at SearchSAP.com. Just for a little background, I got my start in technology installing Web Content Management software early in my career. Since then, I have been an analyst covering "Dynamic Content Software" for InfoTrends here in MA.

I'm excited to be covering SAP in more detail and I look forward to hearing from all of you out there. I recently wrote my first news article for the site on the progress of Duet. Please feel free to send press releases, comments, story ideas, and anything else on your mind to me at jfranke@techtarget.com.

Jon Franke
News Editor


November 15, 2006  12:28 PM

ESA debunked

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Here at SearchSAP.com, we just got our hands on the latest service-oriented architecture (SOA) book titled Mastering Enterprise SOA with SAP NetWeaver and mySAP ERP, by Scott Campbell and Vamsi Mohun. This recently published SOA resource details SAP's roadmap for Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) as distinguished by SAP. 

By now, most SAP-run businesses are cautiously meandering their way down the much touted ESA roadmap — it's only been four years — but much apprehension preceeds them. Campbell and Mohun strive to overcome the anxiety for companies by laying to rest myths surfacing around ESA. 

Two ESA myths debunked

1. SOA and ESA share the same concept with ESA having more direction. SOA is an industry term while ESA is SAP's enterprise term for SOA. It comes across ambigious, especially since SAP decided to rename ESA to Enterprise SOA to alleviate confusion, but instead compounded it with yet another term to add to the pot. Both SOA and ESA are being created and recognized across the IT world as the next platform for business process excellence. Basically, both terms can be defined as a full set of business processes tailored to a company based around many applications. The main reason SAP has distinquished their SOA plan is because SAP incorporates SOA with "industry-driven service models" making the package more robust and unique. So, SOA and ESA are similiar — same in concept — but different in practice.

2. Another misconception business' have about ESA is that there is an end to the roadmap and a final product that will be shelved and sold. This is simply not accurate. The whole concept of SOA and ESA is to continue to build and evolve best industry business solutions. As time ushers in improvements and updated technologies, so ESA will adapt and reposition itself accordingly. Independent software vendors (ISVs) will continue to introduce corresponding software and upgrades will continue to be a way of life. The bottom line is, ESA can start now, without the latest upgrade. Some existing R/3 components can support pilot parts of ESA. This is being herald as the best way to — let's say practice — ESA before having to upgrade and commit. If you are already running NetWeaver, even more opportunities exist to trail run with ESA.

So, rest assure that ESA is important and more than just SOA. In fact, it should be practiced today for a future commitment. Put your ESA fears to bed and realize that ESA is just another SOA option.

Look for more from Campbell and Mohun's Mastering Enterprise SOA with SAP NetWeaver and mySAP ERP from SearchSAP.com in the future.

Juli Austin
Assistant Editor


November 13, 2006  3:54 PM

Infor, QAD challenging SAP and Oracle?

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It's easy to get stuck on the ongoing SAP vs. Oracle smackdown thinking it's the only game in town. Sure enough, with Oracle's rapid growth through acquisitions (Siebel, PeopleSoft etc.) the two 800 lb. gorillas tend to hog the ERP stage while smaller fry are merely viewed as bite-sized morsels waiting to be gobbled up. That may not be entirely true, as reported by News editor Mark Brunelli in his recent article SAP, Oracle challenged by smaller ERP vendors

A study by Aberdeen Group reveals that Infor Global Solutions and QAD Inc. may in fact be gaining ground in some sectors of the ERP space, primarily through lower TCO. Infor in particular, with its recent purchases of SSA, Extensity and SU, is set to step up considerably. InfoWorld's China Martens reports that Infor is gunning for becoming a $3B business next year. Nothing to sneeze at for sure.

Meanwhile, Oracle's course-correction regarding its Fusion initiative is beginning to have an impact, as described by SearchSAP expert Josh Greenbaum last month. Does this spell trouble for SAP, or is the German Giant far enough ahead in this race that its ERP crown remains untouchable?

For the next couple years, sure — but what will the situation be like, say, around 2010? Please take a moment to reply to this post or send us an email with your take on what the future will hold for SAP. One random reader will receive a neat book bundle:

  • Designing Composite Applications
  • SAP BW Reporting and Analysis
  • mySAP CRM Interaction Center

Regards,
Matt Danielsson
Editor


October 30, 2006  2:34 PM

CRM All-In-One Guide

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When customer relationship management (CRM) was first introduced over five years ago, it generated a lot of hype but didn't live up to expectations. This was due mostly to lack of proper integration, end-user training and adoption and functionality. Today, that technology has evolved. CRM products and ROI results have proven CRM to be a worthy investment that will likely see considerable growth over the next five years.

This CRM guide has been designed to meet all your CRM needs. If your business is looking for a CRM solution, this guide offers the latest CRM news and products as well as business cases by CRM experts. Here are examples of more information for the CRM shopper.

For the CRM professional, this guide provides SAP CRM news, valuable SAP CRM tips and best practices as well as expert advice about your job as a CRM user.

SearchSAP.com has provided this resource titled CRM All-In-One Guide as a place where all professionals can learn how to get the most value out of any CRM solution. Maximize your company's ROI and use your CRM application to its ultimate potential here

Juli Austin
Assistant Editor


October 23, 2006  2:26 PM

SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics

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You have probably noticed that Microsoft is getting more assertive about its Dynamics line of products. Massive advertising, press releases, increased presence at events … It's pretty obvious the 'softies are no longer content to play second fiddle to SAP, merely picking up the small fry surrounding a massive SAP core.

What's in store for the future, when Microsoft pulls the AX, NAV, GP etc. components into a single Dynamics package in 2008? Is the Redmond giant a threat to SAP? Or will SAP continue to make progress based on technical excellence and sheer robustness?

Veteran SAP guru Axel Angeli says the battle is largly one of fundamental principles: SAP is pushing a complete and fully integrated ERP package. The solution should cover all aspects of the business without the need to ever have a third party solution. Microsoft, on the other hand, seeks its success through supporting disparate system installations. In order to make this vision transparent to the clients, Angeli says, Microsoft introduced the metaphor of "Hub and Spoke" technology. It pictures a central ERP residing as the hub of a wheel whilst still being connected to satellite systems through the spokes. Practically it means that one installs a central ERP system and more local installations are installed where they are needed. Both the hub and the satellites can be any ERP solution as long as they are able to exchange messages with each other.

For now, SAP's approach seems to be the winner, according to Angeli. But Joe Gulino, ERP Practice Director, Green Beacon Solutions, has a different take on the matter. He buys into the "working the way your people work" mantra, which clearly favors Microsoft as the dominant midmarket ERP player in the years ahead. 

Each expert make the case for their respective position in our new Face-off: SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics . Make sure to send in your comments for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate!

Matt Danielsson
Editor


October 18, 2006  2:23 PM

New SAP BW Guide: Open Hub Service

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SearchSAP.com introduces our first Crash Course: SAP BW Guide: Open Hub Service. This handy instructional tool will guide you through step-by-step the process for creating, activating and executing an InfoSpoke, which is the central object for exporting data in the BW Open Hub.

This guide is designed to be an easy to navigate set of technical instructions for distributing data from the SAP BW system into external data marts, analytical applications, and other applications. Through the Open Hub service, SAP BW becomes the hub of an enterprise data warehouse and by using this mechanism ultimately your enterprise will become aligned and processes will run more efficiently and more affordably. Opportunities are discovered, and innovations are accelerated and all this contributes to the sustainable and profitable growth of your company.

Check out the SAP BW Guide: Open Hub Service and email me to let me know what you think about our new crash course series and what you want a lesson in.

Juli Austin
Assistant Editor


October 16, 2006  1:44 AM

New SAP Job roles: Disruptive innovators

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This is the fourth an final part in our series about the new SAP job roles outlined by SAP executive Shai Agassi in his TechEd 2006 keynote speech. What is a disruptive innovator? What are the job prospects? And how do you establish yourself as one? Get the scoop here!

Disruptive Innovators
As an SAP professional, the obvious first question is: how do you differentiate the disruptive innovators from the composers?

Most composers will own specific processes, like procurement, HR, manufacturing or other, clearly defined areas of responsibility. Their goal is to optimize their process to near-perfection, maintain it to meet changing needs and so on.

The disruptive innovator, on the other hand, needs a much more strategic mindset. This person is something of a maverick, looking across the entire company for areas with opportunities for disruptive innovation. It can be a new product, a new business process, or whatever it takes to move the company to the next level.

"The disruptive innovator has to be a hunter," Inbar said. "While consolidators have the luxury of tending to their niche of expertise, the disruptive innovator must be constantly on the move, looking for the next big thing."

This role is perhaps the hardest to define of the four; there's really no specific skillset to talk about beyond the fact that this person must have outstanding IT and business knowledge, and proven ability to think outside the box.

"Keep in mind that this is how SAP wants the world to be," Reed said. "In reality, some corporate cultures will embrace this kind of role more readily than others. Some cultures don't reward or even penalize people who step out of the box, so make sure you know your culture before you position yourself as a disruptive innovator."

Having said that, Reed thinks SAP is trying to convey the message that they're empowering users to do more with the SAP building blocks than ever before. It is an ongoing process and SAP isn't quite there to deliver everything they're talking about quite yet, but they're getting there, he said.

"The other roles seem to be more hands-on, but I see the disruptive innovator as a manager or Team Lead," Reed said. "You need a broader view as well as organizational leverage, ie. decent corporate status, in order to make things happen."

A Project Manager with good overall knowledge of how the technology supports the business side would make a good candidate. But all things considered, it doesn't really matter whether that person came from a technical or functional career path prior to shouldering this new role; all that really matters is the current understanding of both sides of the fence, Reed said.

This is the last part in our next-generation SAP jobs series. If you haven't done so already, make sure to check out the articles about composers, repository keepers and consolidators

Matt Danielsson
Editor


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