SAP Watch

Aug 10 2006   3:47PM GMT

SAP simplified, Dynamics looming


Over the years, we've taken our fair share of jabs at SAP for being overly complex, bogged down with acronyms and seemingly always being a few steps ahead and out of sync with many customers. Sure enough, SAP has always been somewhat intimidating, and we did some head-scratching over how SAP was going to accomplish it's very ambitious small- and midmarket push that was announced earlier this year. How are you going to convince a small mail order firm or local coffee shop chain that SAP will make life better than, say a Microsoft Dynamics solution?

Well, it seems like SAP is starting to get it. Yesterday, a Business Week story reported on the simplification of Business One, where both implementation and management have been streamlined enough that we now seem to be hitting that magic tipping point where the practical benefits of SAP outweighs the hassle. Costs are being pushed down too — less than $10,000 for a complete Business One installation is not out of reach for a small company once you factor in the productivity gains and overhead savings. Business One's big brother, All-in-One, is also making rapid strides.

So SAP is making headway on its aggressive downstream push. That's fine and dandy, but the obvious question is, what's going to happen with the Microsoft relationship? In the top end of the market, SAP and Microsoft are quite chummy. Duet is gaining a lot attention. Rightfully so, if you ask me, since it's a cool technology and it seems like a strategically correct path at least for SAP. When asked whether there are more joint SAP-Microsoft products on the horizon, Shai Agassi wouldn't commit to anything but clearly left the door open: "We'll see how Duet plays out — if it's successful, we may look into other areas." That sounds pretty promising to me.

For the small- and midsize market, things get more interesting. Joshua Greenbaum wrote about this in a recent column, pointing to the cautious dance the two are currently engaged in. What's going to happen when Dynamics GP, AX, NAV and so forth get rolled into one single product in 2008? Will Microsoft continue to sit idly by watching SAP bag the fattest account? Doesn't seem like the 'softie style. We're already seeing some headlines pop up hinting of things to come. Microsoft was careful to use diplomatic wording when it ditched SAP in favor of Dynamics for it's Home and Entertainment division, but they couldn't resist plugging the" two-to-four times cheaper" angle in their announcement. Shortly thereafter, military supplier BlackHawk chose Dynamics over SAP because of simplicity and ease of integration. When the new version of Dynamics AX was released in June this year, cost and ease of use came up once again.

There's potential for great things, and there's potential for war. Only time will tell how this is going to play out, but there's potential upside for SAP and Microsoft users alike. In the mean time, we're going to look into the more practical aspects of just how Dynamics stack up against SAP's All-in-One.

In October this year, we will have two experts argue the case for All-in-One vs. Dynamics in a side-by-side face-off column. Those of you who followed the SAP vs. Oracle face-off between Josh Greenbaum and Faun deHenry earlier this year will recognize the format; we aim to move beyond marketing dogma and take a hard look at the practical, real-life pros and cons of either solution so that users can make the best choice for their companies. We have veteran expert Axel Angeli spearheading the All-in-One side of the argument, so expect the gloves to be off. Stay tuned!

Matt Danielsson

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