AMR Research has slammed SAP's mySAP.com portal strategy, claiming that as well as being too late, its pricing policy is facing a backlash.
The enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications vendor has two main offerings in the portal space - MySAP.com Marketplaces, which it describes as an ecommerce hub for business to business users, and mySAP.com Workplace, which provides users with a portal to access corporate information and services.
Marketplaces is seen as SAP's attempt to exploit the ecommerce bonanza as it tries to position itself away from its roots in business process management and control.
But AMR's SAP advisory unit claims that specific problems cause it to doubt the firm's ability to deliver acceptable products to the market, with more agile competition being the most immediate threat.
Dave Boulanger, AMR's SAP advisory research director, said: "It's going in the right direction, but this is like looking at a big, grey battleship trying to turn in a storm."
However, SAP is a founding member of the RosettaNet consortium, which is developing ecommerce standards for use in the IT and electronic components supply chain. It is making extensive use of XML to try and make messaging easier between its own and third party applications.
Nigel Ford, SAP UK's ecommerce product marketing manager, confirmed that: "Delivery of version 2 of the Business-to-Business Procurement (BBP) framework is slated for delivery in the second quarter, at latest in the third quarter timeframe."
BBP is currently closely coupled with the R/3 applications suite so that customers have to be existing R/3 users. But the arrival of version 2 of BBP will mean that, by between June and September of this year, customers will be able to buy modules such as materials management and sales and distribution separately from R/3.
Even so, Boulanger remains sceptical: "R/3 is so pervasive, you can't really do, say, a purchase ledger on its own, which a new dotcom might want."
But MySAP.com Marketplace also poses some pricing issues for SAP. According to Boulanger, longstanding SAP customers are deeply unhappy because they need to re-license SAP's software. Many are interpreting this as an attempt by the vendor to extract a lot more money from them for little functional improvement.
"At least one customer, which has already made a nine figure investment, has taken a long look at the new contract and been deeply unimpressed," he claimed.
But when asked if this was an isolated complaint, Boulanger said: "There's a team of lawyers going through these new contracts and they're all looking about the same."
SAP's Ford said, however: "We're looking at a variety of options, including an outright licence and some per transaction fee models."
But customers are currently wrestling with mySAP.com Workplace, which was the first offering to introduce the new pricing model. Boulanger believes current resentments may prevent SAP from making significant headway in selling other products.
"If you already feel as though you've been had, and are then presented with so-so new software, are you going to pay or are you going to go for better functionality?" he questioned.
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