SAP is shifting away from its roots as an enterprise resource planning company in a bid to capture more users, it said this week at its annual Sapphire user conference in Los Angeles.
"We don't just want to do the back office applications. We want to be in the front office space as well," said SAP co-founder and co-chairman Hasso Plattner.
More than 15,000 customers, partners, media and analysts at the tenth annual Sapphire conference heard SAP executives detail a series of new and proposed products that would take the German software giant into new strategic areas, including salesforce automation, customer relationship management, supply chain management and business intelligence.
Plattner also announced a major project, EnjoySAP, to redesign the flagship ERP product, R/3, to make it easier for customers to use (see separate story).
And he unveiled a series of business intelligence iniatives built around existing and proposed technologies. Central to these is SAP's Business Information Warehouse, which has now gone on general availability after being tested at more than 80 customer sites.
The BIW is an R/3 based data warehouse for decision support, which compiles data for analytical processing from R/3 and non-R/3 data sources, including external information such as industry performance benchmarks.
SAP executives said the company will deliver a number of analytical applications to sit on top of the BIW, some of which already exist. SAP Strategic Enterprise Management is a suite of applications for cost management processses.
SAP is trying to widen its user base by playing in more vertical markets, and adding functionality to increase the numbers of users in existing user companies.
Plattner announced 17 solutions maps for specific industry sectors, including banking, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare and utilities. Customers will be provided with dedicated product roadmaps, detailing exactly what SAP will develop, he said, although these are currently restricted to a few hundred of its 17,000 customer base, which had signed non-disclosure agreements.
Although he denied a change of focus away from R/3, Plattner admitted "we aren't working on R/4". He talked about a series of initiatives for standalone, customer-centric applications for sales, marketing and services, which all come under the banner heading of SAP Focus, intended to be a comprehensive customer relationship management solution.
By the end of this year, the company will deliver a salesforce automation component, email and Internet based direct marketing, telesales, and a call centre system. Next year it will deliver a field service automation application.
"The name of the game is footprint, footprint, footprint," said Miller. SAP was trying to broaden its user base, and win more users in existing sites, he said.
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