SAP has unveiled the final building block of its NetWeaver integration software for standardising data across multiple applications.
NetWeaver ties together SAP's portal, collaboration and business intelligence software run on its web application server.
The software suite is intended to allow businesses to integrate both SAP and non-SAP applications. The final component of the software is Master Data Management (MDM), which tackles integration at the data level.
Typically, businesses keep different levels of details of products, customers and employees within multiple applications. MDM creates a common, synchronised view of this data.
MDM is currently available to a limited number of companies, and is expected to be generally available by January 2004.
"We've seen manufacturers that have 17 different codes for a single type of screw that they use," said Shai Agassi, member of SAP's executive board.
"They've been paying between 50 cents and $2.50 for these screws, and they're using a lot of them. Getting a single view of that data can generate a lot of savings."
But MDM is only likely to take off if users do not have to spend significant time analysing data models, said Neil Ward-Dutton, topic director at analyst firm Ovum.
"Typically, when you buy packaged applications you don't spend a great deal of time analysing the data models. But if you're going to make changes to the models you need to be sure that this won't stop your applications from working," he said.
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