SAP is moving away from its roots as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) company in a bid to capture more users, it said this week at its annual Sapphire user conference in Los Angeles.
The company's executives detailed a series of new and proposed products that would take the German software giant into new strategic areas, including salesforce automation, customer relationship management and business intelligence.
SAP co-founder and co-chairman Hasso Plattner also announced a major project, EnjoySAP, to redesign the flagship ERP product, R/3, to make it easier for customers to use. EnjoySAP will take feedback from existing users, software developers and professional design experts to make R/3 easier to use, with more emphasis on technologies such as point and click, touchscreens and more intuitive interfaces. Plattner promised that the 1999 release of R/3 will incorporate the findings of EnjoySAP, and that SAP executives and developers will visit users at more than 100 customer sites over the next few months.
He also unveiled a series of business intelligence initiatives 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.
Plattner announced 17 solutions maps for specific industry sectors, including banking, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare and utilities. 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.
The company also announced the acquisition of call centre technology from AMC Development, which will be added to its SAP Focus customer relationship management initiative. AMC, which specialises in computer-telephony integration, originally developed the technology to work with SAP's R/3 suite of enterprise resource planning applications.
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