SAP announces new initiatives and enhancements

At a time when three of its biggest competitors – PeopleSoft Inc., Oracle Corp., and J.D. Edwards & Co. – are going through a period of confusion and uncertainty, SAP AG is keeping itself in the headlines by releasing a myriad of new products and enhancements.

The Walldorf, Germany-based software maker announced on Wednesday its launch of the SAP Customer Services Network, a solution that, according to the company, will offer easy access to the selection of SAP services.

According to SAP, the new Customer Services Network provides offerings including: services for increasing the quality in upgrades and risk management; global customer competence centre programs; and Benefit Mapping.

SAP Customer Services Network was designed to help customers strategically plan for, implement, operate and continually improve solutions to maximize their return on investment (ROI), achieve lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and realize strategic business goals, said the company.

The global customer competence centre program is in place to help customers develop the necessary in-house skills and resources to support their SAP environments. Within this program, certification and recertification will be made available by SAP in areas including support desk, contract administration and information management.

According to the company, SAP Benefit Mapping will help demonstrate the benefits of SAP business solutions to its customers by helping organizations identify and understand priorities, cost savings and tangible business results.

Also included as a part of the initiative is SAP Consulting – formerly SAP Global Professional Services – an integration of all its local and regional consulting units into a globally operated organization serving all its customers.

Also on Wednesday, SAP announced industry-specific enhancements for SAP NetWeaver integration and application platform.

According to SAP, these changes were made to help organizations in diverse vertical industries lower their TCO while accelerating cross-enterprise business processes.

Included in the enhancements made to NetWeaver are add-on packages comprised of pre-configured, industry-specific business content and immediate support for XML-based data exchange standards of diverse industries.

According to the company, SAP is playing an active role in standards developments to support interoperability between business applications.

SAP will begin to provide support for high-tech and chemical industries starting with native support for RosettaNet – an XML-based standard for high-tech companies – and Chem eStandards – a standard developed to accelerate collaborative processes in areas such as logistics, order management and invoicing – and pre-configured mapping for the most common electronic data interchange (EDI) standards.

On top of the slew of new initiatives, SAP is also starting a new marketing campaign to lure customers away from its rival companies amid uncertainty related to Oracle’s hostile bid for PeopleSoft.

If Oracle succeeds in its bid to acquire PeopleSoft, analysts warn that users could face a rough transition, a prospect that could prompt many customers to switch vendors.

On Thursday, SAP will launch a new advertising campaign targeting customers not only of PeopleSoft but also of J.D. Edwards & Co., which PeopleSoft agreed to acquire last week. “The campaign will carry the message that SAP can offer certainty in these uncertain times,” said Laurie Doyle Kelly, a spokesperson for SAP in Walldorf, Germany. “We want to help enterprises understand that we are a solid alternative.”

SAP plans to invite key customers of both companies to attend its Sapphire product show and conference in Orlando, Fla. next week.

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-With files from IDG News Service