SAP homes in on Canadian market

SAP AG is gearing up to make further inroads into a Canadian market poised to become the “growth engine” of North America, according to SAP America CEO Bill McDermott at its inaugural Canadian Business Forum earlier this month.

In front of an estimated 600 SAP customers and partners, McDermott also used the downtown Toronto event as an opportunity to publicly introduce former SAP Canada Inc. chief financial officer Rosalind Lehman as its new acting president.

According to McDermott, the industry is experiencing a shakedown of sorts – he noted that events such as the recent PeopleSoft acquisition of J.D. Edwards have made a refresh necessary to capitalize on the situation. The changes are evidence of the company’s renewed focus on the Canadian market, McDermott said.

The notion that SAP implementations are extensive and cater only to large, General Motors-type enterprises is still prevalent. This ignores the gains made in the Canadian small- to medium- sized enterprise (SME) space, McDermott offered, along with the under six-month implementation times SAP customers are reporting. He pointed to figures that claim 58 per cent of SAP customers are actually SME organizations.

SAP customer John Fischer fits that mould. As president of Mold Master Inc. based in Georgetown, Ont., Fischer noted that the plastic injection-moulding provider is using the SAP platform to facilitate design automation for product orders. Once orders come via Mold Master’s Web portal, they are sent directly to the plant floor, cutting inventory costs substantially. By the end of 2003, Fischer expects that approximately 50 per cent of its product orders will be automated. Future projects include improved CRM and wireless access, Fischer noted.

According to SAP customer Steve Okun, director of information technology and business systems for Indigo Books & Music Inc., enterprises would be best served to shift away from best-of-breed type ERP applications. “If you are not sure…keep looking,” Okun said of choosing a vendor.

The Toronto-based book retailer – with more than 250 stores and a growing online division – currently uses the mySAP Retail platform for inventory and category management, supply chain management, and customer relationship management (CRM) across Indigo’s operations. Indigo has also deployed a mySAP financials solution for integration of financial information, which allows for easier processing of data and improves short-term and long-term business performance via closed-loop management processes, he added.

The issue at hand was how to reduce costs and improve operational visibility. The platform has served to improve on-shelf availability of books and merchandise, reduce unsold inventory, and optimize the supply chain, Okun said. This includes data integration of store point-of-sale, sales orders and shipments to make more accurate forecasts.

The goal is to consolidate and upgrade all systems onto a single platform, Okun added.

SAP readies data management app

SAP AG earlier this month unveiled software aimed at helping companies manage data in heterogeneous IT environments.

Master Data Management (MDM) is designed to synchronize data across diverse applications, reconciling customer, product or vendor information that’s stored in multiple systems inside and outside an enterprise.

MDM is part of SAP’s NetWeaver integration platform. It incorporates technology garnered from SAP’s integration infrastructure, business intelligence, knowledge management and portal software.

– IDG News Service