SAP realigns global R&D

German enterprise software vendor SAP AG has realigned its global research and development activities in a move to meet customers’ needs for industry-specific systems more quickly and cost-efficiently, the company said Monday in a statement.

SAP has established three new development organizations along with an “application platform and architecture group,” which will develop standard technologies to be shared across the other three divisions. The changes are effective immediately, the company said.

“The aim is to provide a member of the executive board as a single point of contact for CIOs (chief information officers) requiring support with industry-specific solutions,” company spokesman Markus Berner said. “The new structure is designed to deliver products and support faster and more efficiently.”

The realignment of the R&D unit follows similar changes in other global operations including consulting, human resources and marketing, as well as service and support.

The new development organizations, or Business Solution Groups (BDGs) as SAP is calling them, are:

– The Manufacturing Industries group, led by SAP Executive Claus Heinrich, includes the development teams for the manufacturing and distribution industries and those responsible for SCM (supply chain management) and product lifecycle management software.

– The Services Industries group, led by Extended Board member Peter Kirschbauer, includes the development teams for the services industries, customer relationship management (CRM) and global customer development services organization.

– The Financial and Public Services group, led by Chief Executive Officer Henning Kagermann, includes the development teams for the financial, insurance and public services industries as well as those for human capital management, financials and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Although the groups are assigned core competences – the Manufacturing Industries group, for example, is responsible for SCM – they will collaborate with companies outside of their focus area to develop industry-specific systems, according to Berner. “A manufacturing company also has a need for CRM software, so the Services Industries BSG will work with that company and its assigned BSG to develop that product and provide support for it,” he said.

While the groups are primarily focused on developing industry-tailored software systems, the newly created Application Platform & Architecture (AP&A) group, led by SAP Executive Board Member Peter Zencke, is responsible for developing reusable core business, process and user interface components.

“If we use an analogy with the automobile industry, the AP&A group delivers standard components such as engines and gearboxes, while the BSGs are responsible for delivering model-specific hoods, fenders, dashboards and seats,” Berner said.

The AP&A group will work closely with the Technology Platform unit, which was launched in February. SAP Executive Board Member Shai Agassi is in charge of this unit, formerly known as the Technology Development group, which was headed by SAP Supervisory Board Chairman Hasso Plattner.

Plattner handed over responsibility for technology development to Agassi in February, a move to relieve the software maker’s cofounder from day-to-day activities.

Agassi came to SAP after the software vendor acquired his company Top Tier Software Inc. in 2001. He was CEO, president and chief technology officer of Top Tier, which supplies technology for the newly-rebranded mySAP Business Suite application.

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