Germany-based SAP AG is tackling business processes in a novel way with the newest version of its Business Suite, which embeds analytics acquired from Business Objects SA and introduces industry-specific “value scenarios”.
Version 7.0 of SAP Business Suite, a library of business processes, adds industry best practices through more than 30 modular value scenarios — like Superior Customer Value, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) — designed to cross traditional organizational boundaries.
These “pre-defined end-to-end business processes” are intended to be implemented in small steps by organizations as they need it, said Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP executive board member.
The value scenarios basically illustrate inter-relationships between SAP product capabilities using graphical guides and business terms, not feature and function lists. The customer can also see the associated systems impacted, and ultimately, the specific SAP modules that would need to be activated.
Value scenarios like Superior Customer Value may sound like customer relationship management, but it’s more than that, said Hagemann. Similarly, Integrated Product Design, another value scenario, focuses on more than just product time to market, he continued. “What happens if quality is bad… if the supply chain is not ready? Then you lose the opportunity even if you have a fantastic time to market.” SAP has challenged the idea of “time to market” and prefers instead to call it “time to profit” and has designed the process for quality, scalability and the ability to read the market so the design can be adjusted, he explained.
The biggest challenge in current economic times, said Hagemann, is organizations have no visibility into the future and no historic facts to rely on.
But while companies are taking a hard look at spending and reviewing projects, “that does not mean… that companies do not spend, they just spend very smartly and very wisely,” said Léo Apotheker, co-CEO of SAP AG.
There is a need, said Apotheker, “to provide better and faster insight, a higher level of efficiency, a need to introduce a whole new degree of flexibility in the way we do business.”
Version 7.0, which Apotheker called a “true milestone in the history of SAP” is also designed to help organizations reduce cost by easing upgrades through enhancement packs that deliver new functionality in a synchronized release schedule for all SAP applications. This release offers more than 150 functional additions.
During a demo of version 7.0, SAP showed how insight could be reaped both internally by collaborating between departments, and externally from social networks like Twitter and a “sentiment engine” to evaluate comments made in the market.
Ray Wang, vice-president with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said customers will find the value scenarios “compelling as they align with the key business drivers users face.” But as with all best practices, Wang said “SAP will need to make it easy for customers to modify those scenarios, reduce the overall cost of owning SAP, and provide more frequent levels of innovation.”