When SAP introduces its SAP Travel OnDemand solution, you might be tempted to think that it must be an old, warmed-over presentation. Yet the topic is as current as ever, and has been given a fresh coat of paint: Bernhard Wallner, Head of Enterprise Architecture at SAP, calls it “back integration of transactional data from the cloud to on-premise,” and says the cloud alone isn’t enough. The back end still does the work. After all, expenses can only be disbursed if the on-site financials system is integrated. And without financials integration, the SAP Sales OnDemand solution would not be able to generate the thousands of invoices that are quickly incurred at a large company. This commitment to “on-demand and on-premise” will be just one of the topics on the agenda at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid.
We spoke with Bernhard Wallner and Sven Denecken, cloud strategist at SAP, to learn what new solutions are coming to SAP in the areas of HANA, cloud, and mobile.
With SAP CRM powered by SAP HANA, SAP makes sure that three salespeople are not on the road with three different datasets for one and the same customer. Precise reporting “at my time, at my place” instead of “nervous” reporting ensures that even the largest sales teams at major corporations always have the latest data, because it is replicated continuously, in real time, on the SAP HANA platform. The force behind this is, obviously, SAP HANA, SAP’s in-memory technology. SAP CRM powered by SAP HANA, part of the SAP 360 Customer solution portfolio, is scheduled to be generally available by Q2 of 2013 at the latest.
The centralized mobile platform hasn’t been announced yet, nor will a “grand solution” be presented at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012. Nevertheless: many small innovations will enrich the mobile sector. Custom apps, for example. “Many apps are customer-specific, which means it makes no sense to place them in the Apple Store”, explains SAP manager Wallner. In response, SAP will make it possible for companies to open their own stores to supply in-house corporate apps to their employees. The complete lifecycle – from idea to creation, staging in the store, and handling of the security components – is in the hands of the company IT department. Aside from the fact that app use is now entirely up to the customer, SAP strategist Wallner sees three primary benefits from using business apps:
1. The information is available wherever it is needed
2. Applications can be combined with analysis tools on the go, enabling snap evaluations
3. Approval processes can escape the printed page and be handled electronically to a large degree.
Customer relationships, human resources, financials, and suppliers: According to cloud strategist Sven Denecken, these are the key topics that SAP will be focusing on in the cloud. SAP will introduce two new cloud solutions at SAPPHIRE NOW: firstly, SAP Finance OnDemand helps controllers by delivering data from the various divisions through the cloud. In this approach, the cloud solution accesses existing on-premise systems and extracts the relevant data for the process. The second solution, SAP Finance OnDemand for area managers and team leaders, takes a similar direction, offering a preconfigured solution for checking KPIs (key performance indicators) to verify the performance of the individual company areas. The roadmap for integrating Ariba, the recently acquired business network specialist, has not yet been finalized. But one thing is already clear: Companies that use the SAP Business ByDesign SME software will be given a rapid-deployment solution to access the “business Facebook” and leverage the benefits of the network. SAP expert Denecken promises interfaces even for companies that do not use SAP, adding: “The complexity will stay with the provider, not the user,” emphasizing the device independence of the solutions.
One desire by Head of Enterprise Architecture Wallner is not quite there yet: The theoretical physicist has two prototypes for SAP NetWeaver Cloud in his quiver. Wallner is convinced that the SAP NetWeaver technology platform can revolutionize suggestion systems by creating the corresponding mobile application in NetWeaver and operating it as software-as-a-service. One percent of the proven benefit could be the license model, suggests Wallner, who sees true added value in these cloud applications: The NetWeaver community is huge, with more than a million users, server scaling isn’t an issue, and no on-site servers are needed. But if you hope to see the application at SAPPHIRE NOW, you’ll have to wait. “Two prototypes are already running,” Wallner confirms – but not in Madrid.