The Interplay of Partners and Processes

Feature Article | May 21, 2008 by Stephan Magura

SAPPHIRE 2008 Orlando Day One First hand impressions from the first day of SAPPHIRE 2008 Orlando, including a very personal interview with Co-CEO Henning Kagermann.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, day two of SAPPHIRE 2008 in Orlando, Florida, Henning Kagermann, co-CEO of SAP, stepped onstage to a hearty round of applause. He wasted no time in getting down to business. Addressing the dynamic challenges facing business in a globalized economy today, Henning said, “You have to play together as a collaborative team. You have to keep many balls in the air: profitability, growth, and risk; and if your IT is not up to the task, you can easily drop the ball. We don’t want you to drop the ball.”

As industry specialization takes over the business world, it forces organizations to deal with blurred industry boundaries, noted Kagermann. That leaves users with more pieces of the information puzzle to collect, flip over, and assemble. In response to this growing trend, Kagermann believes that business model innovation has become extremely important, even more important than product innovation.

For 2008 and beyond, Kagermann outlined SAP’s focus, starting with enhancement packages, which he stated were “unique to the industry,” and are scheduled for all SAP products. Continuous innovation was also highlighted, as Kagermann promised to assist users through the use of repackaged solutions that respond to organizations’ value scenarios.

And finally, he discussed making data “easy to consume” – easy for other networks as service-enablement and business networks, and easy for users thanks to the new “signature design” user interface, embedded analytics, and search functionality.

Making data transfer easy

Ian Kimbell, head of business process validation, showcased some of these features while joining Kagermann on stage for a demo of the SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application. “Because everything is service-based and because it’s two-way communication, it’s very easy to pump information into the Xcelsius dashboard and to take it back into the CRM system,” said Kimbell, as he dragged and dropped data into the snappy new dashboard.

Kimbell continued his presentation by demonstrating how a call from his Blackberry can automatically log details into SAP CRM − a hands-on example of the RIM/SAP partnership announced last week.

The business of business networks

SAPPHIRE 2008 attendees passed through the Orange County Convention Center to listen to co-CEO Léo Apotheker’s keynote, in which he stressed the indispensability of partnership in the context of business networks.

Apotheker provided a quick snapshot of the market drivers in today’s business networks –including connectivity to the Internet, the power the consumer now wields in the decision making process, the ability to produce products at a dizzying pace, sourcing opportunities that move factories and people, and the reality of our economic times. He then declared, “The world is becoming even flatter, spins faster, and is becoming more volatile by the day.” Apotheker stated that the answers to these challenges are business networks – networks that allow businesses to accomplish jointly what would prove too challenging and costly individually.

“If we believe the capabilities of a network are a source of competitive advantage, then the sustained success of the participants in the network depends on the ability of the network to leverage these joint capabilities,” Apotheker said. “In other words, the success of each participant in the network depends on the participant’s ability and capability to collaborate.”

Business network benefits Procter & Gamble

Apotheker then invited Filippo Passerini, CIO and president of global business services at Procter & Gamble (P&G), to the stage. Passerini presented a crystal-clear example of how P&G has created a virtually untouchable brand over its 170-year reign, due in part to the power of business networks. An 80-foot high PowerPoint slide supported Passerini’s declaration that the power and efficiencies provided by SAP have saved P&G more than US$600 million since 1984.

The roar of the crowd

The roar of a Harley-Davidson Fatboy FLST had heads spinning as Jim Haney, CIO of Harley-Davidson, rode onstage to outline how the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer utilizes the power of business networks to provide more customer intimacy and drive long-term customer relationships.

“Last year we implemented SAP CRM. The goals were to give [the dealership sales force] better access to customer information and to streamline the process of taking someone from dreaming about the motorcycle to actually owning one of these bad boys and riding it on the road,” Haney said, pointing to the sparkling grey hog at his side.

The entry gate for all sizes

SAP Business Suite applications and the SAP NetWeaver technology platform provide users with “an entry ticket to the network game,” Apotheker said. SAP Business Suite is a strategic grouping of applications designed to extract the maximum value from internal data. With the addition of business process management capabilities to the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, business process experts can design, model, and immediately execute new or adapted business processes without having to develop code.

“Companies of all sizes, including small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), need to have the ability to execute business processes in a business network,” Apotheker said, with the Harley-Davidson still at his side. He continued, “We offer flexible solutions for both large enterprises and SMEs.”

Coca-Cola improved picking

As a proof point, a video presentation demonstrated how Coca-Cola Enterprises transformed the operations of its warehouses in the United States with the help of partners SAP, Cisco, and Datria. Coca-Cola Enterprises created an automated picking process utilizing the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and data recognition technologies. This improvement increased the beverage bottler and distributor’s picking accuracy across 1.6 million stops a day, from 75 to 99.8 percent.

Shortly after a forklift delivered two Coke Zeros to the stage, Apotheker helped customers get more acquainted with SAP Enterprise Support services, a new, more comprehensive service offering, introduced in January 2008. “With SAP Enterprise Support, we provide a whole new level of support for you, adapted to this new day and age,” he said.

1+1 = 1

What happens when you combine SAP, the leader in enterprise applications, and Business Objects, the leader in business intelligence? According to Business Objects CEO John Schwarz, you get the greatest combination of execution and strategy available. “1+1=1 is strange math. But the reality of market segmentation and market share is that, when you bring together market leaders, you get the number one position,” stated Schwarz.

“My job now in this next hour is to help you understand how Business Objects really fits into the SAP family, and more important, help you understand how, together as one company, we help you go beyond business boundaries,” he said. “We are the only company in the market that can solve strategy automation and execution automation, and deliver the link between the two,” he added.

According to Schwarz, the challenge of every organization is the disconnection between making decisions and executing. This barrier isn’t necessarily a company’s inability to manage its business, but the fact that execution tends to focus on the day-to-day problems. But if the execution isn’t reflective of strategy, something has to change. Business Objects’ mission is to address this barrier.

Business Intelligence at Disney

As part of the SAP family, the true advantage is in closed-loop business performance optimization – the opportunity to close the loop in a seamless and aggressive way, built on trusted data. “You never lose the link between planning and reality,” Schwarz asserted.

Schwarz borrowed an example of Florida’s largest employer. Disney used Business Objects software to raise the profitability of its Paris park to that of Disney World, only a few miles from the stage on which he stood. “In fact, Schwarz continued, “customer satisfaction is 10 points higher in Paris than at any other park. Linking strategy to execution is simply everywhere.”

Through a series of demonstrations, Schwarz illustrated how Business Objects allows companies to look at the data it collects in a different way to gain a more thorough understanding of its business. It can help flag areas of concern that would go unnoticed in many companies because the data isn’t analyzed in a comprehensive or timely manner.

The Business Objects’ promise

According to Schwarz, Business Objects can truly transform the way a company works. “Our promise in this brave world we have joined with SAP is to do nothing less than transform the way the world works by connecting people to information, by connecting business to its people and information,” confirmed Schwarz. “It is our bold promise that we live, breathe, and act on that promise every day – now in cooperation with our parent SAP. This transformation has helped to save lives, has made people happier in parks, has made us healthier, and will help your businesses run better.”

Hasso Plattner elucidates the “New Idea”

Hasso Plattner preached innovation and integration. “Integration is the biggest asset we have,” the chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board said. “And to understand integration you have to understand the business processes end-to-end. To enable integration means providing the technology to do this,” he continued.

At Tuesday’s demo of Business Objects Polestar software − Business Objects’ integrated interface for SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI) − he saw for the first time a real-time system in action, one that has been enabled by the use of faster memory, more efficient hardware, and integrated software powered by innovative intellect.

The backbone of today’s real-time system resides in the details of “The New Idea” concept at SAP, which Plattner outlined and defined. The details include a harmonized user interface, real-time analytics, events and triggers, in-memory databases, cloud computing, model-based configuration, modular deployment, enterprise service-oriented architecture, closed computing, community, standards, new markets, and no code exposed.

The future without a hard drive

Plattner referenced his appearance at SAPPHIRE 2007, where he proved the concept of the SAP in-memory solution. For 2008, the bar has been raised with SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects, which harnesses the power of SAP’s in-memory database technology. By utilizing in-memory databases, enterprise performance is increased because the data is stored in memory instead of on a disk.

Plattner acknowledged that disk space is much cheaper than memory, but noted that soon all devices would be in memory. “They [Apple] started with a little disk in it [iPod]. The Nano has no disk in it anymore. [In] the future, all devices won’t have a disk anymore,” Plattner explained.

“If we can handle the transaction and analytics at light speed on one system and can take that data into other systems and use external data . . . that’s a huge step forward,” he said. An example of this involved the use of Web 2.0 extensible mash-up technology residing in the dashboard of the SAP Business ByDesign solution. The crowd watched as Kimbell drew data from external and internal procurement sources and displayed that information in a real-time, comparative user interface within SAP Business ByDesign.

The combination of the open architecture of SAP Business ByDesign and the data-modeling of Business Objects brought Plattner’s explanation of “The New Idea” full circle. “The work should come to you,” he said, “and not you, the user, going to fetch the work.”

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply