Easy-to-Use Software Is the Top Priority

Venue of the 12th SAP-IBIS Conference in Würzburg, Germany (Photos: verclas & friends kommunikationsberatung gmbh)

The hosts IBIS Prof. Thome and SAP put together a wide-ranging program for the 100 or so participants – including 21 presentations addressing, for example, application management (SAP Solution Manager and ITIL), business process management, and software innovation (SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Business Suite).

Understanding customers’ needs

Peter Lorenz, Head of SME Solutions at SAP

In his keynote, Peter Lorenz, Head of SME Solutions at SAP, addressed the demands of midsize customers, linking this topic with the goals behind SAP Business ByDesign and the related steps that SAP is planning in 2009.

“With SAP Business ByDesign, we must create immediate value for midsize companies – otherwise we’ll lose our customers,” Lorenz said. The midmarket is a very challenging area, he explained, because one employee takes on many different roles and tasks. Ease of use is therefore a top priority for the software.

That’s why usability and performance were among the areas in SAP Business ByDesign that were continuously optimized and are now state-of-the-art. However, he added, there is still room for improvement in terms of operating costs, flexibility, and extensibility. Lorenz will give these matters his close attention in 2009, he pledged.

The benefits of standard software

IBIS Prof. Thome
Founded in 1994 by Professor Rainer Thome, the company combines IT with classic business administration. Its goal is to offer companies individualized solutions by developing rule-based business cases – ultimately making these companies more competitive. IBIS Prof. Thome works on research projects with partner companies such as SAP and Siemens, as well as with staff from the Faculty of Business Administration and Information Technology at the University of Würzburg, fostering methods and tools for innovative, practice-oriented research and project work.

Professor Rainer Thome explored the benefits of standard software in his keynote. The tenured professor of Business Administration and Information Technology at the University of Würzburg and Board Chairman of IBIS Prof. Thome particularly stressed the importance of continuously adapting a company’s business processes.

This is crucial, he went on, because market requirements are changing constantly. Some companies actually think about their business processes for the first time when they implement ERP software. Standard software is thus decisive, because the business processes meet current demands, Thome added. “The alignment of business and IT will become increasingly important in the future. What’s happening in software will dictate what’s happening in business administration,” he said.

New functions with enhancement packages

Professor Rainer Thome, founder of IBIS Prof. Thome AG

In the presentations, participants were eager to hear about innovations from SAP’s development departments – SAP Business Suite, SAP Business ByDesign, and SAP Business Objects solutions.

Dr. Oliver Schipp of IBIS Prof. Thome spoke about SAP Business Suite, exploring the new features in version 7.0 and explaining the advantages of enhancement packages. These packages make it is easier to implement new functions and processes, without the need for a full upgrade. For SAP ERP 6.0, the first three enhancement packages are already available. The fourth is at the ramp-up stage and is currently being implemented with pilot customers.

SAP Business Objects solutions bring new opportunities

Steffen Vierkorn, Head of Research and Consulting at independent software analysts BARC, outlined the opportunities and challenges facing SAP as a result of the Business Objects acquisition.

According to Vierkorn, a key challenge is clear communication with customers about which products will take the lead as the two solution portfolios merge. He summed up by saying, “The acquisition of Business Objects represents a genuine improvement in SAP’s product line.”