For the third time, the charming city of Vienna is hosting SAP’s education and technology event SAP TechEd. Between October 27 and 29, developers and partners from the world of SAP are meeting to swap ideas, as well as find out about current developments in SAP software. There’s also the chance to watch demos and previews of products that won’t hit the market until 2010 at the earliest.
Big talking points this year are the networking of business processes, the analysis of business data from different sources, and what’s become known as Enterprise 2.0, in other words, integrating the world of processes with the online community.
Mark Yolton, senior vice president of the SAP Community Network at SAP, welcomed visitors to SAP TechEd and spoke about adaptive business processes. He attaches great importance to social networks – which have tripled in size within just one year. In a short review, he mentioned SAP Business Suite software, new applications by SmartOps and Vistex, and SAP’s focus on sustainability.
The keynote was held by member of the SAP Executive Board Jim Hagemann Snabe, who leads the Business Solutions & Technology organization at SAP and celebrated his 44th birthday in Vienna. He gets straight to the point: The days when companies plodded on doing one thing after another – from planning through execution – are gone. To illustrate this, he gave a few examples. It took the radio receiver 38 years to reach 50 million people on earth. The television came next, taking 13 years to reach the same number of people. Within four years, 50 million users had the Internet at their fingertips, and the Facebook community platform took just two years to achieve the same level of pervasiveness. In a nutshell, Snabe stressed that technology is becoming available faster and faster for an ever growing number of users.
Innovation: six weeks, six months, six years
According to Snabe, innovation cycles now come in three different sizes: six weeks, six months, and six years. And companies need stable business processes to be innovative. For stable business processes, companies must have software that can be adapted to future developments years in advance. At this point in his keynote, Snabe quoted a few figures about the market penetration of SAP software: 65% of the world’s chocolate production and 75% of the beer brewed each year across the globe use SAP processes.
But what does the success of technologies depend on? Snabe gave the example of Apple’s iPhone combined with the App Store, which can only be successful with a well structured infrastructure.
SAP BusinessObjects on the iPhone
On the first day of SAP TechEd, the iPhone cropped up in almost every session as a constant mobile companion. As well as the iPhone’s technological foundation, its usability is set to accelerate its use in business applications. And business intelligence on the iPhone is the next big thing. SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on iPhone, which enables users to remotely access business intelligence content, is currently at the prototype stage and will be launched soon. And then it’ll be possible to access the data with just a few taps of a finger, with even graphics appearing quickly. The bottleneck here tends to be the data bandwidth of the mobile telephony network.
SAP BusinessObjects Catalog Browser is a Web application that directly accesses the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 platform. As a result, business intelligence documents are secure, because only authenticated users can access this platform.
Another highlight during the keynote was the presentation of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on iPhone. The service is connected using a software app on the iPhone, which is currently still under development.
SAP on Google Wave – Gravity
If Lars Rasmussen, one of the developers behind Google Wave, is to be believed, this new gadget represents a revolution in online communication. Small, informal groups of curious attendees gathered to watch developers from Google and SAP display their prototypes. Google Wave combines technologies such as e-mail, document sharing, and instant messaging to form a real-time tool that enables different users to work together simultaneously. The teams from research and SAP NetWeaver at SAP joined forces to create the Gravity gadget, which can be added within the Google Wave client.
A demo showed the process model for the result of a hypothetical merger of a bank and an insurance company. After a brief processing time, it was possible to export the process model to the SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management component. In the subsequent discussion, it became apparent that Salesforce.com and Wikipedia also use Google Wave technologies.
Original1 – combating piracy
Three companies have got together to form Original1: G&D (Gieseke & Devrient), Nokia, and SAP. The new company aims to combat product piracy, which costs enterprises billions of dollars in lost revenues every year. SAP will be responsible for supply chain management and access to product data, G&D will manage data encryption, while Nokia will contribute its expertise in mobile telephony devices and technology.