Even SAP admits that Business ByDesign got off to a bit of a rocky start when it launched in 2007. Lately, though, with regular updates to the solution delivered via feature packs and increased user engagement, Business ByDesign has managed to rack up over 1,400 deployments in 15 countries. And more and more, these deployments are occurring outside of the traditional SME market, which is usually capped at 500 employees. On January 1, 2013, 8,500 users in the Department of Trade and Investment in New South Wales, Australia, will go live on Business ByDesign, making it the largest implementation yet.
An SME solution for unlimited users?
Plans to increase the core ERP functionality and provide additional integration scenarios for subsidiaries in 2013 will make Business ByDesign even more suitable for adoption by large enterprises. Rainer Zinow, SVP SAP Business ByDesign, puts it this way: “There’s no ceiling on the number of users with ByDesign. Whether or not a large enterprise should deploy it has more to do with their business process requirements.”
Still, how can large enterprises expect SAP Business ByDesign, which after all is marketed as an SME solution, to scale to their needs? With SAP HANA as the platform. This is the major technology innovation on SAP’s 2013 road map for Business ByDesign. In this case, the integration of HANA has little to do with speeding up processes, since Business ByDesign customers already process most of their data in main memory. Rather, it has more to do with improving infrastructure and scalability. “It would be a waste of resources to just put ByDesign on HANA,” says Zinow. “We need to figure out how to take advantage of the built-in capabilities that come with HANA’s architecture. Like not storing aggregates, but doing them on the fly.”
HANA to improve scalability, not only speed
At the moment, SAP is conducting testing with Intel to ensure that the in-memory platform delivers the kind of scalability improvements to justify the integration. So far, says Zinow, the tests have shown positive results. The first step, then, will be to enable the technical layer. After that, the task will be to identify areas of improvement for existing business processes. When integration is complete, Business ByDesign customers will have all of the benefits of the HANA platform, with none of the cost. Zinow doesn’t expect the update to have any effect on the pricing.
Here is an overview of the four main areas of enhancement planned for the February 2013 feature pack:
In the area of professional services, new functions include external forecast integration and inter-company automation. In terms of core ERP functionality, Business ByDesign users will get new tools in the area of wholesale and manufacturing, such as a sales kit, subcontracting, batch management, and pricing flexibility. They will also have serialization management for subsidiaries. Many of these new features originated in the Business ByDesign Idea Place, a community for users to share and vote on their ideas for solution improvements.
SAP Business ByDesign can also be deployed for subsidiaries of large enterprises. In what is called a two-tier ERP approach, companies deploying SAP Business Suite can integrate their backend with subsidiaries using ByDesign. This ensures data accuracy and compliance across various sales and financial processes. SuccessFactors, as a large subsidiary of SAP, deploys Business ByDesign in this manner. Next year, companies can expect to see expanded country support (New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore, and possibly South Korea and South Africa as well) and additional integration scenarios.
Software development kit (SDK)
According to Zinow, the SDK is a big selling point for many customers. It allows companies to get very specific industry functionality in SAP Business ByDesign, which SAP simply doesn’t have the resources to provide. One partner, for example, developed a plant maintenance add-on specifically for windmills. Updates are planned for the SDK in 2013, including a globalization kit.
As described above in more detail, SAP plans to run Business ByDesign on the SAP HANA platform. Next year, it will also move from Microsoft Silverlight to HTML5.