During the opening keynote today at SAP TechEd ’06, SAP AG president of the Product and Technology Group and executive board member Shai Agassi outlined the changing role of IT in the light of the shift to enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA) and how the IT community can accelerate innovation and value for their companies.
Speaking to an audience of thousands of members of the technical and business process expert community, Agassi emphasized that developers have the opportunity to create innovation at a pace, level and efficiency never thought possible before by taking a few critical steps. Agassi offered insight into these critical steps and provided a checklist comprised of four calls to action to prepare for the coming enterprise SOA evolution: solidify your foundation, modernize your core, optimize business usage and drive strategic differentiation. The announcement was made at SAP TechEd ’06, being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sept. 12 – 15.
“During the past decade, the IT community has been largely successful in addressing business challenges through the strategic application of hardware and software,” Agassi highlighted. “However, companies are changing faster than ever, and strategies that worked in the past are no longer a match for the rapid change in business models that we are witnessing. SAP is devoting thousands of its employees to address this IT challenge by creating a high level of innovation and simplicity in our applications and platform and we believe that the ecosystem has a critical role. This is why we are investing heavily in providing resources and creating a community that can work together to tackle these challenges and drive an open innovation network moving forward.”
Solidify Your Foundation
In order to be ready for the move to enterprise SOA, Agassi advised developers to take the following actions to solidify their companies’ IT foundation: clean up and manage master data; consolidate business processes, instances and applications, map major and minor business events, assess IT skills and competencies and consolidate hardware. “With these elements in place and by using SAP NetWeaver as an open, integrated platform,” he noted, “companies will have a solid footing to build upon, and can then move on to modernize their core.”
Modernize Your Core
Agassi also called on IT professionals to make sure their companies have a road map in place to upgrade to mySAP ERP 2005, the first service-enabled ERP solution from any vendor in the market.
“The most fundamental component of a strong foundation is mySAP ERP 2005, because it builds upon the market-proven processes within its core and also serves as a long-term service-oriented platform for innovation,” continued Agassi. “Today SAP announced that, through 2010, new functional enhancements to this best-in-class ERP solution will be made available as extensions in a series of optional enhancement packages. These include: composites for new processes, an enhanced user experience, enterprise service definitions, enterprise services implementations providing industry-specific capabilities and technical enhancements. Thousands of customers have experienced the functional and technical enhancements in mySAP ERP 2005, and this application will continue to provide a stable yet evolutionary business process platform as companies move into the era of enterprise SOA.”
Optimize Business Usage
Agassi also called on developers to work on simplifying the user experience and exposing more users within the enterprise to the benefits of enterprise SOA. In his keynote, Agassi showed developers how multiple user experiences can serve the needs of various types of users, including Duet, widgets, portal, voice access and Project Muse. He also discussed how business users can leverage the new business intelligence accelerator technology from SAP to drive data to all information workers. Agassi emphasized that all of these innovations become available once companies move to a release level of mySAP ERP 2005 or above.
“Once there is a solid foundation in place and the core has been modernized, the composite applications that can be created from here are limitless,” Agassi shared with the audience. “There are hundreds of SAP xApps(TM) available today and SAP and its partners are co-innovating to develop solutions that end users need to make the right decisions.”
Agassi also touched on the company’s introduction of SAP Enterprise Search, which allows information workers to easily locate and leverage critical business data and transactions from internal and external sources to save time and increase productivity. The new and enhanced capabilities work across a company’s existing IT infrastructure, pulling content from SAP and non-SAP systems, to support faster and smarter decision making in order to optimize business usage.
Drive Strategic Differentiation
Agassi also observed that “more than 95 percent of business is common across all companies, in all industries. But it’s the rest that is unique to you and your business that provides the strategic differentiation, which allows companies to be unique and to become first movers in the market. During the coming year, it will become increasingly important to standardize around enterprise SOA definitions. From here, companies can more easily understand their differentiators, which will allow them to compose unique processes from standardized services.”
In his keynote Agassi described a new category of experts inside companies whose focus is on business model innovation. “Business process experts” are those individuals within an organization that are managing new and unique business processes in order to differentiate their company in the market. He told the audience at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas that SAP is the first company to foster a community in which business process experts can communicate and collaborate with one another on business process topics. The community has grown to more than 30,000 members within four months.
Agassi urged developers to educate themselves about enterprise SOA and the capabilities of enterprise services by gaining hands-on experience with the SAP Discovery System for enterprise SOA and by participating in the standardization of SOA definitions. “When developers can say that they have addressed all four elements in the checklist, they will know their work is finished,” concluded Agassi. “There are more than a half million members of the SAP developer network, sitting in every part of the globe. This special group is much more than just about being part of a community: ‘you’ are the community. During the next three days spend as much time as possible in the 900 hours of technical education sessions offered as well as networking with one another. Before I see you again next year, I challenge each of you to create your own composite application. We will count on you to bring even greater innovation to user experience, get your company involved in an industry value network and live and breathe the SDN community as a user and contributor.”