Prepared For The New Reality

March 4, 2009 by Stephan Magura

Jim Hagemann Snabe on SAP Business Suite 7 SAP Executive Board Member Jim Hagemann Snabe introduces the new SAP Business Suite 7

Mr. Hagemann Snabe, our customers face challenging times. Their IT budgets are under pressure, and they have to get more out of the software they run. Why should they buy the SAP Business Suite 7 now?

Actually, the Suite is coming out when the market – and our customers – need it most. Why? Because it’s designed to help customers save money and be more agile when opportunities in this tough economic environment do rise. Reducing IT costs means standardizing business processes, and getting agile means having better insights and more flexible processes. With the new Suite, we have defined new and improved processes that go across application silos and departmental boundaries to make our solutions easier to implement and cheaper to use. And they’re all delivered in a way that won’t disrupt our customers’ business.

SAP Business Suite 7 offers:

  • value scenarios that bring together standardized, preconfigured business processes for process excellence
  • more than 150 functional new innovations delivered through enhancement packages that allow customers to pick and choose the functionality they need to ultimately reduce costs
  • a new harmonized user interface across all applications to reduce training costs
  • selected embedded analytics capabilities from SAP Business Objects that enable customers to gain deeper insights

The new Suite is fully SOA-enabled and provides more than 2,800 enterprise services, giving customers process flexibility.

SAP Business Suite 7 is the first of a new generation of modular solutions. What does this mean?

It’s a new approach. Instead of looking from an IT perspective and siloing different applications, we’re looking at the business itself. It’s about finding the right groupings of functionalities that fit to a specific end-to-end process need – and excelling at that.

And the benefit for companies?

Added business value and increased competitiveness. Let me explain: One of the most important features of the new Suite are its value scenarios. These are end-to-end processes that span the traditional boundaries of applications. They help us move away from IT structured silos and focus more on business value – ensuring greater process excellence. And the great thing is that customers can implement them in a step-wise fashion and deploy them when needed.

What else is different about the new Suite?

The Suite also offers a harmonized user interface – for the first time in our history – and certainly it’s the first suite in the market to have the same experience across all of the applications. For businesses, this means reduced training costs and effort. It also incorporates select analytics capabilities of the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio. This allows customers to monitor execution and make sound decisions for positive change.

At the core of the new Suite is, of course, service-oriented architecture. We’re delivering a complete service-enabled suite, which allows customers to consume best practices and to build their processes on top. It enables them to be faster, whether it’s in taking new market opportunities or differentiating their business against the competition.

What is the upgrade path like for customers who already use SAP solutions as well as older releases? What kind of investment do they have to make?

SAP Business Suite 7 offers an important innovation: enhancement packages. We’re unique in the market by offering a suite where you can select and deploy the functionality you need without making costly major upgrades to your current solution. Of course, you need to get to that release. That was the case with ERP 6.0, which is the core of the SAP Business Suite 7. For application areas other than ERP, you need to move to the latest version. We’ve spent a significant time in development to make sure that it will be smooth. And we are very satisfied with the feedback we received from our ramp-up customers.

In what way does the Suite enable business transformation?

Particularly in tough times, companies that are not critically hit will often try to look for new opportunities. They’ll outsource parts of their business and focus on the areas where they have their core competence. With our approach, we’re able to have a business conversation with our customer. We can help them understand where we can improve their business from a best practice point of view and where they need to differentiate. Then we deliver the solution. So we’re filling the gap between what businesses need and the IT they need to do it with.

How does the new Suite lower the total cost of ownership for customers?

In the Suite we focus our functionality on areas that help companies save money in general – such as treasury, cash management, procurement. Another focus is saving IT costs for our customers. For example, since you can take advantage of new functionality while not upgrading for up to five years, you can reduce your TCO significantly. And there is also the SAP Solution Manager. It’s a key part of the infrastructure that helps our customers manage different applications at the lowest possible cost.

With the trend toward flexible solutions based on hosting, software-as-a-service and cloud computing, why should companies build their future upon a complex software like SAP Business Suite? Is this an innovative approach?

It really depends on what problem you’re trying to solve. Companies want control over their business-critical practices. They want their own solutions, and they want the ability to evolve these solutions over time. Of course, we also need to provide solutions on demand. It’s cheap. It’s really simple consumption. But in terms of functional richness, it normally has only a very narrow scope. That’s sufficient for non-core processes where it doesn’t matter that you have to do the same thing as everyone else – and do it in a very simple way. Here, ease of consumption is more important.

SAP believes in a hybrid model that combines on-premise and on-demand offerings, a mode that allows customers to evolve their businesses and choose which offering fits which business need best. We’ll offer both of these options in a consistent way so that pieces actually fit together, even though parts of them are outsourced in the cloud.

Parts of the business community are questioning SAP’s leadership role because of the ongoing discussions about SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Enterprise Support. What happens if the Business Suite doesn’t live up to expectations?

That won’t happen. I’m convinced the market needs and will welcome the new Business Suite. We just have to make sure that our partners are ready to deliver on that demand. If we do that well, SAP Business Suite 7 will be the most significant application in the market in the next two years.

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