Last week at CeBIT I had the pleasure of working 7 days from 9:00am to 6:00pm at the Adobe desk in the gigantic SAP booth. As you can imagine a lot of people stopped by and wondered what Adobe is doing with SAP. The consumer crowd who stopped by wanted to know more about the latest features in Adobe Photoshop (and get as many Adobe freebies as possible) but looked puzzled when I talked about the Adobe Designer integration in the NetWeaver Developer Studio. When I started to talk about the benefits of Adobe PDF in Web Dynpro they grabbed their bags and ran away 😉
Frankly just over a year ago I belonged to the clueless crowd. At that point in time I had already worked for eight years doing product management for software companies in the enterprise space, especially around business-to-business integration. I was working for Commerce One in California and I had done a lot of partnership work with SAP. One evening my wife was browsing the web for job offers especially looking for opportunities in the area of software for creative professionals. She called me excited from behind the computer and stated she had found an interesting job opportunity for me: A Product Manager position posted on the Adobe web site. I was skeptical; I told her that I focus on enterprise software product management and Adobe is clearly shrink-wrap software. But she responded that this role would be responsible for the partnership between Adobe and SAP. Now I was stunned. Adobe and SAP? What are they going to do together? Photoshop Integration in R/3? This did not make sense to me so I looked at the posting myself. Indeed Adobe was looking for a Product Manager to build up the recently announced partnership with SAP and they were looking for someone in the US willing to go to Walldorf to work directly out of the SAP headquarters.
Doing some more research I found out that Adobe had acquired a company called Accelio (formerly named JetForm) which was the market leader in server based forms software. Reading additional press releases it became clear that Adobe had a strong strategy to move into the enterprise software space. Coming from the EDI/B2Bi area I found that idea very intriguing. Take the ubiquitous Adobe Reader and PDF, enhance it with interactive features and an XML data model and you have a completely new way to integrate users inside and outside the enterprise with your core business applications.
The rest is history… almost. My wife and I moved to Heidelberg in June 2003 and today we are shipping Adobe technology integrated into the SAP Web Application Server 6.40. This Weblog (maybe it will become a historic piece in Adobe and SAP history and I will show it to my grandchildren in 40 years… OK I am drifting away) marks the start of a series of articles, tutorials, code samples and white papers which we will post to SDN over the coming months. We expect to have the first wave of content up in time for the ASUG Conference and the official launch at SAPPHIRE.
P.S.: Actually we had over 50 well informed (maybe I can call them geniuses?) visitors at the Adobe Desk in the SAP booth. These SAP customers were already aware of our partnership and solutions and were very excited to see the new Adobe Designer integrated into the NetWeaver Developer Studio and the ABAP Workbench as well as application scenarios with interactive PDF forms.