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Well, I am crossing the Atlantic again, so as I promised I will add another entry to my blog. I was surprised by the small number of postings in response to my SAP NetWeaver Update – October 2004, although some of you decided to respond directly to my inbox (Answers: Yes, I did write my blog myself; and no help from Marketing)

The last few weeks I had the pleasure of mostly meeting and working with customers in various forums. There is a significant increase in awareness to NetWeaver (I guess someone must have actually read the NW4Dummies books after all). We see it in independent surveys which indicate a 3x growth in awareness, but also in non-scientific measurements ( Laurie Nolan’s ASUG – NW 101 class attracted 4x the number of people this year than last year). Speaking of ASUG, a couple of weeks ago they had the ASUG Technology Forum group meeting in Dallas and more than 900 members showed up – congratulations to all of the ASUG Technology Forum Customer Volunteers for such a great showing. We are internally working very diligently on classes and eLearning to support all the people who are seeking knowledge around NetWeaver and next year will be a great year of training and certifications around the platform.

Most customer conversations revolve around questions of timing “When should I upgrade to mySAP ERP, and when should I deploy NetWeaver?”. It is good to see that so many have figured out that we will innovate so much on the NetWeaver platform and that ERP is their future that the question is just one of when to jump in. My answer has to change to reflect their situation: Regardless of the software acquisition strategy (The later you upgrade, the more you will pay, and you will only enjoy the benefits later – so don’t wait), the decision needs to be driven from a business perspective and anchored in real benefits. We have been helping customers recently understand the value drivers and translate them into specific focused projects. The wonderful value engineering group in our field has been doing such a thorough job, some of their cases should be published as roadmaps for others to be inspired by (if you have not had a VE engagement ask your field for an example of their work).

Some scenarios are starting to show up multiple times and are obvious candidates to pick up – Supplier enablement, Proactive Report dissemination, Global brand management are some I like the most.

Supplier enablement deals with the connectivity between the organization and its most strategic suppliers removing friction, in the form of manual data entry, errors and breakage and enabling transparency which helps both trading partners reduce inventories and increase profitability. Some companies do it on their own, using NetWeaver and ERP, while others add NetWeaver to some of our products like SCM with ICH and SRM. Better supplier enablement translates to bottom line savings that bring the ROI so quickly that some of these projects literally pay for themselves in months.

Proactive Report Dissemination opens up the data in the organization to new user groups that need timely information but do not want to go hunting for it. Through a lot of cross stack integration available in NW’04 we created the closest experience to one-button report distribution available. We see many customers picking up on this capability and leveraging their portal and BW investments. By next year, with Euclid’s performance gains I expect to see massive amounts of personalized reports calculated over night and distributed across the organization, changing the data consumption model from pull to push.

Finally, Global Brands are starting to figure out how to maintain consistency of brand across multiple geographic areas and diverging markets. The need to leverage successful campaigns across multiple geographies creates a need for a distributed knowledge system, shared catalogs of content and processes that can be followed on-line. The effort is to predict and repeat success from one market to another.

If you have an interesting breakthrough project you believe can be used by others, write to me, I will try to publish some of the most interesting ones here on SDN.

Shai

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  1. Craig Cmehil
    Yesterday I held a presentation here at my company together with my supervisor. Our attempt was to enlighten our ABAP developers to what they can start using, e.g. BSP, as well as our Java developers to what the future holds. We learned that during these presentations that we faced similiar questions “When” and “How” being the biggest.

    When, as in “When will we go to this platform”, our response was of course that we had already started moving in that direction and we are moving further along.

    How, this seems to be a popular question and one I came across not only at the NetWeaver conference in Frankfurt this year but also at TechEd Munich. “How will we work with the system”, which leads me to the point of my post.

    Many people seem to think that NetWeaver and all the Java means no more GUI whereas others believe the GUI is still there and solidly in place and others hold to the fact that the Enterprise Portal now bundled (seemingly so) with NW04 is the GUI replacement.

    From my limited experience I would say that awareness of NetWeaver and what it will do for your company is as you said “large”, however the practical side of how do I login to myERP and work with my transactions seems a bit on the cloudy side. Although the NetWeaver for Dummies does clarify a lot, SAP may want to spend a bit extra time “marketing” that side of things?

    Just my random thoughts on Friday afternoon, enjoy your flight across the Atlantic….

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  2. Matthew Easlea
    Shai,

    I’ve recently spent some time learning how to develop Eclipse Plugins and especially Eclipse RCP applications. What i’m interested in is SAPs commitment to Eclipse and future development plans for Eclipse in both a netweaver and broader SAP perspective.

    For instance, will we see a fully featured ABAP development environment in Eclipse? Could we see a SAPGUI client written as an Eclipse RCP Application? I ask because Eclipse is far more than just a development environment, and SWT / JFace is a capable provider of rich client applications.

    Such Fat Clients only complement the excellent ePortal infrastructure already provided by SAP Netweaver.

    Cheers

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    1. Anonymous
      Matthew,

      Eclipse is indeed a strategic platform for us right now, but only as a development studio not as a GUI client. We intend to keep to our own UI technologies going forward, which are more web based, and less thick client. We also have a smart client intiative, but it is not based on Eclipse.

      Keep checking for more announcements.
      shai

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  3. asher benbenisty
    althought the NetWeaver 04 has been published the portal platform and KM is still in it’s dipers. when we can expect it to fully support the transfering of everything, in a simple manner, between platforms.more over, the ever changiing enviroment althought it is exciting to see new things all the time but still when we will reach some steablity on that issue(Like We see in other SAP Products).
    is sap intention to develop the km for it to be a real Kowledge managment tool like Documentum and such products or is it about the end of development for this enviroment
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    1. Anonymous
      Asher,

      It is not our intent to compete against such companies as Documentum. As a matter of fact we see them as partners on multiple fronts. We enable the connection of their stores into our KM Unification layer through KM connectors and we enable them to use the portal for display and integration capabilities, including some of the document flow interaction with the end user.

      The ECM market is very large and has many players and those are to a certain degreee specialiazing in the domain of document store and document centric interaction. We can only provide an integration platform for them, but not a replacement for all their feature sets.

      shai

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  4. Scott Barden
    Hey Shai,

    A technical question, but one I believe important for the success of applications based on an ESA architecture.

    It seems to me that a large part of the web service exposure of SAP applications is based on the BAPI heritage.  Because of technical limitations imposed by RFC, BAPI’s had to be designed and implemented to perform their database updates only when a commit was requested.  The problem with this approach is that it prevents combining multiple BAPI calls into a single unit of work.

    As a very basic example, suppose as part of my business requirement I need to consume services to create a customer and post a sales order against that customer as a single unit of work.  This is an important distinction.  If the creation of the sales order fails, then the customer record should not be left in the system.

    Currently this is not possible with a BAPI approach, because the validation logic of the sales order BAPI expects the customer record to exist in the database already.  Of course, this is a mickey mouse example, but when we take the level of service consumption to a new level with ESA applications, I imagine such limitations could become unacceptable.

    To be fair, I’m not sure whether this limitation will also apply to newer style web services introduced with WAS 6.40 (such as those based on ABAP Objects methods) however from what I’ve seen in 6.20, I suspect so.

    Cheers,
    Scott Barden

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  5. Steven De Saeger
    Hi Shai,

    As a developer I can only embrace all the technical innovations that are coming with the SAP Netweaver platform …

    As a SAP consultant I am going through the same discussions with my customers on how the “SAP Netweaver” platform might bring additional value to their business … That kind of discussions are never easy (independantly of any software) and it is sometimes hard not to loose oneself in all the technical bits & bytes that SAP Netweaver brings along the path …

    Personally I believe that the benefits are becoming more obvious (and a reality) when one is willing to implement the whole platform (and use all components in relationship with each other) … Obviously not an easy story to tell your customers, even with SOA in mind …

    The future of the SAP Netweaver platform will depend completely on how easy that migration will be possible in the next coming years …

    Regards,

    Steven

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  6. Claire Lecompte
    Hello Shai,

    I was wondering if you can cue me in on the growth projection of the number of business packages available for EP.  As seen in the marketplace, Q3/2005 does not announce any new business packages, only upgrades, but Q4/2005 has 6 new packages brewing in the oven.

    I vaguely remember for BW that there was a growth projection available which was indeed quite helpful when trying to argue the TPO.

    I’m presently basking in the joys of an ROI for an EP in our company – but frankly, soft benefits don’t hit home as well.  Nonetheless, I’m attempting to gather as much information as possible.

    I know you can’t cue me in on numbers relatively to vendor packages, but I’m hoping that an SAP BP growth projection exists.

    Best regards,

    Claire

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