The Mendocino Experience
We have made a series of announcements during the last two LANG=”en-US”>SAPPHIREs; none drew more attention than Mendocino, our first shared product to be developed and delivered jointly with Microsoft. There were a lot of external interpretations on the value and importance of Mendocino, but I’d like to give you my personal opinion on why is this product such an important milestone in the enterprise software landscape.
First let’s talk about what Mendocino is: The product will enable users to work from within MS Office applications (predominantly Outlook, Excel, Word and LANG=”en-US”>PowerPoint, but other LANG=”en-US”>apps will have some support as well) and have transparent access to information coming from the backbone enterprise system – naturally without leaving or switching context out of Office. Simple actions, like setting a meeting on the calendar can now offer transparent yet full cost accounting support through as assignment of the meeting to a specific project. Complex actions like resolving an exception can be done through email, triggering an Excel sheet and activating the NetWeaver portal in context for the resolution script. In other words complex made simple and simple made transparent. At the same time we will now enable the reverse flow of activating MS-Office inside the SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal, so that a user can use Office visualization and decision tools as part of a well managed process, inside SAP LANG=”en-US”>NetWeaver.
Behind the scenes what really drives the solution is a software “magic box” which creates the ability to connect data and meta-data links between LANG=”en-US”>mySAP/NetWeaver and MS-Office apps. All of the connections are governed by the context of the user (as delivered through the portal engine and its access rights) and the situation they are solving. The result is an information bridge that allows for data to traverse upstream and downstream, as needed by the situation at hand, and the orientation of information change. Since we are using ESA interfaces to connect Mendocino, the capabilities will work natively with SAP applications, but through NetWeaver will also work with a complete enterprise landscape of heterogeneous applications connected to NetWeaver either out of the box (through third party connectors) or through customized services.
How will Mendocino feel? In some parts you won’t feel Mendocino at all, it will be doing its magic in the background, mostly synchronizing information along the connection between Office and mySAP. In some cases you will see new SAP logos popping up on tabs that were added to Outlook, and mostly you will see the new Mendocino sidebar available with more information, actions and links to related people or resolution scripts along your favorite Office application (read: Excel, Word or PowerPoint). If you have not seen the demos STYLE=”text-decoration: none”>you should check them out in my Boston keynote (about 1/3 of the way thru) to believe how simple it all is when we put it together. We had these demo pods all around the show floor in Denmark and the US Sapphires (7 rows of people hanging around the screens…), and the people just loved the look and feel. The most common statement after “I want to make sure you put me on the ramp-up customer list” was “I have been asking for this for the last 10 years”. Better late than never ( and we promise the first delivery will be this year!). For those of you who will certainly ask, Ranjan Das (email@example.com) is the guy to talk with about getting into the Mendocino rampup.
What is the importance of Mendocino? Well, we see a number of very big scenarios that happen as a result of Mendocino. Most of these scenarios can be described under the banner of “Continuity of Information™”. In the case where information was moved from a mySAP system to an excel sheet, say for example a sales report out of CRM put onto a sheet for analysis at the last week of the quarter. It becomes critical to the organization to assure that the information is not exposed to users who are not allowed to see it. Such assurance can only be delivered to through a combined effort by the Office DRM team and LANG=”en-US”>NetWeaver’s identity management. The ability to hide information based on the meta-data behind a cell is critical for issues such as compliance or traceability. The need is to track the exposure of the spreadsheet in a corporate repository that assures us the ability to report on all views of the data (not just this specific report) regardless of the display, whether an enterprise report or an excel sheet. This is not a futuristic need, it is mandated by LANG=”en-US”>Sarbanes- LANG=”en-US”>Oxley today, and should make every CEO happy he can rest assured his CIO really knows where data has been in those critical days of the quarter before the SEC reports come out. I was asked by a CIO at Sapphire to justify the value of Mendocino (half a minute after he said “I want it”), and whether it was a TCO justification. The scenario described above is a simple justification that shows us the effect of Continuity of Information, as a powerful capability to avoiding jail time by a CEO…
Finally, I was continuously asked about the effect Mendocino will have on the customers and our LANG=”en-US”>financials. Our view is that we are looking for breakthrough solutions (also called “Killer LANG=”en-US”>Apps”) that can be developed as result of the great effort we are putting around the creation of the Business Process Platform and ESA. No two companies other than SAP and MSFT can deliver on such an ambitious market-changing product. Both of us embarked on a Service Oriented Architecture and put it into our ubiquitous products driving the backbone and desktops of enterprise productivity, and have been at this effort for the last 3-4 years ago. We both have clear documented service interfaces that we can use to build these joint products, and can share with the world in a truly open way. What we are doing now is replacing tedious, error-prone processes that exist in many of our shared customers, whereas people copy data upstream or downstream in an attempt to bridge the gap between SAP and Office daily. The price those customers pay has been estimated at $2B a year or more, and that does not include the hidden costs of errors and breakage. Replacing the problem with an elegant solution is what true software companies are about. It is not an attempt to steal market share from competitors, rather a way to increase the overall pie, by delivering more value to customers, more information and simplicity to end-users making systems work the way users work, not the other way around.