I’ve read a lot of blogs lately that talk about Duet, the new software from Microsoft and SAP. Many topics and questions have been raised, and I thought I’d gather just a few of them here in one place to discuss them. I borrowed some of the words I used in responses on other blogs, all of which are listed with links below. On a side note, this is my first blog posted from 35,000 feet above the Atlantic (flying back from SAPPHIRE in Paris).
First of all, Duet is open and extensible. SAP, Microsoft, customers, integrators, ISVs, students, or anyone else can plug into the open, standards-compliant, web services that expose the Duet capabilities. Contractually, Microsoft and SAP agreed to open the interfaces and make them available for use.
Second, Duet is open and extensible. If you would like to plug Duet into other applications besides SAP and Office, this is something that should be pretty easily done.
Third, Duet is open and extensible. The scenarios we deliver will come with tools starting in our “Value Pack 1” release (scheduled for Q3). This release will include tools for “Duet-enabling” reports (more on the benefits of this at another time). Over time, we will enhance the tools so entirely new scenarios can be created by others besides SAP.
Fourth, Duet is not about exposing SAP functionality in Office. Duet is designed extend the things information workers do with Office in the enterprise, connecting these things to accurate, timely enterprise information and processes. Check out the demo at duet.com — the embedded analytics, related actions, and new capabilities brought into Office is what Duet is all about. I think a real problem with previous attempts to integrate Office and enterprise apps is that the entire metaphor of one or the other was attempted — people tried to make the enterprise apps forms to show up in Excel or Word (not that useful — except minimally when you are offline), or they tried to make complex enterprise processes and data appear as functions in Excel (useful). With Duet, we really worked hard on how the metaphors can integrate. It was a LOT of work to make seamless integration in the information worker experience together with complex enterprise information and processes, and to create the technology to enable this integration. We proved the technology with these initial scenarios (time management, leave management, organization management, and budget monitoring). BTW, we arent just doing the creation of a request for a vacation day — we did all the workflow integration to do approvals, handle rejections, synchronize with CATS, etc. I believe Duet is unique in the product world right now in this integration of metaphors, which may not be surprising given that Duet is a joint product from the collaboration of the Office group within Microsoft together with Emerging Solutions at SAP. There are many products that integrate Office with SAP, but none that integrate the Information Worker with the enterprise to the extent provided by Duet.
I have a lot more to say about Duet, but that will have to wait for another day (and a battery recharge).
Blogs referenced here: