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Summary of Shai’s Keynote at SAP TechEd ’06 Las Vegas

SAP TechEd ’06 kicked-off Tuesday morning with a keynote by Shai Agassi, member of the SAP Executive Board and president of the SAP Product and Technology Group (PTG). Though the Palazzo ballroom at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas is the size of a regulation American-football field, Shai’s keynote was standing room only.    Shai opened his remarks with kudos to the SAP Developer Network (SDN) for reaching the 500,000-member mark. He then announced the official launch of the Business Process Expert (BPX) community, already 30,000 members strong after a four-month sneak preview. The BPX Community is a dynamic, online community for business process professionals – including business analysts; process and application consultants; and process architects.   Simplicity and innovation as the SAP ecosystem moves into enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA) was the theme of Shai’s presentation. He outlined the changing role of IT in the shift to enterprise SOA; explained how companies can accelerate innovation; and illustrated how the SAP community is more empowered than ever. Shai also provided a checklist to focus strategic IT projects in 2007. The list focused on four, key development stages: solidify the foundation; modernize the core; optimize business usage; and drive strategic differentiation.  Phase One: Solidify the Foundation Critical to this stage is Master Data Management (MDM). Before anything else, companies must clean up and manage their master data. “Everything else that we talk about won’t make any sense unless you have your list of truths,” said Shai.   To be ready for the move to enterprise SOA, Agassi advised developers to clean up and manage master data; consolidate business processes, instances and applications; map business events; assess IT skills and competencies; and consolidate hardware. “With these elements in place and by using SAP NetWeaver® as an open, integrated platform,” Shai said, “companies will have a solid footing to build upon, and can then move on to modernize their core .” Phase Two – Modernize the Core This phase involves enabling critical systems to accommodate frequent innovation without frequent upgrades or changes. To illustrate this idea, Shai told a story about a Fortune 1,000 CIO he met with recently. The CIO stipulated that once his company’s systems were up and running, SAP would only by allowed to touch the core processes once every five years. The caveat: the CIO wanted to innovate with his every quarter. “Think of that dichotomy – twenty innovation cycles without ever touching the [core] systems,” emphasized Shai.   The SAP product that can meet this need is mySAP™ ERP 2005, the first service-enabled ERP solution from any vendor in the market and the “grand central station of your systems,” according to Shai.  “The most fundamental component of a strong foundation is mySAP ERP 2005, because it builds upon the market-proven processes within its core, and also serves as a long-term. service-oriented platform for innovation,” Shai explained. “Today SAP announced that, through 2010, new functional enhancements to this best-in-class ERP solution will be made available as extensions in a series of optional enhancement packages. These include: composites for new processes; an enhanced user experience; enterprise service definitions; enterprise services implementations providing industry-specific capabilities; and technical enhancements.    “Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) reshapes software delivery and consumption, enabling you to innovate on-demand,” Shai continued.   Jeff Word, who manages strategic projects for the Product and Technology Group (PTG), then joined Shai on-stage to introduce the mySAP ERP Solution Browser, a tool to help companies assess the value of upgrading by comparing functionality enhancements between existing solutions and target releases. You can try out the Solution Browser at Shai and Jeff then discussed multiple upgrade paths, including upgrade by instance and function, as well as side-by-side, end-to-end, and bottom up integration.   Then Shai went over benchmarking results from ASUG members who have already upgraded to mySAP ERP 2005. Eighty-six percent met or exceeded their functional expectations, 92 percent completed the upgrade on time, and 88 percent exceeded their ROI expectations. “MySAP ERP upgrades are proven fast and predictable,” said Shai.   Phase 3 – Optimize Business Usage “Now begins the fun,” said Shai, who called on developers to simplify the user experience and expose more users to the benefits of enterprise SOA. To show the audience how multiple user experiences can serve the needs of various types of users, Shai and Jeff did demo to show how a single enterprise service can be consumed in various ways. The tongue-in-cheek scenario was that Jeff was trying to request a few days off from Shai, his real-life boss.    Though a single service was running behind the scenes, Shai was able to see Jeff’s leave request and reject it four different ways. First, Shai declined Jeff’s vacation request from his universal work list on a sexy, new UI in an AJAX-enabled version of the SAP GUI (available in 2007). Then he denied the request from Microsoft Outlook, using Duet. Next, Shai demoed a Yahoo! Widget on his desktop. The widget displayed Shai’s work list, showed Jeff’s balance of vacation days, and allowed Shai to accept or reject the leave request with a single click on the desktop. Finally, Shai turned down Jeff’s holiday on his mobile phone. When Jeff entered his leave request, he asked the system to push it to Shai on his mobile phone. Shai got a call and a robotic baritone elucidated the request, reported on Jeff’s available leave, and then asked Shai to accept or reject.   “Reject!” quipped Shai into the phone, and so it was. Throughout the demonstration, the audience ‘ooh-ed’, ‘ahh-ed’, and applauded. (They laughed too, of course.)    Shai went on to discuss how, starting with release-level mySAP ERP 2005, users can leverage the new business intelligence accelerator (BIA) technology to drive data to all information workers.    Agassi also touched on Project Argo, the code name for SAP ® Enterprise Search, which allows information workers to easily locate and leverage critical business data and transactions from SAP and non-SAP systems alike. You can download the Project Argo sneak preview release on SDN.     In phase three, Shai explained that, unlike the other phases, where all elements of the checklist are essential, companies can pick and choose how to optimize business usage. “Once there is a solid foundation in place and the core has been modernized, the composite applications that can be created are limitless,” Shai explained. “There are hundreds of SAP xApps™ available today and SAP and its partners are co-innovating to develop solutions that end users need to make the right decisions.”  Phase Four – Drive Strategic Differentiation Shai explained that “more than 95 percent of business is common across all companies, in all industries. But [the five percent] unique to your business provides the strategic differentiation that makes companies first movers in the market.”   “[In] the coming year, it will become increasingly important to standardize around enterprise SOA definitions,” Shai continued. “From [there], companies can more easily understand their differentiators, which will allow them to compose unique processes from standardized services.”  Shai went on to discuss how the Chief Information Officer function is morphing into two distinctive roles: the Chief Process Innovation Officer (CPIO),  and the Chief IT Officer (CITO, to coin a new acronym). In this new model, the CPIO is in charge of innovative business processes and continuous process integration. The CITO ensures the continuous operation of the underlying systems, and keeping those systems operating at peak performance. The two roles are dependent on one another: the more efficient the systems, the less money they cost. And the savings can be funneled back into efforts to continuously innovate business processes. “IT is not dead,” Shai proclaimed.   Agassi urged developers to educate themselves about enterprise SOA and the capabilities of enterprise services by gaining hands-on experience with the SAP Discovery System for enterprise SOA and by participating in the standardization of SOA definitions. He also unveiled the SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment for enterprise services, a lean, standard-based and easy to use environment for building and running composite applications. The Composition Environment will soon be  available in preview release on SDN.   Shai also unveiled an xApp hub code-named Project Sidecar, a lean consumption model for composites that enables risk-free testing. “Think of it iTunes for xApps,” said Shai. Enter search terms into Sidecar, by enterprise function, for example, and it returns a list of related xApps for download, along with user reviews and best practices for each xApp. Users can then download their selected xApps into the SAP Discovery System and try them out.    Agassi stressed that composite applications are critical in the coming year. “Do not get to TechEd next year without building a composite,” he said.    ====================  Shai summed-up his message by outlining benchmarks to help companies answer the question: when are we done?   You’re done with: Phase One – Solidify  the Foundation, when: SAP NW is integrated as your technology platform.   You’re done with: Phase Two – Modernize the core, when: mySAP ERP powered by NW is your open business process platform   You’re done with: Phase Three – Optimize business usage, when: all information users use real-time information all the time   You’re done with: Phase Four – Drive Strategic Differentiation, when: Your company has a portfolio of innovations that differentiate it from the competition   Shai closed his keynote by urging developers to take advantage of the more than 900 hours of technical education sessions offered at SAP TechEd.  “Look at you,” Shai continued. “thousands of people working together, innovating together. [SAP is counting on you] to bring even greater innovation to [the] user experience, to get your company involved in an industry value network, and to live and breathe the SDN community as both a user and a contributor.”
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  • This summary is far better: more accurate, more complete, more meaty than any of the external reporters’ articles on Shai’s keynote.  Good reading for anyone who wasn’t there.

    Why is it that the other reporters seem to always get it wrong, misunderstand a word that really matters, emphasize some tiny thing as the most important while missing the core message…?

    For the crowd reading this: Shai must have mentioned SDN more than a dozen times.  I stopped counting.  He really emphasized that SDN really is the place where our technologists gather, share, collaborate, co-innovate…

    Shai said the words “business process expert” maybe half-a-dozen times.  While we were listening to Shai on stage, the PR team “pushed the button” to launch that new community officially.  There has been tremendous interest from the media, great remarks from the analysts about its relevance and potential value, and amazing energy at the Business Process Expert area in the Clubhouse at TechEd from customers who say, “Yes! This is great!”  (Ask Marilyn Pratt for more, or watch her blogs…). 

    Great summary of Shai’s remarks.

  • Thank you for the summary!

    In other sources I have read that Shai stated “the next version of SAP’s portal, code-named Project Muse, will use AJAX-style development to improve the navigation of SAP application’s screens.

    Should I understand this as the NW Portal being replaced by Project Muse in the time to come or?


  • For me one thing remains very unclear in this keynote: ERP 2005 remains stable until 2010, but what happens to Netweaver? Will it be possible to keep the core of ERP 2005 stable but upgrade Netweaver(for example WAS)? Is there a new Netweaver roadmap as well?