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TechEd Impressions

An ERP implementation is just the start for customers
The focus of many (if not most) new SAP customers is almost exclusively on implementing SAP ERP.  This is a necessary first step but just that, a first step.  SAP has invested heavily over the last decade in non-ERP products.

User Interface strategy – Portal and NWBC – SAPGUI is dead
It has become rather obvious over the last few years that SAPGUI is dead.  SAP has ceased investing in this technology a while back.  ALL new frontends developed by SAP are based on WebDynpro technology (ABAP in the Business Suite world, Java for the rest).  NWBC and a browser are the two strategic frontends.  In SME Portal will be optional but in large enterprise it is quickly becoming a mandatory component of the landscape.

Focus on Business Process Modeling
SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) contains new tools for Visio-like business process modeling (BPM) and business rules management (BRM).  With SAP ERP being a necessary first step these tools allow for the simple design and adoption of business processes and frontend applications for these processes.  While an ERP implementation requires (at least some) development these tools are model-based with very little (if any) actual programming required.  BPM is a very strong growth focus at SAP.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies…
…(such as AJAX as a framework technology, blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, mash-ups etc. as supporting tools) are being embraced heavily by SAP.  The goal is to make users become more involved vs. being ‘just users’ today.  A good analogy is the Internet:  in the ‘old days’ most users just consumed web pages.  Today (‘Web 2.0’) personalized and community-based sites like My Yahoo! (mash-ups), tools like Blogger, Twitter, Facebook etc. are mainstream.  All of them are characterized by users being content producers as well as consumers.  Much of the content is community-driven vs. centrally developed.  In the enterprise world this evolution is slowly happening as well (thus ‘Enterprise 2.0’).  SAP is actively involved in making the necessary tools and technologies for this to happen available.  The SAP Community Network (SDN, BPX etc.) are a good indication where the tools are as they all use SAP’s technology.

SOA is the overarching technology that makes all of this possible
Implementing ERP is the first step for customers.  With the current version that makes the implemented functionality available as web services (‘Enterprise Services’ in SAP vernacular).  All of the next steps for customers are enabled by this technology.

SAP stresses lower TCO
One of the surprising (for me at least) threads was that in almost every presentation lowering TCO was mentioned as a goal of the initiative being discussed.  Leaner times are ahead…

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