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EcoHub was the big story in the SAP world when I was at Tech Ed ’08 in Berlin. Coming on the heels of the launch of SAP’s Innocentive program, SAP made it clear that innovation was high on the list of things needed for future success. I will return to EcoHub in a subsequent post. Let us explore what leveraging the SAP platform for innovation could mean.

Are you struggling with the ability to connect a mobile work force with a monolithic application base? Are you looking to make your workforce more agile? Are you seeking to plug a gap in your process because out-of-the-box SAP does not fulfill all your requirements? These are not unusual questions nor are they novel. What is interesting is that now we can look beyond the limitations of the delivered business application and the known abilities of your programmers to find ways within the platform to address the apparent functionality gap. For example, one might have a situation where the mobile work force needs to synchronize with, and leverage,  backend capabilities. If this is not something that can be easily accomplished by out-of-the-box functionality, perhaps the use of Adobe Interactive Forms and NetWeaver Mobile can solve the dilemma without the need for seeking additional external solutions or writing copious quantities of code! If this were done, it could well illustrate business process innovation enabled by the SAP platform!

When you do something like this you have shown additional return / benefit from the platform – perhaps something you had not accounted for earlier. Proper exploitation of the SAP platform going into the future is all about addressing business pain points with novel use of the platform. As many SAP customers engage in the upgrade process,  they need to consider a comprehensive return on their upgrade investment – one that includes benefits from process innovation leveraging the power of the platform – and not just a mechanical ROI that is limited to a technical upgrade. I will concede that this comprehensive ROI will be difficult to estimate, but that cannot be a valid reason for not doing the right thing. When my colleagues and I evaluate upgrades for our clients we challenge them and our own folks to identify and deliver value beyond what is possible with a mere technical upgrade. This helps these SAP customers derive better value from the platform. This sets them on the path of innovation with the platform.

According to Usman Sheikh, Vice President, Global Ecosystem & Partner Group, (…and, I paraphrase) using the platform to create that differentiated value is what leveraging the platform is all about. It is my personal opinion that SAP customers who are ready to take a close look at the platform to leverage it more effectively will find a lot of support from SAP and from systems integrators. So they should not in any way hesitate to seek assistance in this matter.

Does your organization have a point of view on innovation that is achieved by leveraging the platform? Do you have thoughts on how a comprehensive return on upgrade investment might be estimated?

P.S. My next post is likely to be somewhat delayed. I will be back some time after Tech Ed ’08 in Bangalore.

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