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This year was the most lightly attended SAPPHIRE in years, and I don’t believe the H1N1 virus had much to do with it. But the attendees were a very serious bunch. They were focused on solutions and had specific questions and needs. The SAP ecosystem made a strong showing, and hopefully many attendees came away satisfied

 

The one thing that should have struck them is the discussion of the Clear Enterprise. I have had interesting conversations with several people who dismiss this as a “marketing thing.” Others, are not sure what to make of it. While the words may have the ring of smart marketing there is a very solid truth behind the message.

 

SAP’s message on this is that in order to thrive in the current global economic crisis and to emerge successful, enterprises should focus on opening up their silos of information and processes and recognize that emerging technologies will facilitate this process, radically changing the way they will operate in the future. On the surface of it this is not a dramatically new statement. What is important to note are the points being made about emerging technologies and imminent radical changes in the way businesses will operate. These points are indicators of innovation; in other words, innovation is bound to happen to ensure enterprises survive and ultimately succeed, and this innovation is bound to happen in the arena of processes (that is what the silo-busting talk is all about). It is up to an enterprise to proactively move in that direction or to be forced to change its approach by the demands of the marketplace and its own internal constituencies.

 

In an economic downturn, I have found people often balk at the mention of “innovation” thinking that this might imply a major risky venture. What I have frequently said is that often innovation is about the little things we can do to improve, or enrich, seemingly routine processes. That is what SAP is pointing to. By re-crafting processes we indeed open up the possibility of getting away from the silo effect in process and information. As an example, SAPPHIRE also had quite a bit of focus on the SAP Business Objects Portfolio. The Business Objects Explorer (Polestar) is an example of how quickly information can be molded into satisfying user need. This is an instrument, therefore, of realizing the vision of the Clear Enterprise.

 

In order to realize the Clear Enterprise vision, an organization needs to have the ability to implement solutions that are, in my words, of a “click-to-fit” nature, based on reliable and robust but rapid techniques. These will necessarily require strong business process skills and hence business process experts. I suggest checking out the presentation, “Using New SAP Capabilities for New Business Requirements,” given during SAPPHIRE (http://www.sap.com/community/showdetail.epx?itemID=17743).

 

For SAP customers the choice is clear – continue to move ahead with the spirit of innovation and inculcate a culture of process. This will enable you to derive greater advantage from your SAP investment. The alternative is characterized by a poorer return on investment.

 

* NOTE: I apologize for the delay in coming out with this post.

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