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SAP Event Management (SAP EM) is a powerful solution that I believe will be increasingly popular as companies continue the trend of globalization and employing extended multi-enterprise supply chains and contract manufacturers. Here is a brief description of SAP EM that comes from SAP’s wiki:

With the SAP® Event Management application your company can monitor and manage events across your distributed processes involving partners, inventories and assets. It captures events from your system and your partners’ systems, analyzes them against it’s predefined plan and alerts or workflows a response to the required people to react when deviations are found. It comes integrated with SAP® NetWeaver BI and SAP® Auto-Id Infrastructure (RFID enabled scenarios).

RFID and auto-id solutions using both static systems and mobile handheld computers collect data that are used to report on the shipping status and assembly line progress of various components. This data is fed into SAP EM via EDI or B2B data exchanges.

Multi-enterprise supply chains are inherently risky as you add more variables that can go wrong. Each participant in a multi-enterprise supply chain has its own supply chain and priorities that can become a dependency to your project’s success. Include cultural issues, different languages, geo-political uncertainties, taxes, currency exchange rates, laws and regulations to the mix and you have a recipe for excitement and drama.

The management of an extended and multi-enterprise supply chain requires a much higher and advanced level of automation, visibility and management than ever before. SAP EM is a solution well positioned for this role.

I see extended multi-enterprise supply chains as nearly an entity in itself. It is a shared community effort, an organism with many different living parts, a process that requires cooperation from all parties to be successful. In many cases, I think it would be better if SAP EM were a hosted solution in a cloud computing environment that supported the extended multi-enterprise supply chain community, rather than being owned by one particular participant in the process.

Let’s now discuss for a moment the role EDI and B2B messages plays in the SAP EM environment. All participants in this extended multi-enterprise supply chain need to be sharing data that informs the other participants as to the progress, schedules and status of their segment of the supply chain process. They need to receive orders, acknowledge the order, order parts, receive parts, manufacture products, ship products, provide advanced shipping notices, invoice etc. This is where EDI and B2B messages come in.

EDI is structured data that is documented in a standardized manner and shared between trading partners. This structured data can be called EDI or B2B (business-to-business) data exchanges. I will use the term EDI to cover both areas. This EDI data is what the participants of the extended multi-enterprise supply chain (I will make up an acronym – EMESC) send to the SAP EM to communicate status and other business data necessary for the supply chain’s success.

In the same manner as SAP EM seems to be best suited for a SaaS model in a cloud computing environment because it is a shared process by a community of members, I think the EDI/B2B data exchanges should also be an extension of the EMESC. It does not seem to make sense to have one of the many participants be responsible for the integration, development, operations and support of all participant’s EDI exchanges. This responsibility should be owned by the same SaaS provider that supports the hosted SAP EM in a cloud computing environment.

I find the entire concept of SAP Event Management as a solution for tracking the entire supply chain fascinating. It has the same capability to alter the landscape of traditional supply chain management as does Business Network Transformation or SAP EDI in a cloud.

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  1. Eric Vanrude
    I feel it would be great if SAP delved deeper into cloud and EDI than the current IDOC interfaces.  However, it seems to there is a lot of unplowed field between where we are now and vendors using cloud based SAP EM to monitor supply chains across companies.  Is an open framework for supply chain monitoring, focused on clouds,  a good first step and more in line with current SAP philosophy? 
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