Those of you that have been around for a while may remember the green screens of early ERP systems such as BPCS. These systems once implemented tended to change rarely and they were considered to be user un-friendly, at least until you knew the key short cuts.
They contained critical business data and information such as Material BOMs, Recipes, Costing Data, Inventory Balances, Sales Orders, Invoices and the like. Reporting was very standard and if you wanted custom reports then the IS team would have to write code. All this meant that it was difficult to adapt and change business models to cope with new requirements.
Fast forward 10-20 years and consider that by some accounts SAP runs over half of the daily business transactions generated in the whole world. You may have completed your SAP deployment only 2-3 years ago or possibly even as long as 5-10 years ago. But I would hazard a guess that your SAP landscape now looks something like this, core ERP system ECC6.0 on NW7.0 (or ECC 5.0 on NW2004). You may have also even tipped your toes into the Portal area and started to develop Web Dynpro for ABAP applications.
But, (and it’s a big but) it’s still predominantly an ABAP stack running a traditional client server architecture. In today’s web orientated world it’s difficult to adapt and innovate in the core ERP space. It’s not only due to the underlying technology architecture of traditional ERP deployments, it’s also partly due to the risk control and management frameworks that must be followed (SOX, ITIL etc).
SAP has tried to mitigate this by delivering a Java stack, Solution Manager, service enabling the core ERP system and starting to deliver BPM & BRM capability that sits on top of the core ERP stack. I believe that we as a customer base have been very slow to take full advantage of this.
We are faced with not only increasing velocity of change in the external environment, but people’s expectations of what a normal ERP experience should consist of (think web & cloud) make it that much more difficult to stay on top of the game.
So how do we innovate on top of a traditional (blue) ABAP ERP system? The next blog will take an iPhone scenario and ask this very question.