11 May 2004 SAP, the world’s largest supplier of enterprise application software, is hosting its huge annual Sapphire conference in New Orleans this week, but customers and money, rather than new products or industry politics, are likely to dominate a thin news agenda.
Last year’s Sapphire event, attended by IT directors from many of the world’s largest organisations, was dominated by the discussions about Oracle’s planned takeover of Peoplesoft, SAP’s two biggest rivals. That hasn’t been resolved but SAP has little more to add on the issue.
SAP’s three best known executives – CEO Henning Kagermann, head of integration and Netweaver Shai Agasssi, and chairman Hasso Plattner – will all give keynotes describing how using SAP’s solutions, and especially the latest versions based around its Netweaver integration hub, can save money and thereby release it for more innovative work.
Traditionally, Sapphire, both in the US and Europe, has been the platform for major product announcements and, not infrequently, some boisterous banter between some SAP executives and the press. But this year, SAP is only likely to announce a few specialist vertical industry products.
SAP’s innovation message, however, has a financial underpinning. The company, like rivals Oracle and PeopleSoft, is trying to persuade customers of the benefits of moving over to the latest version of its software, in this case the mySAP Business Suite. SAP has offered huge discounts to customers to encourage them to move over, but many are unconvinced or not ready.
On the eve of the conference, SAP announced three major customer wins, at Tyson Foods, the US Department of the Interior and Avanex, all of which have been reportedly persuaded by the promise of more effectiveness using the latest version of mySAP.
SAP will later announce a major customer win in the UK. The British Council will roll out mySAP for use by employees and students across the world.