16 September 2002 Applications software giant SAP has become more conservative and is focusing its efforts on the near term needs of its biggest customers, according to leading analyst group AMR Research.
AMR Research senior vice president of research Bruce Richardson, SAP “has turned as conservative as the economy”, preferring to use the conference to focus on “near-term services and products that it will make available or ship before the end of ”, rather than making long-range predictions and announcements.
In particular, said Richardson, SAP used the Sapphire SAP user event in Lisbon, Portugal to familiarise its installed base of customers with a new product family, SAP xApps – composite, cross-functional applications built on top of SAP modules and/or third-party software and accessible via a unified portal interface.
The purpose of these applications, according to SAP, is to “provide a technology solution for people-driven processes that help enterprises executive corporate-wide strategies with greater ease and efficiency.”
Announced in June 2002, the first product in the xApps portfolio, Resource and Program Management (xRPM) is scheduled to ship in December 2002, executives at Sapphire said. A second product, the SAP Employee Productivity Suite, is to be rolled into the suite and renamed xEP. The SAP xApps family is the descendent of the former SAP Marketplace and SAP Portals business units.
“Given the likelihood of another slow year [in 2003], my bet is that SAP intends to put its attention on its largest customers. My immediate guess is that [its] 500 or 1,000 largest accounts could each be worth several million in incremental spend over the next 12 to 18 months in services and applications revenue,” said Richardson.
Other announcements included a live demonstration of the latest version of the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) suite, mySAP CRM 3.1, due for release in late October 2002.
“Sporting a new graphical user interface, mySAP CRM 3.1 at last achieves standardisation across the entire suite, although the contact centre forms are designed differently to handle the large information volumes use there. It looks to be a big improvement, but the real test will be early implementations that show whether standardisation produces an awkward visual straightjacket or an intuitive interface,” said AMR analyst Kevin Lucas.
The company’s supplier relationship management suite (mySAP SRM) was assigned a relatively low profile at this year’s Sapphire according to AMR’s Beth Barling. “The controlled rollout of mySAP SRM is a factor of two issues. First, the product set is still very much in the developmental stage. Second, the integration of the product with other applications is made possible by SAP’s new technology framework, based on SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) and mySAP Enterprise Portal.”
Adoption of applications that rely on this infrastructure will “take some time as customers evaluate and then implement the framework,” said Barling.