What's Next And What's Missing From SAP - InformationWeek
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12/8/2010
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Doug Henschen
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What's Next And What's Missing From SAP

Influencer Summit offers window on what's coming in mobility, analytics and in-memory functionality. But is the social networking strategy missing in action?

Enhancements to on-premise, on-demand, mobile and analytic capabilities: That's the short-list of what to expect from SAP in the coming year.

What some thought was missing -- but is mainly just suffering a lack of high-level attention -- is the company's social networking strategy. That's my take on day one of SAP's annual Influencer Summit, which got underway Tuesday in Santa Clara, California.

In-memory computing and mobile computing are getting all the attention here while up the road in San Francisco, at Salesforce.com Dreamforce event, social collaboration is getting lots of love from CEO Marc Benioff on down.

SAP's co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe kicked off the Influencer Summit with a 30-minute presentation delivered from Germany via satellite. After reviewing at length the company's recent accomplishments -- the Sybase acquisition, the launch of Business ByDesign and the release of the SAP HANA appliance and so on -- Hagemann Snabe finally turned to what's ahead.

In on-premise applications, Hagemann Snabe said SAP will accelerate its delivery of modularized enhancement packs that can be quickly installed. Business ByDesign, SAP's primary on-demand offering, will see enhancements in in-memory, real-time analytics.

The first quarter of 2011 will see a new on-demand sales force automation application featuring in-memory analysis and mobile delivery capabilities. Line-of-business extension applications will also show up next year, following in the targeted mold of SAP's on-demand Carbon Impact tracking and reporting application.

Mobile support and in-memory analysis are linchpins of SAP's long-term strategy, so Hagemann Snabe told attendees to expect added functionality throughout the portfolio in 2011 and beyond.

Vishal Sikka, SAP's CTO, who was here in the flesh, detailed how the Sybase Unwired mobility platform will soon support SAP's entire Business Suite by way of the "Project Gateway" back-end integration, due in the first half of 2011. The first half will also see and software development kit that will enable partners and customers to build mobile apps on the platform.

"In-memory" is synonymous with real-time analytic insight, and Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager, summed up the analytics-and-mobility-everywhere push as follows: "Any time you have an application you're going to generate data; of course that will drive analytics and of course you would want to mobilize that."

Social networking and collaboration did come up (here and there, briefly) in the top-executive presentations. But it's telling that a stand-out question during a closing Q&A session was, "What is SAP going to do to participate in social networking?"

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